- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 12, 2008

My husband has been on three long deployments and recently returned from a 15-month stint. Each one has gotten harder for us.

To be honest, I´m doing OK, but my husband isn´t. Ms. Vicki, something is missing from my husband. He is not the same man I married 10 years ago. We used to have so much fun together. He was always the life of the party. Everyone loved being around my husband. We went to parks, had picnics and always had company over almost every weekend. My husband had such energy and would play all sorts of games with our children. Ms. Vicki, with each deployment, it´s like my husband leaves a piece of his soul behind. So much so that there is nothing left. It´s like he is an empty shell. He doesn´t sleep at night. Many times, I have awakened to find him walking the floors or watching television with a blank stare on his face. When he gets home from work, he stays in the bedroom. I´m not sure what he does at work all day. He barely eats and doesn´t even like his favorite food that I use to cook for him.

I am worried about my husband. My children don´t understand what has happened to him. His family keeps worrying me instead of trying to get answers from him. Why is this problem for me to fix? I´ve been a good supportive wife. What happens when our men get home from war changed forever? I feel like I have lost my husband. He is still in Iraq. What can I do?

-A War Spouse

Thank you so much for writing and for sharing your story. I won´t try to diagnose your husband’s problem via e-mail because I don´t want to cause you any more stress than you are currently experiencing. There are many things that clinicians and families should consider when facing such an issue, i.e. the number and lengths of deployments, and how long the service member has been redeployed.

We even look at characteristics and behavior you describe regarding your husband pre- and post-deployment.

I think he is definitely experiencing combat stress. It also sounds as if he is suffering from depression, which is a symptom of combat stress. He really needs to see a doctor immediately for an evaluation. You can start by making a same-day appointment to see his primary care physician.

In the meantime, contact your social work services or behavioral health department. They should provide services or direct you to off-post services. If you have an emergency, please take your husband to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

Keep in touch and let me know how things are going. You are not alone with this experience. Don´t blame yourself, OK?

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