One Spouse's Story
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Megan Cain's Story of Survival and Hope is Our Story
Megan knew the risks when her husband was deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines in January 2005. But Operation Iraqi Freedom was especially hard on the members of his unit. Forty-six Marines and two Navy Corpsmen were killed during their yearlong tour, including 23 over a particularly devastating three-month stretch in the summer of 2005.
While Megan's husband was one of the lucky ones who survived, the infantryman and squad leader was not unscathed by the events of his tour. His experiences, including three IED explosions, left him with PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury. When her husband returned from Iraq, Megan was ecstatic to have him home. But she was unprepared for the man who came back. Along with several minor physical injuries, he experienced severe mood swings and memory loss. "When he came home, he was a different man. So different, it feels like the man I had married died over there," says Megan. The days and weeks that followed were a struggle. Her husband seemed like a stranger.
"He could appear calm one minute and suddenly yell out at the children in a rage," Megan recalls. "Crowds would overwhelm him and open spaces would have him scanning constantly for snipers or something would trigger a memory driving down the street and I find myself assuring him that bags of trash or dead animals on the side of the road are not roadside bombs."
Megan didn't understand what was happening. "As time went on, I seemed to be left with just this anger and resentment," she says. "At times, the grief was so intense and the emotions so overwhelming that I doubted I could go on."
During that time she felt completely helpless and alone. Feeling somehow responsible for the deterioration of their marriage and unwilling to discuss what was happening with anyone, she continued to feel lost and isolated. Finally there was an incident that made Megan fear she might loose her children. She desperately continued researching everything she could find to learn and understand more about PTSD, TBI and its effects on combat veterans. She also signed her husband up for several retreats, attended others herself and included the whole family in others. Through these opportunities, they both began to come to terms with the situation and recognize that they would need to find a new normal. They committed to work together to forge a new future for their family.
Things will never be the way they were and they will never be easy. Their life will always be challenging. But with education and understanding, support and counseling, they have learned how to recognize triggers. The children have come to understand that sometimes things are just more difficult for their father, while he has learned to recognize when he feels like he is loosing control and removes himself from the situation until he is in a better place.