Saturday, May 11, 2013

PTSD is a real problem... and we're moving because of it

On January 19th, 2008, while countering enemy fire on a rooftop in Mosul, Iraq, my husband was shot in the head by a sniper. Luckily, God was on his side, and after a surgery, he was fine. Well, that's what people assume, anyways. Let me tell you, though, living with someone who has chronic/severe PTSD, knee problems, sudden and unpredictable anger, anxiety, insomnia, migraines and memory loss (due to his brain injury) is not easy. So I can't even imagine what it must be like to be in his shoes. He can't focus, has trouble remembering things, gets nervous and anxious in large crowds, can't run or (some days) even walk without being in pain... and the medications that are supposed to help, have side effects just as bad! Even the littlest things, like going grocery shopping or out to eat for dinner, have to be carefully planned. In a restaurant, he has to sit somewhere where he can see the entrance to feel comfortable. The grocery stores are always packed around here, so I usually opt to go with a friend to save him the anxiety of trying to shop while surrounded by strangers. These are just a few of his daily challenges. Somehow, most days, he still manages to smile, to love, to be happy.

The helmet that he was wearing when he got shot. You can see the exit hole.

After three years as an Infantryman, two years as a UAV pilot, and a year in his current Restoration & Upkeep unit (where they send all the broken guys when they can no longer do their jobs), Aaron is now in the process of medically retiring from the Army. Yes, that means he will be retired at only 25 years old, and he will be receiving a pension. Do I feel guilty? Nope! He has given more of himself to this country in the last five years than most American citizens will in an entire lifetime. He (literally) isn't able to work anymore- he can't sit or focus long enough for a desk or office job, he doesn't have the patience or self-restraint to work in customer service, he can't be in large crowds for very long, and has too many physical problems to work in manual labor.

At only 24 years old, my husband is disabled both physically and mentally. Wow, as I typed that word, disabled, and read it now... I'm filled with sadness. He is a great man, filled with compassion and ambition, but most of his dreams aren't going to turn out how he'd hoped. There is one dream, however, that he has always had, that is still a possibility. It is something he has wanted to do for a long time, one of the things we talked about when we were younger.

  "I want to move out of the US," he said, "I want to raise my family somewhere else. I want my kids to experience and explore the real world." 

So we're planning to do just that- we're moving out of the country. For once, not because the Army ordered us to, but because we want to. We've been discussing and researching this for awhile now. We narrowed down our choices to five countries: Panama, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Slowly, I crossed each country off the list, until only one remained. It was hard to find one place that met all of our criteria.... but we have decided.

This fall, after one more summer in Texas, we are moving to Costa Rica ♥

Since this is already a long post... I will be talking more about this on a series of posts that will probably be entitled something like, "why we want to move to Costa Rica" ...except hopefully I will come up with a more creative title.


  1. All the best to you and your family. I hope this move brings he and your family peace and healing.

  2. I could have written this myself. In 2006 my husband was in Iraq and injured. He was left with brain injuries that have left him with epilepsy, cognitive brain damage and also memory loss. He can re call stories from his childhood like they happened yesterday but ask him what he had for breakfast yesterday and he couldn't tell you. He too gets anxious in large crowds and has to be near exits and his mood swings put mine to shame. He was medically discharged from the British Army in 2010 and since then has been on a pension. People look at him like he's mad when he tells them that he is 31 and retired.

    I am so sorry that you're family has had to go through this too. It is so unfair but both of our husbands have sacrificed their health for their country.

    I am so excited that you are starting a new chapter. We have talked of moving before to a new country but finances don't allow it at the moment.

    I'm looking forward to following this journey with you all!

    Liane xx

  3. My husband also suffers from PTSD, he was in a truck that was hit. He said it was a lot like the beginning scene in Iron Man.

    I have to say, I am excited to read about your adventures! and I have to admit, I am a bit jealous. This is so exciting for you though!

  4. Wow I can't imagine how hard this must be.
    I'm so thankful for people like your hubs who give so much if themselves to protect us.

    I thought for a moment you were going to be moving to Australia! Haha. Costa Rica sounds good too. Can't wait to read your reasons.

  5. WOW hun I'm crying reading this! I didnt realise Aaron had so many problems. My respect for you has grown even more. I respected you as an Army wife and a mother. I dont know how you have the strength. At least you will always have us to talk too xxxx

  6. I could never say "thank you" enough to your husband & your whole family for the sacrifices he made (and continues to make now) for us! Best wishes with your move! <3

  7. I want to say thank you for writing such a heart felt post. Many times people do not discuss it and so it gets swept under the rug. It's very real and many ((hugs)) to you and your family!!

    I'm very excited for you guys to be following your dream of moving out of the country. Can't wait to see the series and follow along!:)

  8. Holy crow! Oh my gosh - I had no idea! I am so sorry to hear everything that has gone on - I can't even imagine what you and your family and especially your husbnd are going through. I don't know anyone in the military - but I can't even imagine what you all are dealing with.
    I am happy to hear you guys will have a new beginning so to speak. Looking forward to hearing about it and seeing things change in your lives. I hate to use the cliche "You are still young", but I will LOL. You guys are so young and there is so much more out there- Enjoy it and I hope this path takes you down a better road! I am 42 and wish I could go back to 20's... with the cliche saying of "Wish I knew then what I know now!" ...
    Hugs! xoxo

  9. i will say that i am insanely jealous that you guys are moving to costa rica. i'm glad you're back to blogging! :)

  10. E &amp; A RosenfriedMay 21, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    sorry to hear all that has gone on with your family but i applaud you for taking the chance/risk and moving your family to enjoy life together. it will be memorable and fun! I look forward to reading about your adventures! Happy Birthday to Emmett as well!

  11. I don't know much about PTSD specifically but working on a geri-psych unit we get a LOT of vets with those same psych issues. I've seen how hard it is for all those men to live with what they have. You are such a good wife. It is just as hard for wives and families as it is for them.

    Wish I could have met him when we were going to school together. Good luck with everything!


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
-Dr. Seuss