Why ‘The Younger Heroes’ program is so important

Two weeks after the birth of Olympia Yarger’s daughter, Charlotte, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, her thoughts were suffocating and dark.

“I just would love to have died,” Olympia says, “I was exhausted and emotional but my husband was gone.”

The birth was an easy one but afterwards, Olympia — an Australian — haemorrhaged. Even after her discharge from hospital she was weak and unwell.

At the time her husband, Eric, was a US Marine fighting in an elite unit. He deployed to Afghanistan on his sixth combat tour just 10 days after his tiny daughter came into the world.

“The thought of having to go another seven months thinking about whether or not he died…,” Olympia says, trailing off.

Numerous friends had been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Would Eric be next? Olympia found herself alone and in ill health parenting two young children. She was consumed with worry.

“As a military spouse you’ve got the unwritten law that you don’t complain. But I was so angry with him.”

The way Olympia sees it, this resentment is at the heart of the distress experienced by military caregivers — and also why they stay silent.

“If my husband is a hero and he goes vigorously into battle to fight on my nation’s behalf, how do I get to tell people that it’s horrible? Does America or Australia really want to talk about that?

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