Today’s guest blogger is Debbie Sprague, ( Wellness & Life Solutions Coach for Spouses of Veterans with PTSD, Grassroots Volunteer ~ Family of a Vet.  She is also the author of a new book that will be coming out soon, “A Stranger in My Bed: 8 Steps to Getting Your Life Back from the Contagious Effects of Your Veteran’s PTSD.”

Tina Atherall and Tricia Winklosky, two Hope For The Warriors® staff members, will be on Debbie’s podcast tonight.  The show will be on at 7:30 p.m. EST.  Listeners will also have the opportunity to call in and ask questions.  If you miss the show, you will also be able to download the podcast later.  Find the podcast here.

Author’s husband, 1969 in Danang,

Tears filled the eyes
of the Vietnam vets wife as she listened to the pregnant spouse of an Iraq vet.  This young woman was knowledgeable and
pro-active in dealing with her veterans PTSD. 
They were receiving counseling. 
She attended our spouses support group. 
She knew what had
happened to her husband.

When group ended, two
Vietnam Veterans wives remained.  The
teary one began sobbing, “If only I had of known when I was her age.  I could have helped him.  I would have stayed.  Why did no one help us to understand?  I loved him. 
PTSD destroyed my child’s life.”

The other spouses face was
red with anger.  “Why did we have to go
through this alone?  Why didn’t we get
the help that these kids are getting?  I
have spent 40 years caring for a man whose body and mind was destroyed in
Vietnam, and now I have PTSD as well! 
This group is the first place that I have been able to get support.  Why did it take so long when there are so
many other women living in the same world that I was? “

Later I asked Kim, the
widow of a Korean and Vietnam veteran about her many years of caring for her
husband throughout his battle with his PTSD and cancer.  She had always radiated love, joy and happiness
to all those around her.  She worked
tirelessly in our community on veteran’s issues, and projects.  Her advice was to have compassion, patience,
and understanding and just keep loving

What advice and wisdom
can the spouses of the previous generations of war pass on to today’s spouses
and families?  How can our experiences
help this generation be protected from the contagious effects of PTSD, and from
becoming a victim of caregiver overwhelm? 
And from the high divorce rate
suffered by our Vietnam veterans with
PTSD, who are three times more
likely than veterans without PTSD to divorce two or more times, according to
the Vietnam Veteran Readjustment Study.

In 2000, I became the
fourth wife of one of those Vietnam
Veterans.  I had no idea that Vietnam or PTSD
had anything to do with his failed marriages.  I knew nothing about PTSD, there was no need,
I had married the man of my dreams. He was wonderful and perfectly normal.  As far as I knew, the war had ended for him
the day he got on a plane in Vietnam after his second tour of duty.  He arrived at the bus station in his hometown
with no “welcome homes” for the young soldier, only his father there to greet
him.  Within days, it was time to look
for a job and get on with his life, and that’s what he did.

In 2004, our dreams
ended.  Vietnam returned with a vengeance
35 years later and threatened to ruin our lives.  He was no longer able to work; he had health
complications from exposure to Agent Orange, and was diagnosed with PTSD.  We struggled, our marriage was in
crisis.  I became angry, resentful, and
depressed… just like him.  I was
diagnosed with PTSD, and was advised to divorce him.

But I was determined to
stay.  I learned; I sought support. I
fought to get my mental, emotional, and physical health back.  I reached out to help other spouses.  We survived. 
PTSD will be a constant in our lives, and his health problems will only
get worse with time, but our love, marriage and commitment is stronger today
than it has ever been.

I would like to share with today’s spouses that there is hope for a
bright future with your wounded warrior. 
It’s not an easy journey; it takes hard work and commitment.  Understanding, compassion, and patience for
yourself and your veteran are essential. 
When you use the information and support available to you today, honor
your commitment to your veteran, and value your need to maintain your own
health and happiness you can create a life for works for you.   It may
not be a life that looks “normal” to the outside world but it can be a life
richer and better than you ever dreamed possible.