Violating his first rule of leadership was the jolt he needed to awaken from his postdeployment and post-divorce haze. Just like during the flight to Iraq, he was forced to reconcile events outside of his control, and eventually he could not imagine an alternative path. Over the next few months, the jumpiness and irritability faded, as it usually does for most after deployment. While he healed, he focused his energy on morality and justice, and he began to respect and see people for what they believed rather than who they were. By deconstructing himself, fate gave him the opportunity to rebuild and reinvent his life in a much deeper way than was previously possible. Fatalism was the mental construct he needed to take unavoidable bad events and use them as a launching pad for personal growth and development, rather than let them destroy him.
My husband’s career and personal life have been filled with fortune since the deployment. He has cultivated his identity and self in a way that brings him much closer to his ideal, and I am not sure he would have achieved that level of personal fulfillment had he not been through the experience. He went on to serve two more deployments, one more to Iraq and another to Afghanistan, and he has held a variety of leadership positions and achieved the rank of Colonel. And of course, he met me, and at the exact right time in each of our lives. Today his teenage sons know him as one who values upstanding character, honor, and doing the right thing. He looks back on this tumultuous time and says fate led him—and saved him—there. I see a man whose selflessness and valor redirected the destiny of hundreds of U.S. soldiers.
Acknowledgement Disclaimer. The views expressed in this chapter are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy of the Departments of Army/Navy/Air Force, Department of Defense or U.S. Government. The author declares no financial, commercial, or other conflict of interests.
Mary El Pearce is a military public affairs specialist and the wife of an Army psychiatrist. The chapter focuses on her husband’s first deployment to Iraq in 2004 where he served as medical director of Combat Stress Company.