Justin Lindley (SSG,US Army) – Crown Point, IN
Local Project Lead
Dear Water For A Warrior,
I wanted to nominate my husband for a pool through your program. My husband, Justin Lindley, was combat wounded during his last deployment. He suffers from physical injuries (spinal cord injury, partial hearing loss, partial vision loss, titanium plates in his face/facial reconstruction, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, just to name a few. He also suffers from the invisible injuries from war; Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and survivors remorse.
We are very blessed that he made it home, however, he hasn’t made it home, if that makes sense.
My husband suffers from chronic pain daily. He has to live off of pain medications, just to get through the day. He can not physically work out due to his physical injuries. And sadly, even if he were physically able to go to a gym, his mental disabilities would prohibit him from going. He rarely goes out in public due to his PTSD and hyper-vigilance. He is constantly on-guard and watching his back. Third, he has fybromyalgia and diabetic nerve pain, so any public pool has to be pretty warm for him to be able to get into it. And to take this even further, if he were to miraculously overcome these obstacles, his diabetes also causes diabetic wounds, which prohibits him from entering public pools during these outbreaks.
There was a time, when we lived in Fort Campbell, that my husband was able to take aqua-therapy sessions quite often. This helped so much with his pain, his fatigue, his weight, self-confidence and the list goes on. Water has healing powers in such wonderful ways. It is really hard to put into words how much aqua-therapy helps my husband, I truly invite everyone to visit a wounded warrior care unit and watch these guys doing aqua-therapy. They come alive again.
Sadly, not many veterans have access to aqua-therapy, including my husband. We moved to an area where it’s not offered near-by and the places that do offer it are forty-five minutes to an hour away. Why is this a problem you ask?! Well, being combat wounded, my husband suffers from many triggers. Riding in a vehicle is one of them. Anything on the side of the road could be a road-side bomb. Aggressive drivers could be suicide bombers. Different sounds and smells can also cause triggers. So it is not worth the drive to go to aqua-therapy, when he is triggered on the way there and on the way home. It is counter-productive. I would also like to add, wives/caregivers, such as myself, give up their entire lives to take care of these injured soldiers. We are driving them to appointments 3,4 even 5 times per week. On top of taking care of them daily, taking care of the children and household. We are mom, dad, chauffeur, cook, maid, tutor and a million other things rolled into one person.
Having a pool would change our lives! I say OUR because it would change my combat wounded husbands life, my life (as a wife/caregiver) and our children’s lives. How can a pool do all of that you ask!? It’s simple. My husband doesn’t have a set schedule, like you and I. Sometimes his PTSD keeps him up at all hours of the night. Having a pool would allow him to have aqua-therapy on his own time (day or night). He could have access to aqua-therapy several times per day, should he choose to, without having to get a ride there. All he would have to do is walk out his back door. There would be no driving or triggers involved. Having access to aqua-therapy would improve his health in so many ways. Like I stated above, my husband can’t physically exercise, so he has gained a lot of weight, causing many health problems. Having access to aqua-therapy would help him physically and mentally. He would live a healthier life-style. A pool could potentially save his life, no exaggeration.
How could the pool change my life, as his wife / caregiver? Not many people understand how many hours we put into our wounded warriors and how we don’t have “me time.” And many times our own health suffers because we are taking care of our loved ones. Having a pool right in our own back yard would allow me the freedom for him to exercise without having to drive an hour there, an hour back and paying for childcare. It would save us time and money. It would give me a few extra hours in the day to give myself some “me time.” To take care of myself, even if it means sitting in the sun, catching some rays and getting some vitamin D while my husband exercises. Many couples, like my husband and I, don’t get to “date” often, due to the physical and mental disabilities. How awesome would it be to take a dip in our own pool after the kids go to bed!!?? It could re-kindle our marriage, spark that flame that is dwindling away slowly. Our lives aren’t normal, not even close. I am not complaining, I just want the civilian world to understand our challenges. I say OUR, again, because we are in this together – forever and always. I will never stop looking for ways to help my husband have a quality of life again – EVER !
And this is my favorite part. I want you to stop and think for a minute. What if you couldn’t play with your children like you used to? What if you couldn’t get down on the floor and play cars with your little boy? What if you couldn’t throw your baby girl up in the air and catch her, to watch her giggle? What if you couldn’t climb the stairs to tuck them into bed and read them a bed-time story? Of course you would compromise, but it’s never the same. My children LOVE the water and love to swim. What a way to bring that father-child bond back again. Because the weight is lifted off of your body while you are in a swimming pool and that pain isn’t there, it would allow my husband to play with his children again. He could lift his daughter up again… did you read that, HE COULD HOLD HIS CHILD AGAIN!! We have five children…and the joy a pool could bring to our entire family is priceless.
22 veterans commit suicide per day. That means we lose more veterans to suicide per day then we do to war. And my husband was almost one of those 22 per day. I am not sharing this story for pitty on him, I am sharing this story as an eye opener. (I do have his permission to share this story as well). He has been suicidal many times in the past. His exact words were “I am tired of the pain and I do not want to be a burden on my family.” I have seen the life-less-ness in my husbands eyes. I have also seen that life come back when he is in a swimming-pool with his children. It is something that HE can do. Something that he doesn’t need my help with. Having to have a caregiver at such a young age is pretty tough for him. A pool would give him his quality of life back and give him his “man card” back again.
I hope that everyone takes the time to truly understand what a pool, hot-tub or spa (water therapy) could do for our wounded warriors. It can give them their quality of life back, it could save families and/or marriages, it could potentially save a life.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story…I know that every veteran could benefit from a pool and I pray that someday that the word is spread. Knowledge is power, spread the word – it’s not “just a pool.”