Army Wives

Soldiers weren't the only ones who had stories about their experiences during Vietnam War. Their wives had a few words of their own. They had to live with the worry of knowing their husbands might not come home. And the husbands who did come home, brought home mental stress and other disabilities from the war.

Catherine de Courcy, a Vietnam War army wife, writes about her husband having post traumatic stress disorder and how she coped with him when he came home.
Adventure in Grief
I am a Vietnam Veteran’s widow. My husband, John, served with the Australian army in Vietnam in 1968-69 and killed himself in 2000. For the last two years of his life his extreme reactions to post- traumatic stress dominated our lives and pushed us both to the edge of sanity. Other veteran wives will understand how I could continue to make dinner while John threatened to shoot himself. On a Thursday in December he finally killed himself.

I have spent the last eight years putting myself back together again and, it turns out after talking to Danna, dealing with secondary PTSD. It has been a roller coaster of dark nights, debilitating physical responses and emotional disintegration but also of discovery and ultimately a joyful self-awareness.

More specially, the deep love I had for John, which had been challenged by his PTSD, sits peacefully and easily in my heart now.

The following stories are also from veteran wives. Though each woman had their individual experiences, all the women shared the same experience of struggling with a man who looked like their husband, but deep down, was a different man.

*Their Stories*

I'm Sorry, I Couldn't Stand By Him

I turned 20 in 1973. From then until 1979, I was married to a Vietnam veteran 6 years older than me. He'd already been in the Navy for 6 years -- 4 years on an aircraft carrier, then 2 years volunteered for river boats.
He never hit me so I never called it "abuse." But sometimes when he was depressed and drunk, he would take one of his guns,a sawed-off twelve gauge or a .30-30 rifle, and say he was going to kill himself, other times he'd say he was going to kill me, too. I probably looked down the barrel of a gun held by a PTSD's Viet vet at least a dozen times.

I still have nightmares about it. It still affects my relationships.
I still have PTSD from my experience.
In 1979, I left him.
I still think of him often. I hope he has somewhere, somehow, found someone who can help him get help.He wasn't an evil person; he had an evil experience.
If I were to encounter him today, I'd apologize that I wasn't the one that could help him. To those of you who haven't been able to stand by your vets, I understand.
To those of you who have been able to stand by your vets, thank you.

25 Years By His Side

After 40 years, my husband is finally getting the psyche and medical treatment he needs. Unfortunately it came close to the cost of his life.

After two years of surviving on creative renditions of chicken and beannie weanie dinners, the money from over 25 years, of both of us working over time, was almost gone. Thoughts of living on the street were not encouraging at the age of 60. So began the humiliating efforts of applying for compensation.

After two years of paper shuffling, doctor visits, and horrendous medications, my husband finally got his permanent and total 100% disability for service related PTSD. His comment when the papers arrived? " I would gladly give it all back, if I could only go back to work like I used to." With his determination came life threatening medications, and a severe loss of self pride. I have stood with him for over 25 years, and plan to be here from now on. But it breaks my heart in any case. My only hopes at this point are that the vets returning today will not be forgotten nor looked down upon.

A Caring Wife standing by her "New Man".
The NEW Man I Live With

My husband and I met during high school and married 3 years later (I was 19, he was 22). About two years later, after the attacks on the WTC & Pentagon on Sept 11, 2001, my husband joined the Army. I respected and honored his decision. I was intensely proud that he was willing to step up – to defend his country – to willingly go to war to protect his homeland.
The man I was married to in 2001 was kind, sweet, and unbelievably tender. Random strangers would stop us in grocery stores and parks to tell us how incredibly “in love” we looked. They told me how blessed I was to be married to a man that so obviously adored me. I didn’t realize at the time how right they were.

Fast forward seven years. My husband has spent a little over 27 months in Iraq, both tours in “hot spots” as part of an Infantry unit. He has spent days & months on end surrounded by bad guys, trying to determine who was friend and who was foe, doing his best to keep himself and the guys around him alive. His unit stopped taking count of bodies at 684 – just about 3 months into their last tour of 12 months. My husband was raised in the woods, can shoot accurately at several hundred feet, and thus played a large part as the “go to” guy in his unit for “touchy” situations. My husband turned into an excellent soldier at the same time he turned into a pretty bad husband.
I’m no shrinking violet. I rose to the occasion as a military wife. Acted as FRG leader, conducted fundraising campaigns, didn’t complain about deployments, training, or other military activities that called my husband away. And really, now, I don’t mean to sound like I’m ranting about what “the military” did to our family. I’m still incredibly proud of my husband’s service and intensely patriotic – I
was just so completely unprepared for the aftermath of OIF.

I now live with a new husband. He looks the same (or pretty much the same) but now seldom touches me, stands and stares at me if I cry, flies off the handle at the smallest unwelcome surprise, curses at me, screams, throws things, etc., etc. If it weren’t so scary and sad, I would say he reminds me of an out-of-control three year old – kicking and screaming because he can’t process the world around him.
I’m not sure why I wanted to add this to the “VVW Views” – but I guess it’s to say to anyone out there who is now living with a NEW husband that you’re not alone. I was feeling so very alone until I called the VVW and talked to Danna. In the space of an hour on the phone, she let me know I wasn’t alone because thousands of other women are going through and have gone through the same thing with husbands who are suffering from PTSD. There’s a strength that comes from not feeling like the “only one” – a strength that I’m thankful to have – a strength I need to get through the coming days as our family tries to cope and learn to live again – a strength I hope to share with any of you who need it.
Thanks for listening, Still Standing Beside My “New” Man

Now there is the questions of: Were these women forgotten? Did America forget about the wives of the soldiers who were at war. Click herefor an article that explains what happened to these women while there husbands were away.

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