My Wife was asked by our local newspaper to talk about being married to/life with a combat veteran. The story was never published, but we did get to meet with the mayor of our community and submit the paperwork needed to have a banner with my photo placed on a post somewhere in the township, as they have done for many other veterans. I wanted to share what she sent.
Being married to a combat veteran is hard.
“Hard” is an adjective that means “requiring a great deal of effort,” in case you were wondering. Which makes me rethink the adjective I just used to describe what being married to a combat vet is like. A better word may be demanding. At any rate, being in a romantic relationship with someone who has contributed firsthand to the atrocities of war is by no means a cakewalk.
It requires a great deal of understanding. In my experience, combat vets largely believe they are undeserving of love. I do not know why this is. In our eyes, or at least in mine, they are selfless and valiant heroes deserving of so much more. They do the jobs that most “men” cannot and will not do. These veterans do the unspeakable for the sake of their country, and the aftershocks of their violence unfortunately do not leave them once they get back home.
Beyond this, I would venture to say every combat vet has been touched by death. To them, they are undeserving of life’s pleasures because of a perverse, disproportionate logic: Each vet knows someone who was killed in the war they continued to fight, and there was likely someone they loved among those lost. A brother in the truest sense, in their eyes. Those men will never have the chance to be happy, ergo, the vet shouldn’t be happy either. In his words, anyone could have been killed. It could have been me. So why should I be happy — HOW can I be — knowing how easily our places could have been switched? It’s the most disconsolate way of torturing oneself I have ever heard of. He’ll torture you with his words: You don’t get it. You’ll never get it. You just can’t. But hopefully, it will mean enough to him that you care enough to try.
I endure many a sleepless night because my vet does. But not once have I ever complained about getting alarmingly awakened by his blood-curdling scream, or being kept up most of the night by his muttering evil memories in his sleep, or even consoling him when he is sobbing uncontrollably on the edge of the bed. Where most women might silently protest, I do not. I endure these things because I almost feel a duty to; my vet spent nearly two years in a desert so I could sleep safely at night. Even though “sleep” is sometimes an undiscovered venture, I at least know I’m safe because I lie next to him. This moves me to another point: their strength, in every sense of the word, is totally unconquerable. My vet reminds me there is no tragedy that can befall me that cannot be overcome. He reminds me that there is no one or thing that I should fear as long as he is in my life. Both his physical strength and emotional strength have all but totally abolished fear from my life. Many people choose to ignore our vets or hate them for what they’ve had to do. Many people are ignorant of what being a combat vet even really entails or means. It is an honor to be among those who respect, admire, and appreciate their sacrifices, both great and small.