A Letter to Uncle Sam From the Hurting

Do you see me, Uncle Sam? I am the hurting. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8FR

Dear Uncle Sam,

Do you see me? I am the granddaughter of immigrants and the great-granddaughter of immigrants who came to this country for freedom to live the American Dream.  I am the daughter of a man who also served in the United States Armed Forces. I married a naval officer who fought for freedom.

Uncle Sam, did you see me home alone on September 11, 2001 as my husband rushed off to the base? Uncle Sam, were you at the Legal Office on base when I was signing a will and the power of attorney? Uncle Sam, were you aware of my bedtime ritual while my husband was off on some secret mission? Did you see me managed to work full-time and volunteer at the base? Did you see me use my leadership skills to try to cultivate a supportive climate in a spouses’ club with several members who were more interested in the secrets the service members kept and also wearing the service members’ stripes as if the rank belonged to spouses, too?

Do you see me, Uncle Sam? I am the hurting. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8FR

Uncle Sam, I carried my dependent card as a military family member. Why did you ignore me? Why did you allow my husband to come home and bring all the wounds of war to hurt me? Uncle Sam, you did nothing to help and you turned me away when I asked for help. You did not even warn me with the courtesy of an “Incoming!” so I could duck and cover.

Uncle Sam, you contributed to his addiction when you gave him speed for his missions and then Ambien to sleep.  Because he witnessed the horrors of war and was not properly treated upon his return home, he turned to more drugs. He even while on active duty went to off base doctors to get them. Uncle Sam, you did nothing to prevent it. I was the one who got him to go to Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed, but you, Uncle Sam, have staff that failed to do their job. You even allowed him to check out his medical record and never followed up when he refused to return it. Your system failed to have him complete his yearly physical and your system allowed his retirement without the completion of medical forms as well as the TAPS program.

All the while, Uncle Sam, you are proud of the soldiers who go elsewhere liberating Muslim countries while allowing soldiers to come home and abuse their families. Yes, Uncle Sam, you allow domestic violence.

I still kept coming to you for help. Did you see me at Bethesda Naval Hospital asking questions? Did you see me on the phone with a Vet Center social worker? Uncle Sam, what do you think happened to me after the Vet Center licensed clinical social worker diagnosed my husband with PTSD and addiction and he refused to get help. Uncle Sam, you refused to help my children and me.

Uncle Sam, are you proud that you sent soldiers to make the world a better place while I ended up in a domestic violence shelter with my children in a state with crooked attorneys and judges that force children to have unsupervised visitation with a drug addicted father and refuse to allow the move to family for support and healing? Uncle Sam, I lost my livelihood in the moves to serve you.  I lost my freedom upon the soldier’s return home.  Uncle Sam, do you see me? Are you proud of what you have done? Are you proud that you allowed the destruction of my family and I am left to wonder every Fourth of July what is the point of Independence Day when my independence is taken from me.

Oh, what sadness you bring to the souls of my ancestors who came to America for future generations to have a better life. None of them knew the dangers and tragedy of being a military spouse.

I wish you could see me, Uncle Sam. But you no longer recognize me. I no longer carry a dependent card and now I look nothing like the woman who served you. You allowed your soldier to abuse and you have supported his actions to take away freedom.


A Former Commanding Officer’s Wife


“Leka,” a former commanding officer’s wife, writes about her struggles at www.thecowtalks.com.

About the Author

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  • BestGuest

    When you marry a guy who has no aspirations outside of the military, your chances of picking a winner are slim. I’m sorry that you were the victim of abuse and disregard and I hope you find happiness.

    Perhaps more articles like this will shed some light on the realities of being married to a service member and prevent other women from doing the same. I hope you find someone who is well adjusted and contributes to society.

    • Kathryn Fox

      Sorry why should BestGuest be banned. He/she is actually speaking the truth. This letter is not about the service these guys do. That is as given. But sadly as military men they think they are above the law. That is one of the points of the letter. That Uncle Sam protected him. He sits secure under the military umbrella whilst she suffers as she no longer does and the military might has now turned on her. SHE also contributed to society and there are SO FEW that do. She is written off as collateral damage. This story is not about him, but her.

