JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
Many times, when talking about a warrior’s recovery journey, discussions often include physical therapy and how to get assistance through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. They also learn about resiliency tools to help cope and become successful in their new "normal."
What about their family? Their spouse and children all have a new normal as well, so how does everyone get on the same page to cope, adapt and survive together?
“We all went through stages. At the beginning we were worried not knowing if he would live. If he did live, what would life look like then,” said Ashley Hibbetts, Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program Caregiver and Ambassador. “For a period, our lives revolved around the injury and recovery, where that is all we talked about. Then there was a time of adjusting to things being a little different.”
Ashley’s husband, Jason, had a dissected artery that caused a stroke. This left him with damage to his brain, his eyesight and damage to the right side of his body. This abrupt medical emergency caused different emotions and actions for everyone in their family, including their two young children.
“Our three-year-old was distracted by grandparents but she knew something wasn’t right and was very clingy to my parents and myself when I wasn’t at the hospital,” Ashley said. “Our older son cried and at times was angry when he normally wouldn’t be. While I was so focused on therapy and recovery, after Jason got home, the kids were quick to just simply love.”
Kids seem to be more resilient and accepting of change, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t hard on them. It takes time, routines and extra love from parents and family to help young minds understand their new normal.
“Overcoming something takes time, it takes one day at a time. Over time I saw my kids get used to the changes. Our lives won’t ever be the same, but we sure are going to find the good in the changes,” Ashley said.
Although Jason is unable to do some things other parents can, the family still cherishes every moment they have with him. Family strength can be built anywhere at any time.
“My husband rides to school with us every morning and our kids see it as them being spoiled and just love spending the time with him,” Ashley said. “On family game night, Monopoly may require too much mental stimulation, but I know he can play Uno, everyone has fun and it’s a normal family night.”
An injury, wound or illness has the capability to tear people and families apart, but when the family is strong…it brings them closer together. Surviving a new normal just requires some talking, motivation, drive and strength of a family.
“We talk and hug. We apologize when needed, parents included. We make time to spend together and have fun, and we go to church and pray together,” Ashley said. “I tell the kids we stick together because that’s what family does, and we call ourselves “Team Hibbetts.”