Posted: Saturday, April 7, 2012 4:26 pm
On March 24, Staff Sgt. Matthew Mobley accompanied his father Mike for the first five miles of his trek across the country.The army sergeant’s father is walking to raise awareness about the United States military and military families everywhere. “He always feels like he needs to do more for us, and this is a good thing for him to do,” Mobley said of his father. “It keeps him active, keeps his mind off of my brother being overseas. It keeps his mind off of me going overseas soon. And it’s for a good cause.”
Mobley, who re-upped with the Colorado National Guard after serving two deployments with the Army, is expected to deploy to Afghanistan sometime in early 2013. His twin brother, Ryan, meanwhile, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, is on his fourth deployment.
Enlisting right after graduation from Highlands Ranch High School in 2004, the brothers have both experienced traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.
“It’s a change when it happens to you,” explained Matthew, “but once you get used to it, it feels like nothing has changed at all. We are so used to it now that when people throw around ‘TBI’ and ‘PTSD’ tags to us, we know we have it but we don’t realize it. There’s a definite adjustment period the first year, though.
“The biggest shocker is when you get back to the United States. When you are overseas you are in a mode that you have the biggest responsibility, especially when it comes to taking other human being’s lives. And immediately that switch needs to shut off when you get back here. But you can’t shut it off, you are still hyper-vigilant, you’re still watching everywhere. I still do it now, but I’m so used to it that other people realize it, I just don’t.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, upward of 20 percent of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have been diagnosed with PTSD. Other studies show numbers as high as 30 percent.
The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event. According to the clinic, symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts. With time and proper treatment the symptoms typically subside.
Being apart brings twins closerBoth Ryan and Matthew Mobley were injured within two months of each other in early 2007. However, despite being stationed just 60 miles apart, the two had zero communication with one another until their deployments ended and they had returned home for Christmas.
“I actually didn’t talk to him the entire deployment, through email, nothing. I never heard a word,” Matthew said of his brother. “When Christmas arrived, it had been a while since we had seen each other, we got to share stories back and forth, we got to have a real fun rivalry. Twins are already real big rivals with each other, but then you’ve got a Marine and an Army guy, it makes it bigger.”
Sibling rivalry aside, the bond between the two is an untouchable one, said Matthew, who is currently studying geology at Metro State.
“When you grow up and you have a twin brother that’s all you know, but once you get separated, you realize what you really have,” Matthew said. “I realized I had a really good relationship with my brother and then it became stronger because we were both infantry, we were both in Iraq at the same time, we both went through the same thing. You’ll hear old vets talk about it all the time, they don’t really relate to anybody else but other vets. It’s kind of the same way.”
Ryan Mobley will return from his deployment sometime toward the end of June to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His father expects to be there when he arrives.
Editor’s Note: This is the second story in a series on military awareness that was inspired by Operation Hero Trek.
Leaving Colorado behind
Crossing the border into Kansas on April 5, Mike Mobley posted the following message on the Operation Hero Trek Facebook wall:
“I am finally one time zone closer! News and current events have been dodging me of late. Amazing how much we depend on TV and the Internet for our information. Technology has truly shrunk the world. Let me tell you though, out here in the plains of the west, time travels a wee bit more slowly. The towns are smaller but honestly friendlier, and more dependent on each other. Not much in the way of commercialism out here either and I find it refreshing. Most places are small businesses and family-owned which is also good! Heartland of America!
“I can also say that the kind folks in these parts have a true sense of affection and pride in our military!”
Mobley hunkered down in Dodge City, Kan., for Easter weekend. To keep up with his journey, visit www.operationherotrek.com or follow him on Facebook.
© Copyright 2012, Our Colorado News, Englewood, CO.