Living With a Soldier Suffering From PTSD ( part 3 )
PTSD Will Affect Him Forever
I had lived two long years before my divorce, with a soldier that didn't want to admit he had PTSD. No matter what I had done, no matter who I talked to in the Army chain of command and the Military Police...no one would listen to me.
They deployed him to Iraq for the third time after only holding him on rear detatchment for three months. He never contacted his children and only came by on leave for two days to pick up the money from our tax return and to get me out of the post housing.
No one from the courts mailed me divorce papers and neither did my spouse, so I didn't know we were legally divorced in early December of 2010. I wasn't given anything until he decided to email them to me late January. It was a blessing in a way we didn't hear from him because the few times I did in emails, all he did was threaten me.
When we moved out and into town, it was closing in on when he was due home from Iraq. I did try to contact him to see if he wanted his son at the homecoming and I would send someone with our son so I didn't have to go.
He didn't ever respond.
I know that he didn't like coming home to no one his first deployment and how much it meant to him after the second one that we were there; so that made no sense to me, but I let it go. When he was only a month away from coming home, he had a conversation with his other son's guardian.
That individual was concerned for me because of how angry he was at me and all the pent up hostility. Not to mention they sent him when he was already suicidal.
He had also been on suicide watch (from what I was told) while he was there and not taking medication; not sleeping. I was already scared of the violent outbursts when he had left. I wasn't about to live out in the middle of nowhere in a really cheap trailer that he could break into with no problem.
I honestly was scared that he would kill me.
So, I called my father and I moved home. I was able to confront the fact that the soldier that I supported and loved, had verbally abused me for the last year and a half of my marriage. That I had been close to being a victim of physical violence and I was lucky to get out when I did.
I hadn't dealt with my own pain of the situation as I had buried it away. I didn't know if I would be ready to confront the fact I couldn't make my second marriage work. I never was good at failure and this was the biggest failure I could have had. I still took most of the blame though; for triggering his symptoms and it took until 2014; to stop blaming myself. To finally put the blame on the person that was responsible for it instead.
It was a good thing that I moved so far away; because he was all over the place emotionally and mentally when he got back from Iraq. He did call and try to extort money from me. Stated if I sent him 4000 dollars he wouldn't take me to court and get me arrested for kidnapping his son.
Mind you, he must think I can't read, because I read our decree and all I had to do was notify him within 30 days before I move and I did by sending him an instant message and an email. Then he called two other times within that first year he was home, to tell me he would "hunt me down and kill me" if I didn't go to child support enforcement and close my case.
I told him no I wouldn't, all I was doing is getting it enforced so that way it was done through income deduction. He was mad because he was controlling the amount he was sending (which was never the full amount) and it kept going down and I couldn't deal with it anymore. I wanted it deducted out of his check. I didn't know how much he owed in arrears and so that also sent him over the edge.
Apparently it was my fault that he didn't have enough money to get a place to stay and he had to live in his car. I was under the impression, and call me an idiot, but I grew up in this life and I know that when I was a part of the military life, they provided something called a baracks room?
He said that he needed the BAH money and couldn't get the money while staying in the barracks. He went out (and while not getting enough income mind you) goes and gets a brand new car and a cell phone...what for? So he can obviously live in it.
I was talking and explaining and defending, and really? I should have just hung up on him and that was it. I still was convinced that he would hear me and what I was saying one day and realize that all that he complains about isn't my fault and I have nothing to do with it. I stopped waiting.
I had to file police reports because I was afraid for my safety. I wanted to seal my personal information in my child support case so he couldn't gain access to it through them.
The second time he threatened to kill me, they didn't just go to his command, the officer called him directly. My ex-husband was told that he was never to call me again and the threats were unacceptable and he didn't know about the cops there but the ones here didn't play around. (We live in a small town) He said not only was he not to call, he could have no third party communication with me.
He couldn't talk to anyone to give me a message, he couldn't talk about me at all with anyone that knew me, he couldn't send emails, use social networking, no texts, nothing. So if they knew me, he pretty much couldn't talk to them. He asked the officer how was he supposed to talk to his kid and the officer said that it wasn't his problem he can take it to court. Then the officer told him "Good luck with that though" because you can't be in the town limits or you will be arrested and escorted out of town after a night or more in jail.
