Hope for the Home Front Joins Lash and Associates to Help Wives of Wounded Warriors with PTSD and TBI
By Carrie C. Causey, Wake Weekly NewsYoungsville
Marshele Waddell was thrilled to have her Navy SEAL husband home after several combat tours abroad. That is, until she found out the man who returned wasn’t the same man who left.
For more than 25 years, Waddell has stood faithfully by her husband’s side while he was in the military and continues now as he battles a new war – this time against post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
On March 27th, Waddell spoke at a luncheon at Lash and Associates Publishing and Training in Youngsville to discuss how her group Hope for the Home Front can work with brain injury and veteran’s organizations to help deal with the growing number of soldiers suffering from disorders and undiagnosed brain injuries upon their return.
“Women always say to me ‘Where’s my husband? They sent me back the wrong person,’” Waddell said. “It’s like they are there in body but not in spirit.”
Lash and Associates is a leading source of information on brain injury for children, adolescents, adults and veterans. For the past four months, Lash and Associates President Marilyn Lash has joined Waddell and others in traveling across the country to host weekend retreats for women who are struggling to deal with their wounded warriors.
“These are invisible injuries, but they become visible for all of the women,” said Waddell of PTSD and TBI. “Hope for the Home Front brings information for family members of returning veterans to inform and empower them for the greater likelihood of the family core staying together. But I stress over and over that every situation is unique and there is no cookie-cutter answer.”
The workshops prove to women that they aren’t alone.
“You see the condition when they arrive and their state of mind,” Waddell said. “They come isolated. But they leave learning 23,000 other wives – and not just wives, but mothers, sisters and children of the warriors – are going through the same thing.”
“These are women who feel exhausted, isolated, scared and unsure,” she added. “They’ve jumped through 100 hoops just to come to the retreat. Not just finding care for their children, but for their warrior too.”
Women, usually between ages 21-31, use the retreats to talk about changes they’ve seen in their husband and how to deal with them to make a healthier relationship for both of them.
In Waddell’s case, her husband wasn’t sleeping, suffered from insomnia and had nightmares when he did sleep; he was unpredictable, aggressive behind the wheel and in social situations.
In other cases, women must deal with their spouse’s domestic violence, anger problems, sexual intimacy issues and paranoia.
But, like the title of her book and workshops When War Comes Home Don’t Retreat, Waddell wasn’t going to leave her husband. “It was a commitment we made for better or for worse,” she said candidly. “I’d invested my life in our three teens and building a family and being there for all of us. So I decided to retreat is not good. I’m a Christian so I thought God had a purpose. There isn’t pain without purpose. I wrote about it and have gotten to speak around the country and be a voice.
“People are talking about it, but we don’t know how many others are not able to.”
With her expertise in brain injuries, Lash has become a new addition to the Hope for the Homefront team at the workshops to discuss the effects of brain injuries and how to deal with them as well as help children and others understand what’s going on.
“I’ve been in the brain injury community for 35 years and have never seen anything as complex as the combined effects of TBI and PTSD or been involved with something so meaningful,” Lash said.
By the end of the weekend, the women make goals to improve physically, mentally and spiritually.
At the lunch, Waddell and Lash were joined by representatives from the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina, NeuroCommunity Care, the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Brain Injury for North Carolina, the State Behavioral Health Programs, and the NC Division of Veterans Affairs.
After listening to Waddell’s story, the attendees discussed the issue and how they could work together to get involved.
“These are the key players in this room,” said Bob Cluett, CEO of Lash and Associates. “Our challenge is to have involvement from the key players and get together and do something.”
The weekend retreats are supported with funding by Operation Homefront