KENDUSKEAG, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- War is more than a battlefield and even when the treaties are signed, the effects of combat linger for years. Not just for the soldiers, but also for their families at home who sometimes find their whole lives have changed.
Marjorie Pennington became a caregiver for her husband, Matthew Pennington, in 2006. The army vet was seriously injured during his second tour in Iraq.
"He was on a security convoy and he tried to avoid hitting an IED, however it went underneath the HUMV and basically took Matthew's left leg off below the knee and severely injured his right leg."
Pennington has seen her husband through surgeries, physical therapy and adjusting to civilian life. The physical adjustments were tough, but the mental adjustment of learning to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are much tougher.
"My husband self medicated and drove his car at a high rate of speed into a brick wall to commit suicide," said Pennington. "That to me was an awakening for me to know ok something is wrong. I need to find out what is going on with my husband."
Becoming a caregiver has been one of the biggest challenges Pennington has had to face. Through resources like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation she's been able to find answers for her husband. The foundation named her a 2017 fellow and gave the Code of Support a grant to have Pennington work from home as their first ever military caregiver peer navigator, connecting other caregivers to support and resources.
"Not everybody comes in this pretty little box with a bow," said Pennington. "We're all unique, we're all different, but in the end we're all human and we all deserve the same respect and help."
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