Tonight my husband came home. After one hundred and twenty-six days of living with the silent companion of anxiety, I can close my eyes to the world of Afghanistan and breathe in the scent of my heart’s perfume. He is next to me and the bed will no longer be chilled as I slide onto his side. I place my arms around him, trying to squeeze away the last bit of space left between us. He kisses the top of my head but sleep is quick to claim him tonight. I let him fall to dreams, content just to be complete again; it is difficult to describe the fullness of my heart. Tomorrow is all too quickly approaching and I will never have another one of these nights. For this is the last time my husband will return from war. He has fired his last bullet at the enemy and he will no longer be the target of freedom. In a few short months we will be able to begin our life without the limits of deployment schedules holding us back. We can return to the place where our love began and our first home took residence as a Mr. and Mrs. Surely the best is yet to come—tonight, my dreams will be sweet.
Throughout the course of military service, marriages are tested by unique challenges. If you come out whole and together it may seem you’ll be fit enough to endure any obstacle which may arise. However, upon transition into the civilian world, most military couples suddenly find that they’ve entered onto a new battlefield—one that they’re potentially less prepared for.
Recently separated servicemen can seem to suddenly experience a behavioral change-angrier, depressed, unmotivated, just to name a few traits. But, their behavior lacks the significant PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) qualities. These servicemen may not have nightmares, specific triggers, or the other more overt and extreme symptoms often pegged to PTSD. Yet, they are still suffering as they transition away from military culture. After continued research into this into this specific transition, I began to recognize the substitutional differences between what a veteran might experience when not faced with a true form of PTSD.
What I discovered is that there are two different conditions, yet most people associate PTSD with more routine military transition. These conditions should be categorized distinctively. What is vaguely referred to as transition issues has not been clinically defined, so with this in mind, I have coined what I believe to be a more accurate and specific definition. Many veterans experience transition issues in some form. I will refer to it throughout the book as Military Separation Anxiety (MSA) and will define it more thoroughly in later chapters. This anxiety condition is even something military wives may experience along with their spouses. Yet, this is not a subject many couples realize they will have to work through upon the shift out of military service. My intention with this book is to bring awareness and healing to those marriages weathering this unique season.
At the beginning of each chapter you’ll find the fictional thoughts of a veteran’s wife. As a veteran’s wife you may even relate to the changes and situations the veteran’s wife is encountering. These fictional accounts are composites of experiences I have heard about from other military wives or experienced myself. They are essential scenarios to be chewed and digested. They will help make each chapter relatable to the struggles and challenges facing you and your spouse. In addition, included are two veteran letters to their wives. These are real letters written as a testimony to how important the spouse’s support truly is. This work blends emotions with straightforward nonfiction discussion. Exiting military service may seem simple, but it puts in motion many aspects we must learn to understand, or risk ending up in greater suffering. Gaining freedom doesn’t come without its price, both on the battlefield and off.
The process of change is described in many words: transition, transport, transverse, translate. It is the passage from one place or thing to another. It’s the part of the journey that lies in the middle, after the departure but before the arrival.
Like the journey a caterpillar undertakes as it transforms into a butterfly, the transition phase inside the chrysalis is one of the most important stages of the delicate metamorphous. Here is
when it will be determined if the caterpillar will ever fly its wings. It is the point at which the insect will become the most susceptible to predators. And yet most of the tiny creature’s life has been spent surviving and preparing for the final transformation into a butterfly.
It is this path that our men walk. Here where the transition of time into the civilian world will either sharpen the heart or break it. What happens during this transition will determine the fate of the couple’s outcome, or if the destination from the transition is reached at all.
This transition period is your new battlefield, the one no one talked about! This is where many have found themselves and yet, have had nowhere to turn for understanding. These are new enemies. I hope this book better prepares you for this ensuing new stage of war. I encourage you to not go at this journey alone—join with your fellow wives, or if you can, share what you have discovered in these pages with your spouse. As a resource to encourage communication, there are discussion questions available at the end of the book.
”Excerpt From: Hillary Sigrist. “Leaving War, Finding Love: A Veteran’s Transition.”