I have always had a love hate relationship for the military. I LOVE and APPRECIATE all members of the military and the sacrifices they make for our freedom. The part I HATE is that I have been a military wife since 2008. My high school sweetheart joined the military in 2007 and left for the first time in 2008 while I was pregnant with our son. He came back 2 days before my due date and missed the entire pregnancy. Thankfully this leave was not combat, so he came home excited for our baby to be here, but the feeling of missing out on a huge chunk of me becoming a mom. The second time my husband left was to combat in Afghanistan. That year was one of the hardest times, or so I thought. Seeing our 2 year old afraid of planes because his daddy got on one and never knew when his dad was coming home was hard, thank goodness for phones calls and Skype back then. At this time our middle daughter was a baby, when he returned she was a wild 1.5 year old and had NO idea who this man in front of her was, the strain it put on their relationship blows my mind to this day because they were missing a bond. As I thought this year was the hardest being away from him, it was the relearning how to live together that was the hardest. To this day, he is not the same person that left on that deployment. Over the last 12 years, he has fought against thinking there was anything wrong. Finally, this year, my husband is owning up to the problems he has faced. He is getting treatment for his PTSD, he has such more of a positive attitude and the relationship with us, and him and the kids has transformed back into the Nick we used to know! No one will ever understand the things our military and first responders see and do- but I am 100% here for them getting the help and treatment they need to go back to a functioning positive lifestyle. With 5 years left before he retires with his 20 years in, with a possible upcoming MOB soon, I can never show my appreciation to the fullest to our military and that is why Whalen’s Heroes is so special to me. I want to act on my appreciation and not just say thank you to the military a few times a year. Veterans give so much to us, I will work everyday to try to give them the respect and help they need and deserve!