Video by Eric Brandner
GALVESTON, Texas—Conrad DeGrace knew something wasn’t right. It just took him some time to make the connection.
Earlier this year, DeGrace and his wife, Trish, sat on a deck overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and candidly discussed the repercussions of Conrad’s post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorders. The invisible wounds drove him to the brink of suicide during his 2007-08 Iraq deployment.
The issues led to his medical retirement from the Army, but they didn’t subside after his reintegration into civilian life. The DeGraces have since turned to programs including the USO/Project Sanctuary retreat that helped them reach a better understanding of how his post-deployment issues affect their daily lives.
“I always thought of myself as a very strong person,” said Trish DeGrace, who acts as Conrad’s caregiver. “And no matter what I did, it wasn’t about what I was doing, or how much I loved him, it was about ‘I can’t connect with him the way he needs to be connected.’”
Through a USO grant, the DeGraces attended a USO/Project Sanctuary retreat last year in Colorado. There, they and other military couples attended programs, sought out counseling and unplugged from the stresses of everyday life in order to discover new approaches to their post-deployment realities.
“[Trish] said, ‘I thought it was all about your problems,’” said Conrad DeGrace, who was a staff sergeant. “‘And I realize [now] it’s me learning about how to deal with your problems.’"
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