Counseling A Friend Of A Fallen Hero

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John was my high school sweetheart. Even before we started dating, he told me how much he wanted to join the army as soon as he met the age limit. He came from a family of soldiers, you see, so he had a strong sense of duty. In truth, all his three brothers were already deployed in various parts of the world at the time.

Although we had a similar family background, John’s desire to become a soldier initially made me want to stay away from him. My father died in Iraq in the line of duty when I was young, you see. I fear that it would happen to John in the future and leave me as a young widow. However, John eventually got me to say yes when he took the traditional route and visited me at the house often so that my mother knew that his intentions were pure.

Becoming Young Adults

John and I had a blissful summer together after our high school graduation. At that point in our relationship, we were very much in love with each other. We knew that we were meant to grow old and have grandbabies together. John continued to show his seriousness to my family even when we started dating, so they loved him, too.

Once the news about the enlistment spread, I was with John as he waited to send his application. He honestly did not need moral support; he burst with excitement because it had been his lifelong dream to join the army. I was mainly there because I was more nervous than him. It was silly of me to think so, but I felt as if the military would deploy John as soon as they got his application, so I had to be there to say goodbye to him.

Of course, that did not happen since John had to go through basic training first. He could have done it at once, but being the devoted boyfriend that he was, John decided to start training right after driving me to the university and helping me unpack at my new apartment. He even stayed for the night, and we spent most of it cuddling because only God knew when it could happen again.

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Despite that, neither of us cried when John was about to leave the next day. We had talked about that moment repeatedly in the past, and he would always joke that I should save my tears for his funeral. I would swat him all the time and knock on wood, and we would always share a laugh. So, when the time finally came for his basic training, I made sure to hold back my tears and told John how proud I was of him.

Doing The Long Distance Thing

John got deployed to the Middle East as soon as his training ended. It was a two-year contract, and I would be lying if I said I did not feel scared for him. After all, that’s where my father passed away. I prayed every day for John’s safety.

On his part, John tried to ease my worries by calling me as often as possible. I would hear his fellow soldiers joking about him being whipped, but he bantered with them well and practically did not mind being called as such.

When two years ended, and it was time for John to come home, I was so sad that I could not pick him up at the airport. I had a major exam for my psychology subject, and the professor did not allow me to skip it. While I longed to see John, I had been busting my ass in the last two years in university because I wanted to become a psychologist/counselor. That exam could make or break my future career, so I had no choice but to stay put. John promised to visit me on the same weekend after spending a few days with his family, so I just told myself to be patient.

Right before the exam, I received a call from John that his plane already landed. I wanted to weep, but I composed myself. I was about to go on a three-hour test, and I was hell-bent on acing it. Once the clock started, I became so engrossed with it that I did not notice John’s arrival. Thus, you could imagine how shocked I was when I stepped out of the classroom and saw him in the middle of the hallway, holding an open jewelry box, smiling at me.

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Life After Marriage

As you might have guessed, John proposed to me that day. We could have gotten married around that time, but we decided to do it once his second deployment ended so that we could go on a month-long honeymoon.

John considered getting deployed locally so that he could take me with him, and we could build a life together. His desire to do so strengthened when I got pregnant a few years later. However, there was an ongoing war in the Middle East, and they needed the best snipers there, and John was one of them, so he had to go back there.

In reality, I understood John’s decision to go overseas. It was dangerous, but he was only fulfilling his duty. I merely busied myself with fixing the nursery and opening my mental health clinic downtown.

Counseling My Husband

Our baby was almost one year old when John managed to return home. I could not help but cry when tears flowed down his cheeks as he hugged us tightly and almost did not want to let go even during the two-hour drive home.

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Once the baby was asleep, I finally understood why John acted that way. Aside from missing us terribly, the death of one of his close friends in the military hit him hard. John felt sad that his friend would no longer be able to hug his family as he did.

I would have been an awful psychologist if I did not see the signs of PTSD in my husband early. We talked about everything he witnessed in the Middle East for hours until we were both too tired to talk. While having breakfast, John told me that he considered getting counseling to overcome his issues. I agreed to do it immediately, grateful for the fact that he was willing to take that extra step to feel better.

I could have offered counseling at home, but John wanted to do it at my clinic. He booked an appointment and everything, saying that it was also his chance to see me in action. After a few sessions, John made a big decision and told me that he would retire from the army.

“I would always take pride in the years I spent in the military, but I don’t want you to see me in a casket anytime soon. I have taken business classes during my deployment anyway; I can open a restaurant next to your clinic,” John said.

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