In early 2003, my soldier was among the first to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was with the 4th infantry division in Tikrit. Saddam Hussein's hometown. A place where they still fervently followed their leader. 10 days before my soldier was set to come home, from this nearly yearlong deployment, his unit, along with another (around 600 people) captured Saddam Hussein.
That understandably made him feel like everything he'd been through had been worth it.
The day before my soldier deployed in 2003, his girlfriend at the time (another soldier in his unit) told him that she was pregnant. So he immediately took her to the courthouse and they got married. He says he was looking forward to coming home and being a husband, and a dad.
Fast forward 6 months, the baby is born. A baby girl who is a carbon copy of my soldier. K. Along with the pictures she sent him, of their newborn baby, she sent him an email (that I've read with my own eyes) that said (in a nutshell) "My baby will never know you. I hear on the news about all these guys dying, and I can't wait to hear that you died too. I'll get all that money" (death benefits, at the time about $400,000)
It turns out that when their reserve unit got called up to deploy, her and her mom freaked out (understandably) and devised a plan for her to get pregnant on purpose so that she wouldn't have to deploy. (Not so understandable) That way, they said, when he died, she'd be rich.
Another couple weeks went by, and at that point my soldier's number of confirmed kills hovered around 4 dozen. 4 dozen marks that my sweet, Christian solider feels will forever be on his soul. And he struggles with this, to this day, it still comes up. His wife exposed her truths, so he knew he had nothing to come home to. Fighting demons and fearing god, he drank a lot, over there.
One night when he was sleeping (in a tent, the barracks weren't even started there yet) a mortar round hit a tree about 15 feet from where he lay. It knocked him unconscious for a few minutes (he doesn't know how long) and even when he came to, he couldn't hear anything for hours. This is where he acquired his TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury, for those who don't know. It was described to me like a multiple concussion. It bruises your brain and changes things and effects everyone in different was. And of course there are different levels of severity.
My soldier has memory problems, anger issues, nightmares, headaches, tinnitus, he has this quirk where he'll tell anybody anything they want to hear (including me) and not mean a word. He wants to make people happy but he can't handle the follow through. He has trouble concentrating and common noises send him over the edge. He is distracted very easily, it takes time and sometimes repetition for him to process things people say or that he reads. He is impulsive to a dangerous point sometimes. there's so much more, but you get the picture.
Anyway, he never got help for any of this stuff, I knew nothing back then (18!!! I was a child)
about PTSD or TBI, or war, or getting help or LIFE. And I never knew how to get him the help he needed, he actually seemed to be improving. And to this day he tells me that I saved him. But that doesn't make me feel happy. It feels like a burden, because he wants me to keep saving him...
I cant write the rest now