This soldier was ready to begin a new chapter in his life. He was retiring from the Army after over 20 years of service, starting a new career, and getting married to the love of his life. Then tragedy struck. But it didn’t end there.
Carter was planning his retirement from the Army. Twenty-five years of service to our great country. He served as a Special Forces Officer and was planning his next career as a government consultant. He had served his country in both peace and war, and was ready to settle down and start the next phase of his life. We had been living together, and even before he proposed, he introduced me as his fiancé.
On August 17, 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. On August 19, just 48 hours after the crushing news, Carter knelt down on one knee to propose. Two weeks later, Carter went on terminal leave from the Army. Instead of taking a few months off to hike the Appalachian Trail or be carefree until his new job began in January, he spent the next four months at home helping me battle cancer.
For me, battling cancer was tough. But I could wake up every day and fight. I was active in my battle. For Carter, he was no longer the soldier in the thick of the fight. He was a helpless bystander, watching his loved one suffer. He held me while I cried myself to sleep because I was in so much pain. He made me laugh when I needed it the most. We didn’t have the experience of being that lovey-dovey engaged couple, but we did learn more about each other in those seven months, and the grit that we both possessed.
Cancer became the “new normal” in our family and we learned to live life as it was. Carter started his new job that January. My treatment ended on March 21, 2011. We married on March 31, 10 days later. I was sick and bald on our wedding day.
Two months later, Carter deployed to Afghanistan as a contractor. The time between wasn’t filled with a honeymoon and newlywed bliss. The time between was spent recovering from cancer, and getting all of the newly married spousal paperwork in order for his deployment.
While Carter was still in Afghanistan, I put an offer down on our dream home and somehow managed to coordinate that final Army move with him 6,000 miles away. He returned to a wife who’s hair looked like Greg Brady (it was finally growing out!) and boxes all over our little townhouse. We moved a few weeks later and settled down into our new life in our new home. Together. With the worst behind us.
Victories for Veterans
Every day, our service men and women face challenges. Whether it’s returning home from war with a disability, or transitioning back to “normal” life, the lives of our military members and their families are anything but normal. Add the challenges of daily life on top of the challenges these unique Americans face and that is why our military and their families are my heroes. They endure more. They sacrifice more. They step up to the plate to answer the call of duty.
DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is a nonprofit organization that is on a mission to support more victories for veterans by connecting them to the health, financial, and disability benefits they were promised. Each year, they help more than one million veterans of all generations in life-changing ways. To learn more about DAV, visit dav.org.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of DAV. The opinions and text are all mine. While I am proud to support DAV and their mission, I have not been a beneficiary of DAV services.
Love, hugs, and honoring our military, one victory at a time.