He said he would just bring his paperwork to release his son to him on his visitation. The cop said "you do that, you would have to give it to us, we would escort you to their house and talk to them, and when they opened the door we would tell them that you were in town, show them the papers and tell them they aren't to release the child to him because he wasn't mentally stable to care for him". I don't think my ex called again after that for about six months.
Taji, Iraq 05-06/ 08-09/ 10-11
The Army's Strategy For A Dishonorable Discharge
From what I have been told from him as recently as June of 2012, when he returned to his unit after block leave he had a breakdown of some sort and then tried to commit suicide the next day. He had confessed to having an affair with another female soldier that had lived on the corner of our street and had been in his unit with him in Iraq. They were sleeping together from the moment he got there. He claims he didn't leave me for her. He said that when he got back he lived in his car until they forced him into the barracks.
He wasn't doing well apparently and after the suicide attempt he was begging to get out of the Army. They called him all sorts of names and degraded him. I don't agree with that in the slightest. The unit is responsible for what did happen to him and for what it did to him, he is responsible for his actively getting help for it and be better for his kids (which I don't believe he is doing and he uses it as an excuse to be the jerk he is). They wouldn't do the paperwork, then they refused to med board him out of the military.
At some point they decided to just give him an honorable discharge and let him do the process through the VA when he got out. One day they dropped a dishonorable on him and he flipped out yelling for them to change it back. They refused to said he was a dirt bag and the Army was better off without him. I do have to back him up on this point because he was an excellent soldier, worked hard, and he even got combat action badges and all that jazz.
He saw a lot of unpleasant things that no one should have to see, he left behind his family and came back mentally messed up and then lost that family. The least the Army could do is give him some benefits for that when he got out. Well apparently he thought so too because he just freaked out and threatened to kill the command. So they put him in psych.
I won't go into what was going on with the doctor stuff because that is between him and his doctor but I will say if it wasn't for that doctor he would have been kicked out with nothing. Legal was brought in and they went and basically laid it all out there for the command that they would have to prove all the stuff they didn't do they were supposed to for the last year with my ex and that wouldn't look good for their careers. The next day it was switched back and he was released with a bus ticket home.
I won't go into how he is now because he is the worst person I have ever met and I want nothing to do with him. He wants nothing to do with any of his children and has stated he wants to sign over rights. I have no idea if he really is goin gto get a job or if he is going to do nothing. I do know that the VA diagnosed him with Severe PTSD so that will be good news to some extent. Other than that all my point was that the Army doesn't care about the soldiers when they are no longer any good for them. They tried to shut me up the whole time and I was the only one that was trying to help him despite the extreme abuse I recieved the whole time.
Something needs to be done and I hope one day there is because who knows how many lives are being destroyed. I don't think he will ever be the man I married, again.
Update: In 2015, the kids and I moved back to Southern California. At this time, my ex had seen his son a couple times. Communication wasn’t great; but he was in contact and my son could talk to his father. I dropped any open child support cases when I left Wisconsin. Anytime a case was open; my kids father disappeared.
My ex has four kids, four different moms. Each with an open child support case. The man was running from everyone. His monthly income was just VA benefits and he owed per month more than he’d receive. He was so far in arrears I couldn’t fathom how he’d live AND get current.
It was more important to me that he got help for the PTSD. That he established a relationship with our son. Our son called my first husband and other three kids father; dad. So I closed my cases and have not pursued support since.
He has had severe issues maintaining healthy relationships. His PTSD is definitely a huge reason why. He says he’s still in love with me and wanted to reconcile a few times since the divorce; but I have always refused. I have opened up communication and have a friendship with him now; but, I’m still terrified of him.
I stayed virtually single from the divorce in 2010 until last year (2019). I supported my kids on my own. I have a lot of support from my first husband and his wife. My son has been able to live with him for an extended period of time; met that side of his dads family and now knows his oldest brother from his father.
Looking back I don’t regret fighting so hard to save my marriage. I do look back and am shocked to realize how I never noticed I wasn’t me anymore. I woke up one day and didn’t recognize myself. I tend to stand up and leave a lot faster now. I am still struggling with mental health but no longer blame myself. I am married; hopefully for the last time. I do know I will never be a victim again. I’m adamant there needs to be some reform in the United States Army. I forgave my ex-husband for all the pain he caused.
I can only hope that anyone out there who has had to live with a situation such as mine; that you know you aren’t alone.
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© 2011 Abigayle Rourk