New "normal": A caregiver's story

  • Published
  • By Donald Lykon
  • Air Force Wounded Warrior Program

When I met Janelle I had no clue what I was getting into. All I knew was something was special about her; she looked beautiful, happy and she seemed to have her life completely in order. 

I met Janelle at the gym. I was the spin instructor and she was one of the attendees. A mutual friend of ours introduced us. Our relationship started out as a friendship, but after a very short time, I knew she was the one that I've been waiting for all these years.

Once Janelle and I became more serious, I began to notice little things about her that I did not understand: A sudden change in mood during a small issue; periods of time when she would stare off into nowhere; moments when she would get frustrated and and she would begin to stutter; or times when she would disappear into a bedroom to cry. After some time passed, she finally explained to me why these things were happening to her. She told me that she had served in the Air Force and that she had done a tour in Iraq. She also told me that she had PTSD and a mild TBI. I had no idea what any of that meant. 

There was a night when I woke up to the sound of crying. Janelle was sitting up in bed, holding her knees into her chest, and crying in fear. This was the first time that I realized the effects of PTSD. At that moment, I knew I was going to have to learn more about PTSD and TBI's. After that night, I started asking Janelle more questions so that I could try and understand better.

     Eventually we were introduced to AFW2. My first experience was very interesting, to say the least. I was very skeptical and had no idea what to expect. In San Antonio, my classes were extensive, yet extremely informative. I walked into this program not knowing anything about PTSD, TBI, anxiety or depression. By the time I left, I knew how to recognize the symptoms and how to help Janelle with her PTSD/TBI. I also learned how to find time for myself. The classes that were offered gave me so much insight into what PTSD, TBI and depression meant.

     The AFW2 program and family helped me so much. I am now at the point in my journey where I want to try and help more. I now know that I have a family; a support group that I can confide in when I'm having a problem.

Anyone can refer an active-duty Airman into the AFW2 program; download the worksheet by clicking the button below and submit the finalized form via email.


Refer an Airman Worksheet

AFW2 Program Mailing Address

  • ATTN: AFW2
  • 550 C St. West, Ste. 37
  • JBSA Randolph TX
  • 78150-4739