Veteran Appreciation: God Bless America
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
A journey of military life from a wife's perspective.
Let me start at the beginning.
As I type this, my Husband and I have been married seventeen years. We have three children. The older two are from my previous marriage.
My Husband lost his job at the beginning of 2009 because of the economic crash at that time. For three months he went to every business where we lived at that time in California to apply for jobs. He was constantly shown a stack of papers and told, "Here is your waiting list." So he went door to door asking for any work he could do. Mow lawns, fix things. He is quite a handyman, one of the many things I love about him. I was working as a para-educator for autistic and deaf and hard of hearing preschoolers at that time.
In July, my Husband saw me looking at a friend's Facebook profile and pictures of his recent travels. He asked me how this Friend was able to travel so often. I replied, "He is in the Army." My husband walked away quietly, which means he is off thinking. He then came back and said he was going to try to get into the Army again. In 2007 he tried before to join the Army but doors kept shutting. This time however God opened all the doors and he left in August on our Oldest Son's birthday to basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia.
In the seven years of marriage, this was the first time we had been separated for four months. We wrote letters to each other every single day. However, I did not get to hear from him until mid-October.
The reason it was so tough was because I was then faced with a choice. Do I continue to live where we are already established with a job, family, and friends? Or do I move with him? Family and friends really were trying to convince me to stay. I prayed:
"Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me for you are the God who saves me. All-day long I put my hope in you."
God kept speaking to me that I needed to be with my Husband otherwise it would be detrimental to our marriage. God lead me to:
"Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy."
"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go."
This gave me hope and courage to follow my Husband.
I then had court to deal with for the custody of my older two children in order to move to another state and in this process I got to see another side of people I really did not want to see. I felt so very alone and hurt. Nobody attended my side in court with me. This became my prayer:
Psalms 63:1, 6-8, 11:
"O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water... I lie awake thinking of you, meditation on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right-hand holds me securely...But the king will rejoice in God. All who trust in him will praise him while liars will be silenced."
Romans 8:27-28, 31 gave me hope:
"And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the Good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them...What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"
God kept repeating to me: "If God is for us, who can ever be against us?"
God then gave me Romans 12:18-21 in order to properly respond to people and allow Him to fight my battles.
"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the Lord. Instead, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink...Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good."
I was given permission to take my children with me.
In November, my Oldest Son came home with the swine flu. He had it for two days. My Daughter for one and my Youngest Son did not get it at all, praise the Lord. However, I on the other hand had it for three weeks and developed pneumonia on top of it. I ended up in the hospital because my oxygen levels were so low. My Mom and my Aunt helped tremendously during that time.
My Husband came home just before Christmas. He was home for about a week and then had to report to Fort Lewis, Washington. Come to find out that a few of his Battle Buddies who were in basic training with him got stationed in the same place.
He then established a home on McChord Air Force Base for us which was a blessing. It is a different atmosphere on the Air Force Base compared to the Army Base. The bases later joined together to become JBLM - Joint Base Lewis McChord. My Husband also established a church for us to attend.
We moved in February. My Husband was able to take a three day leave to help with the move.
My Husband's Battle Buddies were the ones who we hung out with the most. They became family to us. They would come over to our place to hang out and have BBQs and play board games, Frisbee, football, and to wrestle, lots of wrestling.
Then we got notice that they were all deploying in March, on the same day I had to take my older children to visit with their side of the family for Easter. So we did not get to have a proper goodbye and send off for them. The kids and I had a sixteen-hour drive to California.
On the following day while visiting my Mom I received a call from my Husband to let me know he made it safe to a transition place before he actually moves to his station duty. It was a very short call because as soon as he said he made it safe, I hear whistle sounds and explosions in the background. He quickly said he is being mortared and had to go. I prayed and paced the floors of my Mom's place. It was the most nerve-wracking hours before he finally could call me to let me know he was safe.
When the kids and I returned from the week visit with family, we came home to a very empty and quiet home. No joyful noises, no BBQs. Just me and the kids.
It was very hard to make friends. Ever since the court experience, I had a lack of trust for others and still was working on forgiveness. God was teaching me and working on my heart:
"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."
"And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. 'The second is equally important: "Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandments is greater than these."
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"
Of military families on base, I only made friends with one. She had four children. Her children and my children became good friends.
Living on base is very stressful because of this anticipation that your loved one will be called to deploy, or if already deployed, killed in the line of duty.
Men in uniform came to my door during this first deployment. I really thought it was about my Husband and my heart dropped. However, it was because of a gunshot that went off on base in the housing area and they were trying to find the location of where it happened.
