August 23, 2009

Wife of a Combat Veteran Seeks Guidance

I received this email from a reader which touches on a common situation facing spouses of combat veterans. I have an understanding between myself and my Higher Power that he will send people my way and my part is to point out that they have been chosen to advance the cause of their personal experiences with respect to the dilemmas they face.

We as humans will be surprised at the depths of suffering we can survive and the heights in which we can prevail. I am always telling people, "You will be surprised at what you can do when faced with hardship and how much you can handle when given the right tools to succeed."

Her email,
I have spent hours reading your blog and trying to understand. I am proud of my husband…for what he did for our country. I am not proud of the hateful man he is now. I love him and will forever stand beside him, but can you give me any idea of where I, as the wife, can go to gain assistance with dealing with the insanity that comes with being married to a man with PTSD. I am at my wits end and tired of crying and trying to be strong and support him.
My response,
I would suggest that you get involved with some organizations that advocate for the family of combat veterans with PTSD. I am certain that women in your area have similar situations to find the support that you need. You cannot go through this alone, it will destroy you and your relationship with your husband. Does he want to seek help, or has he been receiving help? Either way if you want to remain sane throughout the process then get active in your life, find support, advocate for better care for our veterans and support for families. If you have a lack of organizations or support groups in your area then start one.

Think of this as an opportunity to advance the standard of care for our veterans and the support of the families. Keep researching to better understand your husband and to better understand your self in this situation and reactions to his behavior.

I believe that my experiences in life will serve a higher purpose and that I have been chosen by God to prepare myself to become a combat trauma therapist. With my unique insights from both sides of the prism of PTSD, I will be able to empathize and help my clients in such a way as to guide them out of the fog of war and into productive lives. Maybe, you have been chosen to do similar work to advance the cause of increasing awareness and support for spouses and families of combat veterans.

Do not forget that this has completely changed your life, now it is up to you to turn your experiences into a force for change.
  • Educate yourself to better understand your internal processes
  • Review your internal values and belief systems
  • Reevaluate your life's direction outside of work
  • Get involved with women of combat veterans
  • Find the inner warrior to combat the stigma, lack of care and understanding
  • Evaluate skills you possess and translate them to your life outside work
  • Begin to seek out your new path in life
If I left something out or you have more suggestions for our newfound friend, please post a comment.


  1. I have found The Combat Trauma Healing Manual By Chris Adsit and When War Comes Home: Christ-centered Healing for Wives of Combat Veterans By Chris and Rahnella Adsit have been helpful resources. They were recommended to me by a chaplain serving in the Army. Much of the work being done with families in the military is done by chaplains, so it stands to reason that those who are creating self-help resources are the military ministries. The website is

  2. Melkie's right, those books are great if you are a Christian looking for answers. I know Chris, Rahnella, and Marshele (the other author of When War Comes Home) and can vouch that they practice what they preach.

    On another note, have you looked at It's a place where Warriors and their loved ones can share their strengths and burdens, and learn from each other's experiences.

    On Monday and Wednesday nights, we hold free online spouse support groups. Email me at if you are interested or visit

  3. I have a friend that runs a blog at Healing Combat Trauma that covers many topics related to the combat veteran's wifes concerns. I have included a link to one of her articles The Other Purple Heart: For Wives, Husbands and Partners of Those with PTSD.

  4. Thank you, I am the wife that the sent email. I was shocked to see it here. It only mattered to me, or so I thought. I am following this blog and checking into things here in my area. Closest VA is Cleveland, OH. I am finding more help online and truly appreciate everyones assistance. The links posted are heading me in the right direction. Please know..I am here with my husband, and will stay at his side to help him through. I just need a little help for myself too. Thanks to all.

  5. I am the wife of a veteran as well. Our marriage is on the verge of being another casualty of war. I am fighting with my life for my husband, for our marriage, for my sanity.

    I have found some help with You may find some help there too. It was founded by Ed Tick and his wife. He is the author of "War and The Soul." The book may be good for the veteran but seriously lacks for the veteran's wife.

    Your suggestions are good but make it sound easy. It is not.