      • That person

        He should be banned because all he does, each and every day is berate service members. In this particular post he says women should not marry them and they aren’t contributing to society. The truth is spouses are not the only victims here. The entire family, including the service member is the victim here. Demonizing service members as losers, incapable of anything else who contribute nothing to society does NOT help this woman or any of the other thousands of women living our lives. But go ahead and delete this post too administrator. Because how dare the people actually living these lives speak.

        • BestGuest

          So because my experiences, views, and opinions differ from yours I should be banned? So much for freedom…

          And when have I ever berated, yelled at, or swore at anyone? Never. Also, I don’t agree with the service member, or any abuser, being labelled as and treated as a victim.

          • Amy_Bushatz

            Hey ThatPerson — the decision to remove your comment was made by our webmaster because it violated our commenting terms and rules. I actually didn’t see it so I have no idea what part it violated. But they dont remove things without cause.

            However, I will note that this is a private website owned by a private company — and the admins get to decide what stays and what goes .. as if you were talking in their house.

          • CRZ

            Questions can lead us into a never ending spiral, my plith is different than someone else’s. With that said, so will be the way I choose to take it on and assure “My Success”; which may or may not include my love ones and friends. ” Product of their environment” gas been used to establish “excuse for behavior” I say bull!…..

            Times of war, without a doubt changes a person, a lot has to do with the mental mind set before the see conflict. We are not a run and duck nation, are we?

    • Kathryn Fox

      I saw the one that was deleted. yes is was a basic ‘go away’. I don’t know if there is some history here on posts. But all I can comment on is the original post is still there so the Admin don’t find it offensive and I applaud you for leaving it there. To be honest if someone told me what marrying a military guy meant. I would have still carried through. But I tell you this had the military been honest with what I could expect when he returned from Afghanistan I might of stood a fighting chance to save our marriage and his relationship with his kids. 4 years later no sight or sound from him, whilst his chidren grown into beautiful adults.

  • Some Dude


    I am sorry WE as the family of our great Uncle Sam have let you down. This wasnt his burden alone and I feel we as a family bear this burden together.

    Thank you for bringing to light our own struggles within our community. Because Uncle Sam is imaginary. But we are real and so are the people who made the decisions and turned a blind eye as you pointed out. We can do better. And we will because you had the courage to confront U.S.

    Im sorry we the people let you down. I am sorry I let you down.

    • leka305

      Thank you for these words, Some Dude.

  • Kathryn Fox

    Military.com can I personally thank you from the bottom of my heart for hearing “Leka” and being brave enough to publish this. As a UK now ex-military wife I know exactly how she feels, so please take heart in that this is not just an ‘Uncle Sam’ letter but an International letter from a military wives around the world who are not being heard. We stand by our men until literally our lives our threatened if we stay any longer. Then when we take that heartbreaking decision to leave we are vilified, criticised event by other military wives for leaving a ‘hero’. All we wanted was help to continue to stand by his side and it wasn’t forthcoming. “Leka” is letting her voice be hear for 1000s of women across the world. OUR voices need to be heard so much, as families are being destroyed. But worst of all, no matter what has been taken from “Leka” or me, these heroes of ours are losing their sanity, their families, their future and their lives. All “Leka” can do is move on without him.

    ‘We lend the military our loved ones, when they are at their finest and their best. They accept them willingly.

    They take them and they break them.

    When they have no more use for them, they send them home broken.

    Only we can save them, but no one tells us how.

    Then we get broken too.”

    A Former UK 3rd Battalion The Rifles Wife

    • That person

      I’d like to point out a fallacy here. Because I care, because I too am fighting this raging war of PTSD in my home x 6 years now and have kept my family intact, though my sanity may be questionable. You quoted: “Only we can save them”. This is the fallacy and how so many families get torn apart and wives fall victim to secondary PTSD. You said “no one tells us how”. I will tell you. Listen carefully. You can NOT save him. He has to save himself. He does this by you setting hard boundaries and not enabling his self destructive behavior. A specialist in PTSD and trauma in families can help you, as the spouse, learn to set these boundaries. Trying to save him, will never work. That road leads only to caregiver burn out or secondary PTSD. When he no longer has you “saving” him, he will have to save himself. Then and only then, will he start getting “better”.

