Families go to war too

Photo by Kelly West
Photo by Kelly West
Co-authors: 
"I worry about him not coming back and what can happen over there."
Attribution/Name: 
Rayna Cawston
Affiliation: 
wife of an Iraq War veteran

Today my partner Kelly West and I met Charlene Payton Holt, the wife of a Vietnam War veteran. She affirmed a lot of things Danna Hughes, of the Vietnam Veterans Wives, told us earlier in the week.

Women need just as much help as their husbands to cope with the fallout of war. Holt, a retired art educator, said counseling is key for the entire veteran's family to heal.
"We all need counseling in this life," she said. "It is sacred. It's your spirit's medicine."

Later in the day we met with Justin Cawston, 25, and his wife Rayna, 24. Justin, who is in the Army National Guard, returned from Iraq in March. He is preparing to head to Afghanistan in September.

The couple lives on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in the Grand Coulee Dam area.

The first time Justin went away it was hard to deal with his absence and the loneliness that came with it, Rayna said.

While he was away Justin missed the first words and steps of their daughter Antya, 19 months.

"When he left she was barely crawling," Rayna said. "When he came back she was walking."

Their daughter, Mylia, 7, missed Justin too. Her grades slipped in school.

The family has three more months to spend together before Justin heads off to war again.

"I worry about him not coming back and what can happen over there," Rayna said.

For now she is trying to enjoy the time she and the girls have with him.

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