This was the hardest deployment ever. I had to really learn to be an authoritative parent and to do things on my own with absolutely no backup from family or friends. His paycheck also was not coming in either for some reason and did not get fixed until his return home. I was thanking God that we lived on base at this time because they never once asked for the rent. We were only making it by on credit cards for the utility bills and the food bank from the church we attended. I was busy with household care and maintenance, kids schooling, and doctor appointments. Since the move, both my Daughter and Youngest Son developed asthma. On my downtime, I crocheted and prayed while creating half of a queen size blanket.
I prayed Psalms 5:3 asking for answers, wisdom, and strength:
"Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly."
In reply I was given Luke 12:22-26, 31:
"Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing...Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can't accomplish a little thing like that, what's the use of worrying about bigger things?... Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need."
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
Four and a half months later my Husband returned. Just in time for the 4th of July, his birthday and Father's day. Of which half a scrapbook was created. The kids helped by creating a page for my Husband and a page for each of his Battle Buddies. The guys cried and said they appreciated that more than all the "thank you for your service" they received in the airport when they got off their flights.
Our home on base had some plumbing issues in September so we were moved to a temp house on base. It was two stories with a basement right next to the park. My Husband and I were not getting along very well at this time. He was having a hard time adjusting to being back because the kids were coming to me for everything now and not to him anymore. He was also having a hard time because his unit was being investigated and it meant hours of interrogation for him.
I kept turning to 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13 to help me respond to my Husband in a godly way:
"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance...Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love."
He was then voluntold to attend a platoon bungee jump event. He did not want to go because he wanted to spend time with the family. I was glad he did go because when he returned he was back to normal. It was the adrenaline rush that helped, it was a form of release, and I am sure it was God answering my prayers. When he got home, he surprised me by taking me out to the park and playing Realize by Colbie Caillat to dance with him. It has become our song now. (The reason I know too that this is our song is because we recently bought a home. While we were doing the final cleaning of our rental this song came on and we both stopped what we were doing to go dance together to it.)
Throughout my Husband's military career there were a lot of missed holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries even when he was in the states.
One time the unit had to leave for a month training in Washington. During one of the night trainings with the strykers, there was an accident and two men were killed by a stryker going off a cliff.
The second deployment came in 2012 and he was deployed for nine months.
I felt this was the easiest deployment because I already knew what to expect.
However, at the very start of this deployment complications arose but I had the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding as stated in:
"Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
I got a new cell phone. The home phone only had local services because we used our cell phones for long-distance to call family. However, my new cell phone just stopped working. Wouldn't turn on at all on the same day my Husband left for deployment. Through the insurance, it would take a week to get my new one. I was fine with it because the house phone could be used and long-distance services were going to be added in three more days.
The kids were at school and I got on Facebook to check how family and friends were doing. An old Coworker who was friends with me and my Mom, (my Mom worked where I used to work). She contacted me via Facebook stating she needed my number to call me. It was bout my Mom. I gave her the number and she informed me that she saw my Dad's mug shot on the news and that the news said he shot my mother and she doesn't have any more information.
I had an immense amount of peace over me that I had never experienced before. I knew God's hand was involved in this whole situation. I then got on Facebook and posted that I just learned some news about my Mom and have no idea how to contact her. My Brother, who just so happened to have been fired from his job two days prior to this event, (I believe it was God's timing), happened to be on Facebook and messaged me wanting the details. (If he was still working he would not have been there at that same moment to get this information until he was off work.) He found out where Mom was located and that she was stable. My Mom thanked God she had excess weight because that is what saved her. A few cm closer and she would have been in trouble with internal damage. She also explained to me all that had happened.
God used this time to teach me His peace and how it actually feels. Which is amazingly Wonderful! He also taught me how the news twist things around and so now I selectively watch it. He also brought this opportunity to bring my Step Dad to Him and into the church, which he always criticized my Mom about wanting to go, and for them both to stop drinking.
"And this is the plan: At the right time, he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ - everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan."
I believe God can use whatever situation He wants to use to bring His will about in order to bring others to Him no matter how bad the situation may look.
During this second deployment, I completed the second half of the blanket I started in the first deployment.
My Husband had survived IED explosions by God's protection, the crashing of a stryker, and the falling off a two-story roof he was helping build. A ladder had caught him during his fall, but the whole side of his body was black and blue. He showed me during one of the Skype calls. I was very fortunate my Husband shared events he experienced each time he was overseas even though he was told not to. He brought a soldier to Christ, which then led the whole family of seven to Christ. Other soldiers would also come to him and ask him to pray for God's protection over them before they left on missions.