      • Kathryn Fox

        I realise your problem here. you have signed over your life to him. End off. Good luck. Do you know why I am no longer fighting this fight after 6years (like you). Because after 18months of fighting I realised I was worth more. i’m sorry you don’t. You are exactly the type of military wife that vilify women like “Leka”. it is a known symptom these guys push away their wives because they don’t deserve them, their DEAD friends don’t have that luxury. Only we can save them because only we remind them of the true them. They prefer to be monsters, deadbeats, cheaters etc etc. Anything other than saying ‘I need help’. You ‘That Person’ are simply that person who enables that behaviour. Good luck.

        • That person

          I am not vilifying her at all. I feel horrible for her. I was married 15 years before PTSD walked in the door. You’re right I stayed. My husband has actually been in behavioral therapy almost five years and is still active duty. I was actually echoing her point that military behavioral therapy does little but over medicate them. You have to get your own counseling from a trauma specialist so you can keep your family intact while not enabling them. And while I feel horrible for your pain, no you can not save him. He MUST save himself. I know my worth. I don’t enable anything, trust me. I wish you well.

  • That person

    I said nearly these very words sitting in yet another behavioral therapist’s office (my soldier’s Dr.) at yet another duty station: “I did everything I was supposed to do. I volunteered, I worked, I kept my house and kids and gave him to you. You sent him to war five times, each time he came back less of the man he was. I brought him to you, and all you do is shove medication into him and throw him back into rotation. Over and over you kick that can down the road. But it is ME who will be left with this empty shell of a human being when you finally have no more use for him. I have never felt so betrayed as an Army brat and wife as I do dealing with Army Behavioral Therapy.” My best advice for anyone is: eyes forward. Eventually these men of ours will retireget out and it will be on you to pull him through. So get strong. Get your own counseling, take care of your health, find your spiritual center whatever that means for you. Because when their battles end, ours are often just beginning. God Bless this author. It should not be so damn hard.

    • leka305

      That person I am sad that we have this in common. I wish you continued courage and strength as you man your battle station in the home. You are absolutely right that it is imperative that the spouse of the soldier/sailor get counseling, take care of health and find spiritual center. All three of these suggestions are imperative. You are right in saying that it should not be so damn hard. Yet, it is.

  • Somewife

    This is an amazing article,and true.
    The military destroyed my husband.
    He’s out and no one cares. All the VA wants to do is numb him with medications. There’s no support for spouses or,the children. It’s an ongoing war at home.

    • leka305

      Somewife, I care. Some day soon I hope there is support for spouses and children. We need it.

  • Ginger38

    Not trying to start trouble here, and I agree it does work for some, but not all. I too have interest in this article, as I am a Military spouse myself. I do agree, they have to be willing to help themselves, and willing to fix themselves, but setting hard boundaries, in my case, backfired. Hardcore. I never enabled him, or allowed him to do certain things. I treated him as my equal, as my partner, just the way any other spouse would do. He did not see me in the same light. People are people; they will do whatever they want, especially if it ticks someone else off. Long story short, a zebra cannot change his/her stripes. Setting ‘hard boundaries’ and loving them is not enough. Sadly for a lot of spouses in this situation, you become a casualty of someone else’s war.

    • That person

      I agree that boundaries and love are not enough. That is why I reiterated twice: the spouse has to get their own counseling. The type of boundary setting I am talking about is not setting ultimatums or aggressively drawing lines in the sand. These can be taught by a qualified trauma specialist. It includes things such as: deescalation techniques, self worth enhancement so you learn not to take everything personally no matter how self destructive they get, and efficacy encouragement so the spouse feels strong enough to handle what we all agree, is a really rough row to hoe. I have lived this life too, and the unspoken truth is our lives get so out of control chaotic because BOTH spouses need an action plan and treatment. Otherwise, we participate right along in the crazy with them, even when we think we are doing everything not to. This is my only point.

