In 2006, Staff Sgt. David McCaulla, a truck commander and gunner with the Army National Guard, returned from Iraq to a wonderful homecoming. A few weeks later, the rush of excitement began to fade. "I thought we'd be happy," said Amanda, his wife. "It was far from that."
Post-deployment transition can be a rough road for the battle-worn. The almost abrupt switch from mission-oriented to family-oriented can affect a soldier on many levels. And in some cases, the husband, or wife, that was deployed may not be the same person who returns home. That's a notion David's wife, Amanda, is familiar with.
When Sgt. McCaulla returned from a second deployment, he was monstrously short tempered with their five children and had no sense of purposefulness. "He's just not who I married," said Amanda.
Sgt. McCaulla was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. To make matters even more challenging, Amanda's worries weren't solely centered on his changing behavior. Just before his second deployment and subsequent diagnoses, Sgt. McCaulla's military pay became entangled in a series of delays that spun the family into financial distress. "We weren't getting half of what he was supposed to get," she said. "We just got so far under. We were grounded."
That was when Amanda called USA Cares. With donations from the American public, USA Cares was able to assist the McCaullas with $3472.87 in mortgage, auto and utility payments.
"I could never repay USA Cares for the impact they've had on my family and myself," Amanda said. "USA Cares gave me my sanity and my life back."
Today, David's pay is still delayed. The McCaullas lost their home and Amanda and their four youngest children live in a three bedroom trailer with her mother. David lives with his grandmother, which is 90-minute drive away. David still attends bi-monthly clinical PTSD treatment and therapy sessions.
But they haven't given up.
"I love my husband and I want him to get well," Amanda said. "He wants to get well. We had a very passionate marriage. We loved each other. He was everything I ever wanted and he still is."
Learn how you can volunteer your time or donate to help a post-9/11 military family here.