  6. Both wives, your situation has universal appeal in others seeking the same answers and guidance.

    Second, I understand that the words themselves seem to say the path we have been set upon is easy. But, as a combat veteran with two divorces I know there has been collateral damage with past significant others and my two children.

    No, it will not be easy. This will in all probability be the hardest thing you will ever do. By finding others who share in your pain and a new found vision, you could be surprised at what can be accomplished.

    While the internet is a strong tool to find communion, I would still strongly suggest that you find a group in your area or start one. The physical presence felt through others cannot be matched as this fulfills a basic human need.

  7. With all the help centers in the world , if your husband is selfish, stingy, unromantic and listens to his sisters advice who hate you, what good will it do?
    I live a lonely married life with an uncaring man that sees marriage as a game of secrecy with his 3 sisters, trying to keep me from getting even a dime from him.

  8. “PTSD develops when traumatic events are unresolved and the person is unable to integrate the reality of the particular event and resulting repetitive replaying of the traumatic images, behaviors, feelings, physiological states, and interpersonal relationships” (Caldwell et al, p. 722).

    Hi vets wife,
    the internet and ptsd books are full of psycho babble like the quote above. It's amazing how many opinions are out there that are not based on fact. the fact is, even if a survivor resolves the trauma, ptsd has no cure. It's a fact that ptsd is not a psycho- logical injury to begin with. PTSD is a very real physical imjury to the sympathetic nervous systems fight or flight response.It's a fact that the autonomic nervous system reacts without consious thought. If human beings could think away the reaction to stress, who would have any?
    Vet wife, it's a fact that ptsd is contagious. That's because it's stressful when the physical integrity of a loved one is threatened by chronic dis-ease. I am a vet wife with ptsd too. Our two adult children have a broken response to stress too. Sadly, ptsd is the most mis- understood, mis- diagnosed, mis- treated injury I know of, and that's a fact. God gives us ptsd too so we learn to understand what our combat veterans are experiencing. In time, I trust you too will find the purpose and meaning to your suffering. If you'd like, you can e mail me at Thank you for your service and sacrifices, thank you for surviving, and welcome home brave soldiers wife.
    ps, our VA/vet center didn't offer any assistance for vet wifes/ children. isn't that sad?
    Thank you Soldier

    Have you stopped to thank a veteran today?
    For the price of freedom they had to pay?
    Did you gaze into those distant eyes?
    Did you see the ghosts he can't deny?
    Did you think a soldier's heart was made of steel?
    Because he was trained to kill, he couldn't feel?
    Did you see the guilt written on his face,
    For the loss of life he can't replace?
    Did you know he mourns the lives he couldn't save,
    And walks with comrades in their grave?
    Did you remember the boy with innocence lost?
    Do you really know war's ultimate cost?
    Have you felt the blast of artillery fire?
    Do you have the courage it would require?
    Have you stood in trenches consumed with fear?
    Felt the enemies breath so very near?
    Have you walked with God on a battleground?
    Seen your brothers dead or dying all around?
    Have you stopped to thank a vet today,
    Or did you just turn and walk away?
    From the pain he'll carry for the rest of his life,
    Did you consider his family, his children, his wife?
    That watch him suffer in silence each and every day,
    As he's haunted by memories that don't go away?
    Did you care that the soldier is still pulling guard?
    That his heart, mind, and soul will forever be scarred?
    Do you know how he suffers from ptsd?
    Or that our precious freedom is never free?
    Do you care that he still hears the blood curdling screams?
    Or that he returns to the war each night in his dreams?
    Have you felt the sorrow of a combat vet?
    Or would you rather just forget?
    That war has pierced his couragous heart,
    And torn this soldier all apart?
    Would you rather our heroes just fade away?
    Or will you stop to thank a vet today?

