As time goes by

The world is constantly changing.  In fact, change is the only thing that I have come to count on.  But, when you leave to a theatre of combat you miss all the change.  It is almost as if your world stands still.  While your children grow and develop, while your family builds a routine that no longer includes you.  While the newest iPhone goes to market.  While movies are released and music is created and businesses open.  You miss it all.  I left the day after my son’s 2nd birthday, 2 months after the birth of my daughter, 6 months after purchasing our first home.  I came home to a 3 year old son, and a 1 year old daughter that didn’t know me, and a wife that had developed a routine that didn’t involve me.  It was a very hard time for me.  I didn’t sleep well, actually I didn’t sleep at all.  Maybe once every 3 or 4 days, for a few hours at best.  I still don’t sleep well and have used multiple prescriptions to try to help, with little success.  DoTERRA Vetiver has a permanent home on my night stand to help with sleep.  It only took my children about a week to become afraid of me.  I was hard to live with.  Angry, crabby and filled with hate.  Often starring into nothing, physically present but mentally gone.  The VA called it an adjustment disorder at first.  Now, almost 3 years later they call it PTSD.

I injured my lower back and knee overseas.  Along with that came acute and chronic nerve issues and now a problem with my hip.  Along with all of that fun I was also diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, which the VA believes developed from an acute infection acquired in Afghanistan.  Thanks a lot Bin Laden.

Looking back on it now.  I can tell you that I was clearly depressed.  My outlook on life was very negative.  I remember having days where I could barely get out of bed and Melissa had to help me get dressed.  At times tears would pour down my face as I as sitting because I was in so much pain.  It is a horrible feeling to believe that you will never be able to play catch with your son, or be able to help your daughter learn how to do a handstand.  I was defeated.  I had given up.  The person I saw in the mirror was not me, rather a hollow shell of my former self.

From where we came

from Melissa

Tyler and I met in high school. We became close friends during those years, and then lost each other after graduation for a short period. As fate would have it, we both moved back to our hometown within a month of each other, and reconnected. As they say, the rest is history. In the beginning of our relationship, we had a lot of ups and downs, and enjoyed our 20’s together. Towards the end of my radiologic technology training, Tyler decided to join the military. In February of 2009, Tyler was sworn in to the Army National Guard of South Dakota. Little did I know our lives would never be the same.

September 11, 2009 was the day that Tyler flew to Fort Knox, KY to begin his training as a soldier. At the time I thought this would be the hardest thing we would ever go through, to be away from each other for 3 months, boy was I wrong. During his training in Fort Knox, and then Fort Leonard wood, MO, Tyler grew to love the military and his purpose with it.  There was even discussion of leaving the National Guard, and transferring to active duty.

After returning home from his training’s, life returned to normal. He spoke of his “battle buddies” often, keeping in touch with several of them as they all went separate ways after AIT. One of the most frequent names that I heard him speak of, was Dawson. You see, Dawson was his bunk mate at Fort Leonard wood. They grew to be as close as brothers.

Shortly after leaving AIT, Dawson was activated and deployed to Afghanistan. He was only 20 years old. I could tell that this affected Tyler, he had a desire to be there with his buddy, but knew that it wasn’t his time yet.

Then the news came. Dawson gave the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. I watched as this rocked my hero to his core.