The Other Front Line: Caring for Wounded Vets

From the moment Sgt. Michael Boothby returned from Iraq with a brain injury, his wife, Megan, was at his side.

"We have faith. My husband will walk again," Megan told ABC anchor Bob Woodruff.

For the Boothbys and other military families, the road to recovery is not always smooth.

As Woodruff reported on "Good Morning America" this morning, the families of wounded veterans have had to carry a double burden: physically and emotionally supporting their loved ones while simultaneously fighting for them to get proper care.

Navigating the military and veterans health-care system can be daunting and sometimes downright maddening for the families of wounded veterans.

"It's almost like a scavenger hunt," said Sarah Wade, whose husband, Sgt. Ted Wade, lost an arm and suffered a traumatic brain injury when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive device, IED, nearly three years ago.

"I'm still trying to recover what I've lost, and I'm still trying to reorganize myself," Ted said.

Sarah dropped out of college and quit her job so she could advocate full time for her husband's care.

"It's taken a toll on me physically. It's been really, really hard," she said.

Sarah's efforts are starting to pay off. After a long struggle with the veterans' health system, she got Ted private therapy sessions, which are beginning to show promise.

Spouses Struggle to Cope

"I think many times the stress is greater on the spouse, trying to keep the family together, dealing with the issues that their children may be having and, of course, trying to keep the home going too," said Mary Jo Myers, an advocate for wounded veterans.

At Fisher House, which provides aid for the families of wounded veterans, faith and fortitude are the themes of a support group for family members.

"We all dig very deep and grab every bit of hope and faith that we can find," said the wife of one wounded vet.

Another spouse said their job was to keep the flame of hope alive for wounded vets who receive a dire prognosis.

"You hear you are going to die, you're not going to wake up, you're never going to walk again. And we as family members and caregivers, are just saying, 'No,'" the woman said.

For ABC's Woodruff, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while reporting in Iraq, the faith of his family helped pull him through his crises.

"As I learned firsthand through my own injury and rehabilitation, there is no way to sufficiently describe the value of family. It is priceless," Woodruff said.

When interviewing Michael Boothby, Woodruff reflected on how lucky men like he and Michael were.

"It's amazing, these wives, aren't they?" Bob asked Michael. "How great is it that Megan has been in this for you?"

"Megan's a heckuva girl. … She's been there for the whole thing," Michael told Bob.

Sacrifice motivated by love is the legacy of the wives, parents and relatives of these wounded veterans.

There are no Purple Hearts or Bronze Stars to honor them, but as this war has illustrated, maybe there should be.

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