I will never forget the conversation one year ago when my husband and I decided to switch our game plan and work as a team to do whatever it takes to get him the support he needed after his tour in Afghanistan. He asked me to attend all of his appointments during the medical release process from the Canadian Armed forces and I showed up.
“They always say that time changes all things, but you actually have to change them yourself” – Andy Warhol
I never thought that I would be sitting here writing about what “showing up” looked like, but I can’t imagine not sharing this with you now. I don’t want anyone else to feel like I did this past year. If I can help you not feel alone then that’s a good first step. I fought to tell my husband’s story and get his voice heard. I spent a lot of time thinking about the other people in similar situations who could not stand up for themselves or their spouses.
My husband and I worked hard to advocate for adequate treatment during his final year in the military. We moved mountains this year but we spent just as much time, if not more sliding down them. I want to thank every single person that helped pick me up as I nursed my wounds from these helping moments. To say this was not my shiniest year is an understatement.
We met some amazing people who went above and beyond to help us navigate the release process and I miss them dearly. There are also key people in our immediate circle who we can’t thank enough for helping us. I am forever grateful for all of the kind words, messages and endless coffees amongst all of this chaos. I know it’s been messy.
I had no idea that life after war would be this complicated. I am not naive enough to think that it wouldn’t be a lifelong challenge but I believed it would get “easier” with time. I blindly believed in the military training, the military health system and all of the secrecy that I am still trying to wrap my head around.
I am slowly realizing that I have a voice. I feel like this awareness is leading me to share my story or “herstory” while still respecting the privacy of my husband and “history”.
Afterall, history is herstory too.
There is a major need for real, honest conversation about the support and care provided to veterans, their families and their caregivers.
“Be the change you want to see in this world”
Each day that I stay silent with this knowledge waiting for someone to ask me about my experience is one more day that someone else may be suffering alone. I know how to help.
I know that YOU are out there. I know you’re tired, confused and don’t know if you are “enough”. You ARE enough. I AM enough.
I am here for you.
Your story matters too.