ALASKA — Retired Army Sgt. Edgar Aguilar’s PTSD was destroying his marriage to Edith who was emotionally spent. But when they attended Operation Heal Our Patriots at Samaritan Lodge Alaska, God brought restoration and healing to their lives and to their marriage.
When you get married to a soldier, especially when you’re young, you really don’t know what you’re getting into. There’s a honeymoon period, and then it’s– the bomb explodes.
A lot of times, veterans get married young in life. One of them goes off to combat and comes back very different. That’s hard for sometimes a spouse to understand.
Franklin Graham, President and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse:
You’ve got the warrior, but behind the warrior is a family. And so we think it’s really important that we try to support the military family.
John Pryor, Samaritan’s Purse:
The goal of Operation Heal Our Patriots is to revitalize marriages through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Shawna Duvall, Samaritan’s Purse:
We know that He is the one that can bring lasting change and hope and renewal. He is the “heal” in Operation Heal Our Patriots.
Luis Anda, Samaritan’s Purse:
And it’s all of us uniting around these men and women and saying, “We love you. We support you. We’ve been there.”
Operation Heal Our Patriots is committed to these veterans for life. We have reunions. We do Fortify Your Marriage retreats, and it just starts right here in Alaska.
It’s amazing how God brought all these couples here, and how we are so similar in the struggles and going, “OK. So we’re not alone.”
Russel Gaskins, Sergeant, U.S. Army, Ret.:
As I was learning what PTSD is, – why am I different? Why am I having nightmares? Why am I reacting this way? – She’s also now learning the same thing, and it kind of helps us come together.
Edgar Aguilar, Former Sergeant, U.S. Army:
I did two deployments to Iraq. I had just turned 21 years old, and I deployed on a Saturday. So when I got back, I met my wife. We got married in December of that same year before I deployed again.
He wasn’t diagnosed with PTSD until after he got out of the military. Just like every other soldier, there’s wounds you can’t see. Everybody has problems. Every marriage has problems. But it could be something so small, and for him, it’s amplified maybe 10 times, 100 times, depending on the day.
I was emotionally done.
She would tell me about getting help, and I would always say, “We don’t need that. We don’t. I’m fine. No, no.” And deep down, we weren’t fine.
When we first got here, you just felt safe, welcomed. You felt loved. You felt wanted. I felt special.
He was talking about issues that he doesn’t talk to anybody about. That’s where it started. There were things that we were actually able to work through, issues that we’ve had for years.
We miss our daughter so much. I miss her every single day, but this was the best thing we could have done. This was the best thing we could have done– for us and for her– because she’s going to have parents that have learned how to help each other, how to communicate with each other. She’s going to get back better parents than what we were when we left.
This is a step we needed to take together. And we gave our heart to Christ, and we’re getting baptized. We’re doing it.
I know his heart. I know his heart, and we just needed this. We needed God to just maybe dust it off– dust it off and just say, “This is the person you fell in love with 16 years ago. This is still the person that puts you first. This is still the person that chooses you.” And it’s still the person that I choose.
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Operation Heal Our Patriots gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment. Couples participate in Biblically based seminars that help strengthen their relationships with God and others and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation with outdoor activities at our Alaskan wilderness lodge. We continue to support these men and women after their initial stay, keeping their spiritual needs and marriages a priority.
CONTACT: Kaitlyn Lahm, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Source: Global News Alliance, Military Couples Transformed in Alaska