Your Welcome Story
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Your Welcome Story > The Wife of a Combat Vet speaks up

My name is K_______, I was recently in touch with you over an outdated job posting on your website, you kindly mailed to me The Welcome. I am the mother of 3 small boys, I am the wife of the most patient and kind soul~ torn apart by Iraq. Torn apart by PTSD, TBI, and other crazy "we don't know what to classify *that* as..." wounds of this war. I am an advocate. Endless nights, like tonight, I educate myself, I reach out to other families who are being annihilated by life after combat. I am a nurse, 40 hours a week I go to the VA and work on an Acute Psych Unit. I see the heroine, the booze, the sex, the fight, the pride, the pain, the shame, the despair, the confusion, the tenderness.... every day. In young men. Young women. Old men. Old women. And everyone in between. My soul is drawn to the combat veteran. I work it, I live it, I love it, I hate it. It kills me, yet just before I feel I'm taking my last dying breath, it renews me. It brings me back. I fight for the combat veteran who has lost the will to carry on, I fight for the veteran who is so caught up in fighting he doesn't even know what he's fighting against/for anymore, I fight for the ones who didn't have a leg to stand on, I fight for the ones who fell on their faces. I fight for the veterans who put guns in their mouths, I fight for the wives who gently coax pistols out of shaking tired weary hands, I fight for the veterans for hang from rafters, and I fight for trail of anguish left behind. I fight for me. I fight like hell for my family. Everyday I wake up in the morning, slumbering man next to me, restrained and tangled by sheets and war, I chose. I will get up and continue on, as so many have done for me and my children, or I will bury my head in the pillow and wish for the end. Most often I chose to get up, hungry mouths and clammering babies eager to start the day, oblivious, yet not really, to the monster who has snuck under his bed, under ALL our beds, I resolve to raise my 3 young boys to be just half the man their Father is.

I know you will gently accept that I am only now watching The Welcome. It sat on my island in my kitchen, it made it through meals and messes and mail and that damn cat who will not stay off the counters.... It sat. Every day in my kitchen I noticed it presence. I had *no* idea what The Welcome was, and I noticed my eagerness had given way to fear, to anger, to saddness, to now.

It is 0239 central time. I was up early yesterday morning to ready my little boys for the day. Take the Husband to his umpteenth doctors appointment this week, and then, a brief play date with our new friends (Another Veteran who was in Iraq and his wife), and then, quickly ready for work all by 1500. I had groceries to get after work, and a brief trip in for milk turned into Strawberries for our Solomon, Radishes for my Husband, String Cheese for Simon, and baby food for Severin. I have to work again tomorrow (er- today I guess) at 1500... I wanted to leave the boys with something to brighten their day as they feel their way through this wicked hell with Daddy.

But my groceries Bill, they still sit on the kitchen floor, as I was moved to put that damned movie in and watch it. I have watched 26 minutes and 13 seconds, but I felt compelled to stop to email you.

I need that. I need The Welcome. I need the coming together. I have no idea how this will all pan out, but so far I am amazed by the beauty of the landscape, the calm and gentle redirection, and the fight I see in these people.

I know that fight.

Thank you for sending The Welcome. It has already impacted me in ways that are unseen.

As my husband snores and tosses in the next room, I wish you good night, or good morning..... I'm pressing play.

Chapter II

Just made it through the first 3 poems read... you, as the producer, likely have these people in your address book. I am broken hearted listening to the mother, on my knees crying with the woman who terminated a pregnancy, and in still and silent shock at the Dutch man.... Thank them for me.

Chapter III

And Miserere....loud and clear. Jesus, this is incredibly painful to watch, yet only because I know. I know. Thank you so much for sending this. I'm not sure my husband will be able to watch this. Not now, not yet.... I pray and beg and bargain with the devil that he will one day be at a point that he can watch this....

Chapter IV

The woman who speaks with sadness and pain wrapped tightly around each word. Suicide. The question in our minds bouncing around like a red rubber ball... while we try to keep calm on the outside, Why Baby? Why can't I be enough to live for? Why are our children not enough for you....

I don't know.

Hug that woman for me.

Chapter V

"The better he got, the worse I got"
That right there. Why?! Why do we do that! So many of us, caregivers, wives... Crazy.

After watching The Welcome I cannot be silent.