    By Chris Woolnough
    please come and join us in the aftermath of war coping with ptsd too:

  9. I am in need of wives to talk to too, but everyone is so afraid their husbands will get into trouble with the military here. You know how it is, one talks...then the other says something to the spouse, and before you know it CO knows about it. Boom..end of military career. I hear this a lot so its even harder to get help among spouses. VA isn't any help at all here with my husband let alone spouses. Only offer a spousal support which was a complete joke and its once a month. Hell, that's not even enough time to tell someone your problems in your marriage or your husband. Military One Source who is supposed to be the "mother" of all resources turned us away. It's a shame that some of us have to resort to talking to people on line rather than in person. Not that online help is bad, just would be nice to talk to people in person. Wish the VA would recognize the need for help in families and children. I hate that as a Family Readiness Group leader of my unit, I must tell my families to seek out help online rather than direct them to a in person resource. The stigma of having PTSD prevents many spouses from speaking out and joining any type of help. It's sad, because it sure isn't something to be ashamed of.

  10. Try here at Family of a Vet. You are going to have to go outside your boundaries for resources. You probably do not have the resources in your area.

    This is what you do, check out the links below, they go as far as one can go in your position and you would be well to heed to learn the rest. You have been given a purpose in life.

    It may not be the exact one you were promised but its the one your God has given you. You are now to learn and become fluent in the language of Combat PTSD and become the advocate that you wish you had right now.

    Self Care

    Preparing for Combat PTSD Triage at Home

  11. I am not a wife of a veteran but I have been with my soldie for a year and a half. He just got back from his third tour. He already went to Afghanistan twice and this time it was afghanistan. He came home a different man. We were picking out rings and talking about having a baby together (we both have 2 children from previous marriages)while he was deployed but now that he's back he doesn't even want to live together. We have been through so much in the last year together and I've waited patiently for him and tried to cater to his every need. I truly love this man and I know he loves me but his ptsd is tearing us apart. He has asked for help an is going to start getting it soon. I have begun giving him the space he says he needs but I'm dying inside wondering if my love will come back to me. I can't lose him like this. Can somebody please help me to understand how I should be treating him and if I can even expect him to come around? He is on this independence kick and I give it to him. He says he wants to be just friends and hasn't completely subtracted me from his life but should I expect that soon? I can't stop crying. I can't eat or sleep becauseI'm in knots thinking about him and worrying about him and about us. HELP!! My email is

  12. I too am the wife of a Veteran who has PTSD as well as TBI. My husband returned from Iraq in Jan 2008 and it is has been a struggle ever since. While he was still active duty there was help available to us spouses. But now that he is medically retired, there doesn't seem to be any support group or help from anywhere. Our soldiers live everyday with their injuries, but we too live everyday with their injuries and wish there was some help for us out there. Family and friends offer love and support, but unfortunately they do not understand what we go through every day. I know there are very few of us that have stood by our husbands since many "can't take it anymore" and divorce.

    Just today I went ahead and took it upon myself to start a support group. So far there has been no response but I am hoping there will be soon. I mean, I know I'm not the only one who is living with a Veteran with PTSD.

    Much love to all and stay strong!


  13. Thats it Julie! Take it upon yourself, thats the only way we are going to meet the demand for Combat PTSD.

  14. Julie, I am also the wife of a Veteran who has PTSD as well as TBI. MY husband served in Afghanistan and was injured in 2006. He has since been retired medically, and your right, it seems like there are not a lot of options...I have been a very strong person my whole life, have been through a lot at an early age, and after the 4 1/2 years we have been together, I feel like I'm "broken"...I love my husband with every ounce of my heart, but I don't know how much more of this insanity I can take....

    1. Family of a Vet can and will help, they have the resources. Recently, their Founder met with President Obama on veteran issues. At Family of a Vet you will find wives going through the exact same think you are, tell them I sent you.

      Keep reading here you will find more of why and how we do what we do; understanding of how we think. I give voice to the inner voices and visions that swim in and out of our reality.

  15. I fell in love with a combat vet 3/2013. He has maintained his civilian position as a police officer once he returned in 2012. I want to do everything to support him. At first he used to open up and talk to me. Then, he rapidly drifted away. He only allows me to communicate with him via text message. In the past, this has made me upset and frustrated. Now, if I don't text him, he won't text at all. I feel as though I am losing him and I have expressed this to him. Of course, I received no response. I want to take care of him and be supportive. Please help me to communicate better or help me to get him to open up?


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