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Love, PTSD, and Moving Forward – My Military Family Healing Journey

Note: What I am about to share with you is deeply personal, a reflection of my military family healing journey that has both broken and built me in ways I could never have anticipated. It’s a story that, until now, I’ve only shared in pieces, always mindful of the delicate balance between vulnerability and strength. This is a testament to love, war, and the indomitable spirit of healing.

In the quiet moments before Dave’s first deployment to Iraq in April 2007, I could never have imagined the path we were about to walk. He stood before me, a symbol of strength and dedication, unaware of the invisible battle we were both enlisted to fight. I adored him and was in 100%.

April 2007 – Moments before Dave’s 1st deployment

Unfortunately, it was a battle that would stretch beyond the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, seeping into the very fabric of our lives and testing the limits of our love and resilience. As the years passed, each deployment layered our story with complex emotions—pain, growth, and fleeting peace.

By mid-2014, after Dave’s return from Afghanistan, our pain deepened further. The shadows of PTSD grew longer and more pervasive, marking the beginning of an internal war that proved to be our greatest challenge.

Dave’s struggle with PTSD and chronic suicidality, exacerbated by the stress of reintegration, brought us face-to-face with the harsh realities of military life. The toll it took on our family was immeasurable, manifesting in cycles of domestic violence, emotional turmoil, and a constant battle against the stigma of seeking help. It was a fight not just for survival, but for the soul of our family.

March 2024 – Celebrating our Grandson’s 1st birthday

Recently, our journey took a painful turn when Dave made the tough decision to leave, hoping to focus on his mental health. This turn of events, while devastating, is a poignant reminder of the deep-seated challenges we faced—challenges that, despite our best efforts, remained insurmountable.

This decision is a stark reminder of the insurmountable challenges we faced together. The road we traveled was marked by Dave’s brave but torturous battle with the demons of war, a battle that spilled over into our home, embedding itself into the very essence of our daily lives.

The reality we lived is one many military families know all too well, yet it remains shrouded in silence.

Our journey through PTSD, domestic violence, and the relentless cycle of crisis and momentary calm exposes a truth too critical to ignore: the systems in place to support veterans like Dave and their families are failing us.

In the aftermath of Dave’s departure, I find myself navigating a sea of emotions. There’s profound sadness for the loss of my partner, my friend, and the shared dreams now adrift.

Yet, within this storm of grief, there’s a glimmer of resolve. This pivotal moment compels me not just to reflect but to act—to use our story as a beacon for change.

May 2018 – DC Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Proclamation

Our JavaCupcake community, the Betsy Eves Group, Rock Island Farm—each of these ventures was born from a desire to make a difference, to connect and to heal. They stand as testament to what we can achieve together, beyond the confines of our personal struggles.

As I move into and try to embrace this new chapter, it’s with a heart heavy, but also with one buoyed by hope and a steadfast resolve. This turning point, though born from pain, opens a doorway to healing and an opportunity to light the way for others navigating their own turbulent journeys.

Picking up Dave on RnR a few days before my Mother’s passing in 2010

I carry forward not just my own dreams, but those of my mother, a resilient military spouse who, alongside my father’s service, laid the foundation of courage, sacrifice, and unwavering support.

She passed away in 2010 without seeing the end of this war’s shadow over our family, but her spirit guides me. I am their legacy. It’s through their examples of service and love that I’ve learned what it means to stand in the face of adversity, to serve those who have served us, and to fight for the peace and happiness that seemed just out of reach.

April 2023 – Baking and selling sugar cookies for the Farmers Market!

This journey has felt very solitary. To the JavaCupcake community, my friends, and every soul who’s shared in our story of struggle and resilience—your love and support have been my sanctuary. Your presence has been a reminder that even in our darkest moments, we are never truly alone.

To those still in the silence of their battles, my message is this: There is hope. There is a way forward through advocacy, through solidarity, and through the collective power of our stories.

We can confront the systemic failures that have left too many behind. We can build a future where healing and happiness are not just possibilities but promises kept.

January 2024 – I found peace in farming

As I look ahead, I do so with gratitude for every lesson learned, every challenge faced, and every moment of support given and received. My journey of healing is intertwined with the mission to ensure no one has to walk this path alone. It’s a pledge to find joy, to embrace peace, and to heal—not just for myself but for all who have borne the weight of wars seen and unseen.

Here’s to healing, to hope, and to the unwavering belief that together, we will all find peace and transcend the shadows of the past.