“I found my voice,” is the statement that I have heard most often from the caregivers of our wounded warriors. I have even said it myself. My son stayed up all night when he read the manuscript for my book. He did not remember everything in those early weeks of his recovery. When he came to the chapter where I fired his army doctor, in an army hospital, on an army base, because I had “found my voice,” he asked if I REALLY did??? Yes, I did. It did not matter that I didn’t have the authority, my son’s welfare was all the authority I needed.
The majority of caregivers are wives, spouses, significant others, who have found themselves thrust into an unexpected role that is impossible to imagine. Some caregivers that I have come into contact with are angry, and others are just plain scared. So many of them have sent their loved ones off to war just to have them returned back in a state that they have trouble defining. Some have physical injuries, others have post traumatic stress issues, and many are plagued with both.
There are times when all the medical needs and the psychological issues are so overwhelming that the families are at risk of not surviving, and many do not. The “leaders” of their homes have difficulty in just dealing with their own lives let alone thinking about the running of their households. That’s when the wives are put in the position of having to take care of their children, their financial dealings, and their husbands needs, all while working outside the home, which can be devastating.
Think for a moment, about marrying your high school sweetheart, having a child or two, and learning to live the military life. Moving frequently isn’t conducive to forming close friendships. As they watch their husband, their best friend, leave for war, never do they consider that the person who would return home might not be the same person who left months before. War changes all…
The preparations have been made in case the war fighter does not survive. The paperwork, the wills, the last wishes have all been recorded. Somehow, it never enters our minds that severe injury could be the outcome. That they may need to redefine their future, the future of their family, the future of their children. The needs of their wounded are now their first consideration. For many this is more than they can bear, and the marriages fail.
It is our responsibility to lift up the staggering number of families that are in jeopardy. With each warrior who becomes isolated, suicide becomes an option they consider. Can you live with this outcome? I can not. Operation Mend is one organization that is taking on the task of helping these “at risk” warriors. The Bob Woodruff Foundation and Operation Homefront are others that reach out to warrior families. Other organizations like IAVA have hot lines set up, staffed 24/7, to talk with the warrior or their family members when life spirals out of control. If you can gift to any crises organization, then you must. For their sake and yours.
When you give of yourself to any wounded warrior and their family, you will find that your own heart will begin to heal in a place that you didn’t even know was in need.