The beginning of January 2007 was difficult. Besides missing Sean and trying to settle back into a routine, our unit was having a formal welcome home ceremony.
As assistant leader of the FRG I had many responsibilities to fullfill for this event. I was not a willing participant, despite my best efforts to be happy for the others. I was extremely jealous that these soldiers and families had been reunited 2 1/2 months prior and I had very recently gone through another separation from my husband. I resented that I was planning and facilitating a celebration that would have meant so much to my husband and yet he would not be able to attend.
The day included a Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen award ceremony followed by a Christmas party and dinner. It was a 14 hour day from start to finish, and when it was over I was a train wreck.
The high point of the day was meeting with Tonya Peterson, Senator Johnson’s aide, when she came to speak on his behalf. It was great to meet her and thank her in person for all her hard work. (Senator Johnson suffered a brain hemorrhage the day after we met with him in Washington D.C.) I cannot express my gratitude enough for this amazing woman.
Also on hand to welcome the soldiers home was Senator John Thune. Senator Thune’s office had also been making inquiries into Sean’s care. He took the time to speak with me about the progress and our recent trip to Walter Reed. Arrangements were put in motion for Senator Thune to meet with Sean when he returned to D.C. for his treatment at WRAMC.
Both Senator Johnson and Senator Thune were well-informed about our case and concerns. Both expressed outrage at the shoddy treatment Sean had been given. Both assured us that we would not be forgotten, and that they would support us in any way possible. I was impressed with both men, not as Senators or politicians, but as men. I appreciated the way they listened and were sincere in their conversations and actions. Thank you!!
The day was long and difficult. I tried to put on a smile and brave face, but inside I was aching and bitter. When people asked about Sean, it was hard to keep from tearing up. I wanted to talk about him. I wanted to tell everyone what was going on. I wanted to scream, “Doesn’t anybody notice that my husband is not here?!” I felt so out of place sitting with my friends next to all their husbands. I called Sean several times on the verge of a breakdown. But somehow, I made it through.
The rest of January was a holding pattern. Sean’s condition neither worsened, or improved. The staff on base mostly left him alone. The days dragged on with no further visits scheduled.