A salute to the military wife of a wounded veteran

I found this post in the forums section of Military.com and of course it made me think of Erin…and my mother who spent 20 years as a military wife:

A Salute to the Military Wife

This is for the sad military wives, the angry military wives, and the strong military wives.

This is for the young women that are waking up at 6 a.m. every morning, laying out clothes and packing three lunches for those small precious children that they have been left alone to care for.

This is for the pregnant military wife wondering if her husband will make it home in time to watch their *miracle* happen.

This is for the childless military wife, living in a town or on a base alone where she is a complete stranger to her surroundings.

This is for the women that feel like a third leg when they go out with their friends and their husbands.

This is for the military wife that canceled all her plans to wait by the phone, and even though the phone broke up and cut off every time you spoke to him you waited anyway.

This is a pledge to the women that cry themselves to sleep in an empty bed.

This is to recognize the woman that felt like she was dying inside when he said he had to go, but smiled for him anyway.

This is for those of you that are faithfully in that long line at the post office once a month, handling 2 large boxes and 2 small children like a pro.

This is for that woman that decided to remodel the house to pass time, and then realized that she had no idea what she was doing and sighed and wished she had a little help.

This is for all the lonely nights, all the one-person dinners, and all of the wondering thoughts because you haven’t heard from him in days.

A toast to you for falling apart, and putting yourselves back together. Because a pay check isn’t enough, a body pillow in your bed is no consolation, and a web cam can never compare.

This is for all of you no matter how easy or hard this was for you. Our marines/soldiers/airmen/sailors/coasties are brave, they are heroes, but so are we.

So the next time someone tells you that they would never marry a military guy, don’t bother explaining to them that you can’t control who you fall in love with. Just think of this and nod your head, know that you are the stronger woman.

Hold your heads up high, hang that flag in your front yard, stick 100 magnets on your car, and then give yourself a pat on the back.

If you are a military spouse or know a military spouse,
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SACRIFICE’S

Sam and Erin holding hands_Palo Alto VA_2_24_08Erin has met quite a few of our troops at the VA Polytrauma Center in Palo Alto from all branches of the service…some with mid TBI and some with more serious injuries (severe TBI, spinal cord injury, loss of limbs, PTSD, etc.). All of these young men look up to Erin for the dedication and love she has for Sam.

The sad truth of the matter, is that many of these young men have marriages that are falling apart. It is an ongoing theme with these injured troops at the VA hospital—they marry young, get severely wounded, and their young wives see the changes that have occurred with their husband and don’t want any part of it. One young wounded soldier with mild TBI told Erin, “She called me up and wanted to get a divorce because she said I’ve changed!”. That is true—he’s been to hell and back and he’s dealing not only with his wounds, but the trauma of war.

I can’t image what these young men are going through—not only are they dealing with life altering injuries, they are having to deal with the emotional trauma of losing their spouse now that they are “damaged goods”.

So, here is my tribute to my daughter with inspiration from the above dedication to the military wife:

This is for the military wife of a wounded troop who, when she receives “the call” rushes to her husbands side to be with him, to comfort him, to nurse him back to health with her love.

This is to the military wife of a wounded troop, who when the doctors tell her, “there is no hope”, disregards their words, tears up the DNR form, and loves him back to health.

This is for the military wife of a wounded troop who is dealing with traumatic brain injury, who may not hear the words, “I love you”, but can look into her husbands eyes, and know without a doubt, that he loves her and is eternally grateful that she is sticking by his side.

This is for the military wife of a wounded troop, who is at her man’s bedside 12-14 hours a day encouraging him, kissing him, massaging him, praying for him—who knows that whatever God’s plan is for him, she will be right by his side holding his hand on their journey together.

Sam’s medical status: This was a very special weekend for me as I had the privilege of spending both Saturday and Sunday with Sam and Erin.

This was supposed to be the weekend that Sam was moved to Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital, but he is having some liver issues. The projected date for his transfer is now the week of March 5th. I don’t believe there is any serious issues with his liver—they just want to make sure there are no complications before moving him. Erin is happy they have two more weeks at the Palo Alto VA hospital, and the nurses and physical therapist also seem to be very happy they have two more weeks with Sam and Erin.