K, Minnesota

June 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterBill Mc Millan

Thank you for being there K.
I hug that woman all day everyday every chance I get and she knows she is enough.
Bob E.

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Eaton

Bob, you are an old soul, thank you for sharing your story. Finally rendered speechless.... Thank you for your service, and g*ddamn Bob, Welcome Home.

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKat P.

Leave The Welcome out on that counter. Don't push it on him but be encouraging when it does come up. Your husband will watch it when he is ready. Although it is recommended that combat vets watch this with someone I have had vets tell me they watched this film alone or with other vets because of the personal nature of our stories. Only he knows. It is hard hitting and it does hit home regardless of which war we fought in or as loved ones, have endured.
The contents of this film is comparable to what happens in intense therapy groups with the VA, the difference being that it is not offered to the public as Kim, Bill and crew have so artfully done.
An eye opener is an understatement.
Keep speaking out and never be rendered speechless when it comes to showing how much you care for us.
We may not show it but we do appreciate it. Thank you for enduring our pain, second hand PTSD is a hard road.
Thank your husband for me for his service and tell him welcome home from an ol' Nam combat disabled vet.
Bob E.

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob Eaton

Dear K. Minnesota,

Thank you for your extended hug-thoughts and I send them back to you many, many fold. Participating in The Welcome retreat was a life-changing, soul cleansing experience for both me and my vet husband. He finally felt safe enough among his "bros" (in spite of the cameras rolling) to heave out a lot of the war poison that had infected him, me and our marriage for 30 years. Much of that time I spent working in the darkness of that unknown shadow, trying to figure out the reasons for my man's anguished behavior and how the hell I could fix him. He kept it stuffed all those years and I was mostly clueless back then about PTSD (as were many of us after Viet Nam).....until TW retreat.

Needless to say, I was blown away by his big "flashback" episode during the retreat and it was the catalyst to my finally understanding (and forgiving) all those years of endless trauma/drama. Not since have I asked him why he can't get over something that happened many decades ago. We were on the verge of divorce when we went to the retreat, but the healing that Bob & I, and many of the other participants, experienced was the great turn around in our marriage and lives. We found a new goal and way to heal ourselves, and that was by way of speaking out to civilians in our communities about the need to get involved in the welcoming home of the young veterans of these most recent wars. We also do work mentoring these young vets and their family members to get the help they need to adjust to the new reality of this insidious war that has come home with and to them.

I'm so glad to hear that you have resolved not to be silent. After all, we are the community the soldiers come back to. It is to us that the burden primarily falls to pick them up, be their caretakers in addition to all the other jobs we have as wives, mothers, & often the breadwinners while ( & after) our men have been to war. And what our government, the media, etc. don't seem to take much notice of is.....we are the MAJORITY! Just multiply the number of returning vets by all their spouses, mothers, fathers, siblings, other relatives & friends that are living with or are influenced by the behavior of the after-war soldiers/veterans. The vet is the pebble in the center of the ever widening circle in the pond. So don't ever again apologize for having second-hand PTSD. It's no more your fault than it is the fault of our soldiers for screaming out at night with horrific dreams of war.

My prayers are with you, your vet and family. Be thankful that more is known and "out
there" about the hidden wounds these days. Hopefully you and yours won't have to go 30 years before the healing begins.

Anyway, I'm still looking for a retreat in my community strictly for spouses & family members of our soldiers & veterans. How's that for a ground-breaking retreat and movie? I'm game. How about you?

Warm regards,
Moe Eaton

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMoe Eaton

.Dear K from Minnesota: I am an Army mom . I thank you for this post. You have a rare gift of being able to make this issue real - and at the same time you inspire and support the many family members and friends who are right there with you in similar situations. There are so many who love and want to help our returning war veterans. Yet, the tools and the way forward is often unclear and confusing. " The Welcome" opens hearts and doors - and shows hope and possibility. I have included my e-mail address and hope that you (and/or others on this thread) might be open to connecting for conversation and support. E-mail: Namaste!

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Ingraham

Moe I am still processing your comment. I have so much respect for you and your husband. Know that I am sitting in quiet reverence. I just don't know what to say...but the words are building.... thank you for your sacrifice and leading the way and sharing with me. You have touched me ~Kateri of Minnesota

June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKateri