Marie, how did you know?
When he first came back, it wasn't as clear as when he went back for the third time. I contacted his old first sergeant -- we still keep in touch. I didn't know what to do. I could tell something was wrong and it took my talking to him to see that Billy needed help. He would get into fights over there, and Billy never gets into fights. His whole attitude was really crappy. I could tell just by his tone he was not the same. I contacted his captain in Iraq and they finally listened and sent him home.
Did Billy agree there was something wrong?
We had talked the first time he went over. He said that if there came a time he needed help, he would go. So he didn’t fight me on it.
What has this been like for your kids?
At first they didn’t know what was going on, and I didn't understand either and neither did my wife. There was no help for the family, the Army doesn't provide much help.
Are you in family therapy?
I'm in therapy myself. I was taking the kids, but they didn’t feel comfortable going. It's still an uphill battle. Kayla -- she's 8 now. She was 5-months old when he left so she doesn’t remember too much of how Billy was before. Our younger son, he's had the hardest time. He remembers how daddy was and it's different. He knows he can't talk to him the way he did before. You have to watch how you say things, because if you say it wrong, or you don't even have to say it wrong, but he perceives it that way and he can go up the scale in his anger really fast.
My daughter developed a tic like Tourette's brought on from stress. My youngest son is on Prozac to help him deal with issues. They're doing OK but it's affected them.
What's your day-to-day like?
I'm in a special unit, warrior transition battalion, which is strictly for soldiers that are injured. I'm mainly going to doctors' appointments or therapy. We’re together most of the day. If there's a conflict with my schedule - say a doctors' appointment - the Sun Metro Lift, which is public transportation, will pick me up door to door and take me back. But other than that, Marie is always with me. When I'm back from D.C., I'll see someone in El Paso to deal with vertigo -- I haven’t driven in two years.
It's a day-to-day struggle but we're coping with it better. But I feel like I can't have a day when I don’t feel well because all his days are bad days. It doesn't feel fair to the kids to have two parents down. I just got put on a CPAP machine, for sleep apnea. I have problems sleeping, partly because of what goes on with him at night. I was really upset I had to get that machine – I thought that nothing is allowed to be wrong with me. I have to be the strong one.
Billy, Do you regret your service in anyway?
No. My dad's retired Navy. I've been around the military all my life.
What is it that you want people who see the movie to understand?
To understand that this is a real injury and to not blow it off. If you're at Wal-Mart and someone drops a box and it makes a loud noise, don’t freak out if you see a soldier duck and cover. Just help him. We did our job, we fought for this country now we want someone to fight for us.
And their families.