My Different Kind of Better

military family mental health 2014USC’s Military Family Mental Health Campaign

By: Shawn J. Gourley

I’ve already been the military spouse. But now I’m a new kind of spouse; I’m the spouse of a veteran with PTSD. Being a new kind of spouse means I have to change a lot of things in my life, but mostly it means that I have to change my expectations about what “better” looks like.

I swear people think because they came home from war alive, life should go on as normal. But it doesn’t. In reality my war has just begun. I had no training, and no one told me what this would entail. Being the wife of a wounded warrior makes life anything but normal. All of the sudden we deal with nightmares,  flashbacks, not being able to be  in large crowds, always being on alert, anger, and aggression because  our warrior’s brain has been changed. It has been changed due to injury, not because they went crazy. They return to us a different person than the one we sent away. Outsiders don’t understand, and many will tell us to leave. We hear things like, “You don’t deserve to be treated like that!” or “You just need to leave and better your life.”  We know it’s because they don’t understand, but most don’t care either. I could’ve taken that advice and left at any point in time, but what would that say about who I am? I’m not a quitter; it’s not in my genes. The warfighter mentality has rubbed off on me.


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