PTSD Disrupts Soldier's Comfortable Marriage

When Ben and Heidi married in 1994 and had a daughter, they accepted that Ben’s service in the military would take him away for months at a time. Both felt the stress on their relationship, but he always came home the same man Heidi had fallen in love with.  

“Ben used to always be this kind of happy-go-lucky, social guy. He was like the social butterfly. He didn't get angry easy,” said Heidi.

“We were happy. We loved each other,” said Ben.

But when Ben came home from Afghanistan in 2009, something had changed. While on patrol, Ben’s team was ambushed by insurgents.  During the 30 minute firefight, Sargent Michael Roy was hit in the head by a bullet while shooting from the back of their Humvee- -and killed.  Ben, the team’s medic, dragged the man’s body behind the Humvee, covering him until fighting stopped.

“There was nothing I could do for him. And that was –that was a hard pill to swallow. I had been on multiple deployments and I’ve seen people pass-but there was a bond because we were such a small team. That one hurt. That one really hurt,” said Ben.

This time he came home a very different man.  “I felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time. I could ask him a question and it wasn’t anything that would have upset the old Ben. He would just get angry and have something to say. Just snap. He was just so unhappy,” said Heidi.

Meanwhile, ben was quietly struggling with depression.  “My patience, my anger, was quick. For me, the scariest portion was the depression. I didn’t know how low I really was.”

The next few months were filled with highs and lows as Heidi tried to be understanding, but after a year, the outbursts and arguing only got worse.  “I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t love him anymore. And I was like, I’m done. We have been married for 14 years, but I’m not doing this anymore. ‘So you’ve got two options: Tomorrow when you go back to work, you either get help for yourself, and help for you and I, or it is over,” said Heidi.

“We’ve been in arguments and we’ve had our fights. We’ve had our rough times, but never to the point that it was, you know, I’m done. I was in a really, really dark place. Really bad place,” said Ben.

Ben agreed to meet with a counselor who diagnosed him with PTSD, and put him into a treatment program.  The couple also started marriage counseling.  They made a lot of progress over the next few years, but their relationship was still suffering. Then in 2013 they attended a Samaritans Purse ‘Operation Heal Our Patriots Conference’ where they realized what they had been missing was a relationship with Jesus Christ.  

“People talking about how they came to Jesus, you know... It’s not that I didn’t believe in Christ and I didn't believe that He was our Savior but the way they were talking about it was just, wow. I couldn’t get enough. I was hungry. I just couldn’t get enough of it,” said Ben.

“I just know I wanted life to be different. I just wanted to be different. It was Jesus that said it doesn’t make a difference what you did in this lifetime. That it is all washed away and you are my child. I wanted that,” said Heidi.

The couple began to attend church regularly and the next year, at the Operation Heal Our Patriots Reunion, they both surrendered their lives to Jesus. “To know that I could be forgiven, when we prayed and gave our life to Christ…I mean, I needed that –I needed that relationship because I am a sinner,” said Ben.

“When I finally said, ‘Yes God, I want that. It’s like this weight just …phew, just came off,” said Heidi.

The Herberts received mentoring by other Christian couples, and together started praying and studying the bible.  They learned to put Christ at the center of their hearts, and their marriage.

“Jesus makes you want to be a better person. Which means it makes you want to treat each other better,” said Heidi.

Ben and Heidi say their love for each other is stronger than ever…and it’s all because they learned to love each other as Christ loves them.

“Jesus gave my marriage hope that no matter trial we went through, that if we looked to our Savior, it was going to be fine. He also gave us a different perspective on how we need to see each other,” said Ben.

“We do a devotional and one of the things in it, is that if I’m His son, I need to remember that she is His daughter. I need to treat her as such,” said Ben.

“It’s so cool because you don’t stop growing, you don't stop learning. So it’s like we’re on this little adventure together now and we’re thinking, where is God going to take us next,” xaid Heidi.

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