Erin has been doing some short term memory work with Sam. At the beginning of last week, she told him to remember the number four. At various times during each day of the week, she kept asking him, “what is the number I asked you to remember?” and unless he was very tired, he held up four fingers. His responses are very promising since short term memory loss can be an issue with TBI. I also notice that Erin occasionally ask Sam about other events that occurred in the past, like trips they have taken or restaurants they have gone to when they lived in Oceanside—Sam has responded well to these questions also.

Chest Therapy_Palo Alto_2_25_08The picture to the right is the “Chest Therapy” that Sam has been receiving a couple of times a day. The device has an air pump and regulator, plus the wrap-around bag that is around Sam’s chest. Air is pumped in and out of the bag and sort of shakes Sam’s chest. This device is used to keep fluids from building up in Sam’s chest. An interesting side affect to the use of this device, is that it helps push air out of Sam’s lungs and in doing so, helps him to get out a few words. In the picture, Erin is coaching Sam and saying “I love you” and I could hear Sam repeating back the words to her. There weren’t very loud, but I could tell he was saying “I love you back to her”!

kevin mowl_RIP_2_25_2008 Kevin Mowl RIP:  Very sad news from the mother of a soldier who was hit by an IED in Iraq on August 2nd of 2007.  Sam was in the ICU at Bethesda NNMC the same time Kevin was brought in from Iraq.  Kevin was with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.  I’ve been getting updates from his mother Mary’s journal over the last 6 months.  This is her update from this morning:

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2008 01:18 PM, CST

I want to let you all know that Kevin passed away peacefully today at 10:13AM. Mary, Carlene and I were with him until his end. More information will be forthcoming.

If you would like to offer your condolences, you can leave a note at the following location:  kevin mowl.  I believe you will have to create an account to leave a message.  His mother’s name is Mary.  Here is my note to Mary:

Mary, I’ve been following your blog since my daughter, Erin met you in Bethesda in August of 2007. Her husband, Sam Nichols, USMC was in the ICU the same time Kevin was there.

There aren’t many young men like Kevin and Sam. They wrote a blank check to our country with their lives and now Kevin has paid the ultimate sacrifice. He is now part of the proud history of our military heroes who have gone before him and will unfortunately follow. He is a part of what has made the United States of American the greatest country on earth. I never met Kevin, but I mourn his passing.

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8 Responses to A salute to the military wife of a wounded veteran

  1. CHERYL JAMES says:

    I THINK THAT SAM AND ERIN’S STORY TOUCHES ME SO, BECAUSE IT REMINDS ME OF “THE NOTEBOOK”, ONLY THEIR STORY WOULD BE THE MILITARY VERSION OF THIS LOVE STORY! I AM A SUCKER FOR A GOOD LOVE STORY! I WOULD LOVE TO SIT HERE AND “COMMENT” ON THE WIVES WHO CAN’T “HANDLE” THEIR WOUNDED WARRIORS, BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT I HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT FEELS OR WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH. I DON’T THINK THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN JUDGE UPON UNLESS YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH IT YOURSELF. I DEEPLY FEEL THAT IF I WAS IN THEIR SITUATION I WOULD BE A “ERIN” ROLLING UP MY SLEEVES AND PLAYING A ACTIVE ROLL IN HIS THERAPY. I BELIEVE I WOULD RESEARCH BOOKS AND THE INTERNET AND DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO HELP MY SOLIDER, BUT AGAIN, I HAVEN’T BEEN THROUGH THEIR SITUATION. I THINK ABOUT ERIN ALL THE TIME AND HOW SHE IS GETTING THROUGH. I DON’T THINK ABOUT JUST SAM’S WOUNDS, BUT ABOUT PAYING BILLS, WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE, GETTING ALL THAT MUNDANE, DAY TO DAY STUFF DONE. I THINK ABOUT MY 6 YEAR OLD AND 2 AND A HALF YEAR OLD AND WONDER HOW WOULD I EVER MANAGE HELPING A WOUNDED HUSBAND AND TAKING CARE OF MY KIDS AT THE SAME TIME. I KNOW WHEN YOU GET TO A MOUNTAIN THE ONLY WAY TO CLIMB IT IS ONE STEP AT A TIME, BUT JUST THINKING ABOUT ALL THAT SEEMS OVERWHELMING. LIKE I SAID, I KNOW IN MY HEART I WOULD BE A “ERIN”, BUT OTHER WOMEN ARE JUST NOT PROGRAMMED WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS TO HANDLE THAT JOB.

