Amputee Is 'Used Goods?'

Ask Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband cannot seem to get his bearings since he redeployed from Afghanistan. He was wounded in an IED explosion and now he is an amputee. He lost one of his legs and has some injuries to both arms and scarring all over his body. He feels like he is used goods, yesterday’s leftovers.

I can totally understand how he feels. His battle buddies forgot about him. He has had numerous surgeries trying to restore his skin and the functioning in his hands and arms. Trying to get the right prosthetic for his leg was a nightmare. It’s like no one cares anymore.

My husband is a person who has been tossed aside because he is not useful to his country any longer. But when he was capable of serving 24/7, he was important.

Ms. Vicki, I know you get a lot of letters. Surely, we are not the only couple who feels this way. I want to help my husband but I feel lost too.

Sincerely,
Soldier and Wife Both Dumped By Their Country

Dear Soldier’s Wife,

I know this is a very difficult time for you and your husband. No one is to blame in this situation. It’s not your husband’s fault and it’s not yours either.

Your feelings are very normal given the situation. You have been stressed, overwhelmed and you are even grieving many losses: losing your husband’s previous level of functioning, his military career, the confidence and zest for life that you both previously had before his injuries.

Clients often say to me, “Ms. Vicki, why did this happen to me” or “I didn’t deserve this.” Your husband didn’t deserve this and you didn’t either. Life often calls us to confront difficult situations that we did not ask for. With that said, I’m on your side. 

Quickly, it sounds like your husband is being taken care of medically. However, I think it’s important for you both to connect to others who have experienced the same thing and overcoming the challenges. You must reach out to others for support: family, friends, spiritual support and other veterans who are coping with injuries. 

Cheryl Ganser, Operation Homefront’s Wounded Warrior Wives Program Coordinator agrees. "The best way to overcome loneliness it to speak with others who know what you are going through,” said Cheryl. “Most caregivers of wounded warriors have felt and been through similar things as you while going through rehabilitation. It is hard to not feel left in the dust by his unit and your friends.”  

Cheryl found her best support through Operation Homefront. “One of the things that helped me the most when my soldier was injured was to join an online support group and later attend a caregiver's retreat.”  It is easy to sign up with them. Simply go to www.woundedwarriorwives.org and click “sign in/register” and sign up there.

I would also recommend therapy for you and your husband as a couple and even individually. Check with your Tricare benefits for services.

Here are some websites I think you should take a look at. They offer educational information, resources, support and ways to connect with others. Some have a 24/7 phone support.

** Defense Centers of Excellence: www.dcoe.health.mil
** The Wounded Warrior Project: www.woundedwarriorproject.org
** Tricare Mental Health: 877-874-2273

It’s important that you take care of yourself and for you and your husband to find other ways to bond together. I know it’s hard, but he defines himself based on his injuries and you are doing the same. Your husband is not washed up goods. He is still a man, a great man!

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, is married to an active-duty Soldier and has three sons. She has a Master's of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently works as a therapist with military servicemembers and their families. She provides services for a wide array of concerns such as combat stress, PTSD, couples and marital problems, depression, grief and loss, stress and coping.

Ms. Vicki also writes an advice column "Dear Ms. Vicki" that appears in the Washington Times, the Fort Campbell Courier and the Heidelberg Herald Post. Ms. Vicki also hosts an internet radio show and blogs on her community site with the Washington Times. If you want to ask Ms. Vicki for advice about your military life, please email her at AskMsVicki@military-inc.com.

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