During this deployment, my Oldest Son informed me at the end of summer break in August that he would like to go live with his Dad and Mom in California after his freshman year of school with me. However, he was not doing good in school no matter the time and energy I put into him. He was having a hard time with the deployment and needed a father figure in his life. I had to make the hard choice of sending him to stay with his Dad and Mom in December during their Christmas break and not finish his freshman year with me. I beat myself up for quite some time. However, on Mother's day 2013, he sent me a card that made me cry something fierce. I knew I made the right choice because his grades were great and he graduated high school.
My Friend, the one I made while living on base, had gotten pregnant with her fifth child. However, shortly after the birth, in September, there were complications that arose and she called me to help with the care of her four children while they attended the care of the baby for three months in the hospital.
Also in September the church we were attending closed their doors due to lack of attendance and tithe coming in. I was so heartbroken by this event. I had taught the Fruits of the Spirit to the youth and had developed friendships with the church members and attended three weddings. Plus, my Daughter was baptized at this church. I also had a dream of a red church tucked into the corner of a hill that I was told I would be involved in and grow. At the time I thought it was the church I was attending and that it was going to move to a new building, but it turned out to be the church I am attending now (in California).
My Husband returned from deployment in December, enough time to spend with our Oldest Son before he went to live with his Dad and Mom. Plus at this time, my Friend was back home to care for her children. My Husband's Battle Buddies came back from their deployments as well but very different. They didn't come around as much anymore.
Then in January 2013 my Younger Brother's Father had passed away. My Youngest Brother was taking it the hardest and I felt terrible that I was unable to help him because I lived so far away.
On the 29th of the same month, I had fainted or passed out and hit my head. The doctors could not figure out what caused it. Either low blood sugar levels or because of the amount of stress I was under had finally caught up with me. I had partial amnesia. I could not remember passwords (I write them all down now by the way), I could not remember phone numbers, addresses, birthdays. I had a hard time with spelling words. Some of the people on my friends list on Facebook (after I finally remembered my password five days later) I did not recognize them. I cried in the Doctor's office because one of the tests was to name the presidents. I could remember the first and last, everything else was gone. A lot of memories were gone too. My children said I was different ever since, that I am better, nicer now. I also used to be very creative before this incident (painting, sewing, writing) and now after hitting my head, I am all about numbers, accomplishing goals, and getting the work done that needs to be done for God's glory.
I believe God allowed this experience to happen because it gave me an understanding for my Husband and others with PTSD, and as memories returned of my painful past, the want of them to stop because those flashbacks that are triggered by a sound, smell, taste, touch, sight or word are like you are there living through the nightmare again over and over, and you have to tell yourself you are a survivor, you have already lived through it.
God then reminded me of Philippians 4:8-9:
"And now, dear brothers and sister, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you."
I had to constantly change and redirect my thoughts. It is an exhausting mental battle and I understand why the suicide rate is so high for the military.
For three months I was not allowed to drive and had to go to so many doctor appointments. This put a strain on my Husband and got him into trouble with those in authority over him.
There are good things that have happened while in the military. Things I would not have gotten to experience if I decided to stay near family and friends and maintain life as it were.
We have gotten to see Seattle, explore Tacoma, hike up Mount Rainier, the marriage retreats the Army sent us on as a family by the ocean at the top of Washington state near the Canada border. The balls after the deployments, getting all dolled up and dancing the night away. The comradery. Getting to see and hear of the work my Husband was involved with while deployed and the differences he was helping to make. The train ride from Washington to California to visit family for Christmas. The free movies with the National Anthem played at the start of each show. Fourth of July experienced on base with the flag of each state represented by a soldier from that state. And many more things.
My Husband was chosen with a few other soldiers to be in the movie "Man of Steel" as a soldier. He was paid to hang out and eat with movie stars for two weeks in California. He sat by famous people and had no idea who they were while fellow soldiers he went with were all excited.
We were also chosen as a family to walk the red carpet with Iron Man. We bought our dress clothes for the event to then be told that the opportunity was given to another family. The kids were still happy with the fact that they got new dress clothes and found many opportunities to wear them. Plus, the Army then gave my Husband the day off and tickets to go see the movie when it came out.
My Husband was to be stationed in New York for three years to be trained as a helicopter mechanic. However, his body was not cooperating and so he had to med board out of the military. My Husband earned many awards and medals.
He also had a Sergeant First Class who caused him trouble because he was med boarding out of the military and didn't believe he had any problems, he would harass and belittle him until he learned that my Husband had ninety percent disability. The Sergeant First Class asked him how he could do the mile runs (which my Husband absolutely hated by the way) and do better than the young kids coming in. My Husband replied, "You taught me to have heart and push through to the finish." After this, he had great respect for my Husband and even gave him letters of recommendation and whatever else he may need.
