I am the wife. I have never deployed to a combat zone. I have never physically experienced the hells of war. I have, however, experienced the inner demons that have returned from combat. I am one of many who wake up each morning and pray he’s having a ‘good day’, because the bad days are heartbreaking. I have seen him get angry over the slightest inconveniences, and I have seen him warily glance around when he’s walked into an unknown environment. I watch him as, no matter where we go, he has to have his back against the wall and he has to have scoped out the exits. His hearing is bad after the last explosion, so he reads lips to carry on a conversation. He won’t admit that to many people, but watch him real close and you’ll see it too. Don’t crowd him, and don’t overwhelm him, he doesn’t like it. Be careful at parties, make sure he’s ready in case a balloon pops. If he’s staring at a computer screen and has brought up old pictures of ‘the guys’, give him his space. He’s remembering, and it’s tough on him. He always clenches his jaw when the Bugle sounds at night on-post. I don’t think he even realizes he does it. When he sleeps at night, and his arm is curled around me, I feel his hand twitch, and it’s always the same. Even when he’s sleeping, he’s still pulling the trigger, still keeping the target in his sights. No, I may not have deployed, but I have seen the hells of war. I have learned to welcome the same face home, but to fall in love with the new guy behind that face. I have learned to watch for things that will trigger him, and to avoid them at all costs. I have learned to keep it together until I can talk to a friend in peace. It pains me to say, even the kids have adapted to all this. They acknowledge the differences between back then and now, but they still adapt and overcome. War is hell, that saying is exactly right. War is hell.