  2. Aunt Tammy says:

    Erin comes from good stock. When Tony, our sister Joy and myself were little our dad (Erin’s grandfather) was going back and forth to Vietnam. Our mother spent many long days without her husband caring for us alone in strange countries or in towns states way from her family. She was one of the strongest women I know. Erin definally reminds me of her. Just like Erin, she never complained and she always saw the good side of life. We can all learn from the examples these two women have set.

  3. Aunt Joy says:

    I appreciate all that Erin is doing for Sam. I see to many young wives fall apart when their husbands are deployed. You’ve got to be strong and you’ve got to have faith. Erin is such a w onderful example for these young women to follow. I wish I could bottle her strength up and give it to them. I love you Erin and I’m so proud of you. Love to Sam too, I know he’s just a short time away from a full recovery.

  4. Erin Nichols says:

    I had a dream yesterday morning that Sam and I were spending our first night together outside of a hospital. He was all better, but we were staying in a small tent in the above mentioned grandparents’ backyard. What was really weird is that we didn’t have sleeping bags; instead, we were trying to lay out enough blankets to pad the ground enough to be comfortable.
    Maybe the tent represents our current nomadic and uncertain lifestyle, but we have the comfort and support of loving family and friends. Above all we have the love and comfort of God. By Jesus’ stripes SAM IS HEALED. Parise God.

  5. Bernadine says:

    “These two people will teach us how to love each other” I repeat the quote Tony shared about what Morey said at their wedding. I remember that day as if it was yesterday, watching them look into each others eyes with a love that was so deep and so real. They were so young yet they shared a love that bonded them forever, that gave them strength and hope for a wonderful life together. And then reading today about what military wives can and do go through brought tears to my eyes. But I always remember when Erin moved down to Southern Calif. or lived on her own when he was gone, she did so with such grace and acceptance. Once again she shows us all their love and strength.

    I was lucky to visit Sam a week ago. The last visit was back in September, so I was very excited to see the HUGE steps he has taken to recovery. He lifted his arm to wave to me, and Erin told him, “Bern is here” And I was so happy to see he looked buff again, and strong! I asked him excitedly if he knew who I was, and he held up one finger (which means yes!) and I leaned over and hugged this big beautiful man and I felt his hug back and tears welled up in my eyes. I watched as she spoke to him and how he responded……..and once again they taught me how Love can move mountains and Faith will continue to make them strong.

  6. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    What a beautiful and touching tribute Tony, your words always have a way of making my eyes sweat. Erin I also saw your post about the dream that you had; you WILL have that first night together outside of the hospital – and Sam WILL be all better – and yes yes yes “by Jesus’ stripes – SAM IS HEALED!!”. AMEN. You’re getting there Sam, yes you are! The vision I had of you trying to tell Erin that you loved her just makes me feel so warm and happy.

    Hope that the liver issues are a thing of the past and that the move will happen this week – and that it will go smoothly. I’m sure everyone at the VA will be sad to see you go! But your leaving is a sign that Sam is progressing – a sign of greater things to come – a sign that Sam is healing. God bless you Sam, Erin and Family. God bless you all and continue to bestow all of the strength, comfort and peace that you need so much every single day. Big, giant hugs to you all. Praise God!!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  7. Talantang Youth says:

    Nothing is imposible in Jesus name…Holy is The Lord

  8. Thank you so much for applying time in order to post “A salute to the military wife of a wounded veteran Sgt.
    Samuel Nichols, USMC”. Thanks a ton once more ,Laurie

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