  • Guest

    I applaud the writer of this article. Uncle Sam must take better care of ALL military families, whether an illness is involved or not. This would include limiting deployments and PCSs. If that means a shorter “career,” that’s fine. I’m sure we would all — including the service members — rather have the rest of our lives to live intact and to enjoy each other’s company than to have lives and relationships end in turmoil and regret.

    • leka305

      Guest, thank you for your words. You made a good point about limiting deployments and PCSs. The moves especially put the family and military member at great risk. In a new duty station there is no one that can point out if the service member is “off” and there is such stress during a move that it is difficult to get help when it is needed due to learning a new base and getting settled. In the best of conditions a move puts the family in survival mode and adding the element of war coming home sets up the family for disaster.

  • Heather

    I am very fortunate that I am the wife of a RETIRED military chief who came home dented and not broken. My heart breaks for so many in heart-breaking decisions.
    The strength of will and courage it takes to walk away from a ‘hero’ and save oneself and children is bigger than I could ever imagine.

    With deepest gratitude for those who serve invisibly.

  • CRZ

    Dear Survivor, I am terribly sorry for all you and love ones went and are going through.
    I am in no way minimizing your situation. I do understand. I am a daughter of one of the first SF men that set the ground floor for who they are today.
    I am the wife, sister, aunt, mom of military service members. I understand your anger, pain, worries, regrets and so much more.

    I am very proud of all of my family members who have and are serving. I come from a time era when the military was different and have seen the changes.
    From my father, brothers, husband uncles, nieces, and with mixed feelings my son who served 4 tours in “The Sand Box”; I Dont recall Uncle Sam being there when all of the above and through our family line signed up to defend our country either.
    All my family knew, and accepted with so many feelings their choice to serve.

    With that said, the wars and conflicts of the past were more if not equal devistaing to our members, family and country.
    I agree, our veterans need to be taken care of and cherished, I am sure that at the time of conflict they weren’t deciding who to defend but what they are fighting for. Everyone has the right to freedom, some cultures are set in their ways and mind set that it will never change for them, but the reason America fights and volunteers is for freedom of each and every ibdividual.
    We may not always understand the why’s, or when’s but to understand the necessary and continual fight for our country and to support those oppressed is what this nation was built on.
    Should our anger be towards Uncle Sam for a volunteer to fight for what they believe in and swore to when they raised the right hand?
    Should we just ignore their reason for joining and now just set blame.
    For those who Dont understand the constant vigilance that we as a nation must have, may not have experienced a time of war before. It is never pretty and we as a country can never agree if we should have taken place.
    I, like a mom who protects her home and children with all that I am and belive, hope our country and citizens gave that same vigilance.
    Should our government give more, help more, do more for our service members and veterans/families yes without any hesitation, with this type of life style I am so familiar with, it has giving me the back bone to take life head on good or had. It has given me the ability to decide when one door closes for what I need, to bang on them all till someone answers.
    I truly wish you some sort of peace that helps you and yours through these tough times. You are in my prayers and I wish you much success and understanding.

  • AnnieO

    I have been living this roller coaster nightmare for 4 years. Thanks to the tremendous support of friends far and wide and weekly counseling for my spouse from the (phenomenal!!)!ocal Veteran’s Center (and occasionally for me, too), my husband is alive and our family is still a unit following a particularly difficult year. As for the actual military organization itself (in this case, the Reserves): they have ranged from useless to detrimental, ranging from Reserve Center leadership refusing to talk with me about my concerns for my husband’s health, to PHOP representatives that failed to follow up. Reserve leadership, who will never deploy, are treating my husband like he’s making all this up, despite all the supposed suicide prevention training they have undergone. For those who are still trying to serve: at what point is there DOD accountability for treating PTSD for what it is: a work-induced disability?