In September 2013 we attended another church suggested by a fellow church member from the one that closed its doors. This church had mostly Filipinos in the congregation. They also had fellowship right after church service each Sunday. My Youngest Son refused to eat (because they had different food than what he was used to) until the day he was baptized there. After that, he ate with them every Sunday. We attended bible studies, had fellowship in some of their homes. And in November we renewed our marriage vows. We felt so much of God's love there.
It was hard to leave the church when God called us to move back to California in April 2014 after four and a half years of service in the military.
This move required us to let go of three-fourths of our possessions. We thought adjustment back to civilian life would be easy. It didn't work out that way. We were in the apartment for six months because my Husband could not handle being surrounded by so many people and the noises. He was constantly patrolling the house, checking out the windows, making sure they were locked as well as the doors.
This is also when he changed his name to only his last name because everyone kept trying to shorten his first name. (Which he thought was disrespectful.) Plus when I would call him by his first name, Hunny, babe, hey you...he would not respond. Finally, I called him by his last name and it has been an immediate response every time.
One year into being a civilian again and I was ready to call it quits with my Husband. He was so very difficult to deal with. It seemed any time the kids and I would talk with him that he would blow up at us. We were walking on eggshells. It was not good for me or the kids and I felt so alone and had nowhere to turn to or go. When driving he would drive in the middle of the road to avoid the manholes in fear of IEDs because of his experiences when he was overseas. It was very difficult to sleep with him because of his night terrors. I would wake up with bruises.
Unknown to me during this difficult time was that God was putting us through a restoration period. Bill Hamon stated it perfectly in his book Prophets and Personal Prophecy:
"Kind of like the process that goes on when an old automobile is restored. We were taken completely apart piece by piece, old beliefs and thought patterns, scattered over the garage, sandblasted to remove rust spots, given new parts to replace those that are worn out, and then reassembled and repainted. We had to first become a greater mess of confusion and debris before we were restored."
Some hope came when a gentleman from our church, who happened to be the president of the local chapter of the American Legion, told me about a group starting called VVA Support Group for Secondary PTSD. Another wonderful woman of God, who is a prayer warrior from our church, brought me the newspaper article which told me the time, date, and location. I put it on the calendar. My Husband saw the word VA in it and so he thought it was for him and he came along. We really were not on speaking terms at that time because I was afraid to speak, that if I did I would cause problems and all I wanted was peace. I was so glad we went to the meeting. I was quiet and just shaking my head. 'Yes, finally someone who is experiencing the same thing as me. I am not alone. I am not crazy.'
As we headed to the door when the meeting was over, my Husband leans over to me and whispers, "I'm not that bad am I?" All I could do is say, "huh". He was silent the whole drive home. He was thinking. Two days afterward I started to see a difference in the way he responded and reacted. There was a pause. He didn't let the trigger control him and he had made great strides. So have I.
We have been going to the monthly meetings ever since and it has greatly helped both of us and our relationship. He also gets to help others who attend the meeting to understand the military mindset and why their loved one is possibly doing what they are doing.
These are the verses given to me by God for encouragement and strength in order to respond and push through as He would have me to do during these difficult times. I hope they encourage you to confront the things in this world with His light.
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don't give up."
Ephesians 4: 2-3, 15-16, 23-27, 29-32, 5:1 (I had this scripture painted on the wall in one of my bathrooms when we lived in Washington);
"Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace...Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly, as each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love...Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God - truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And "don't sin by letting anger control you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry. For anger gives a foothold to the devil. Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you...Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children."
Colossians 3:12-15, 17:
"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful...And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."
1 Corinthians 10:31:
"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (God had repeatedly brought these verse back into my life):
"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
After five years of being out of the service, the VA had a reevaluation done, not by our request but by God's timing. My Husband's back had gotten worse and we didn't realize it because he was just living with the pain and pushing through it all, he is now one hundred percent disabled.
As I have shared this testimony, it has been ten years since the start of it all. I wouldn't change any of it because I have learned, gained strength, and grown closer to God through it by pressing on in faith in order to give Him glory in all circumstances.
I would like to end with a quote from Lioness Arising by Lisa Bevere:
"Our God is poised. He is in a position to make right what is wrong in this world...Allow the Holy Spirit to assess your strength in the light of God's Word, and allow hardship to become a training session, knowing you might rise up from it invincible. Allow the weight of God's Word and the tempering and training of the Holy Spirit to quicken and develop the weak or injured areas of your life. Shift your focus from how you look in your clothing to who you are in your spirit...Remember, when all the earth is filled with fear and is wondering what is going on, the God of heaven and earth, the Creator of all calls you to display his fearsome wonder in how you portray your life..."
Thank you for letting me share my experiences as a military wife.
Thank you for the precious gift of your time.