When Rob Wise left the Marine Corps to join the Army a decade ago he may have looked forward to a better life, starting a family and receiving support from the people he worked for.
The Marines have been known to be less than accepting of new wives and fledgling families. I’ve met more than one soldier who left the Corps for the Army after hearing that if the Marines had wanted him to have a wife, it’d have issued him one. After all, the hard charging, oft-deployed life of a junior Marine can take its toll on girlfriends, wives, and troops alike.
That’s worth mentioning because Andy-Lee Fry at The Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville, Tn., where Wise and his wife Ashley are stationed, tells a story all too common in the military—and Ashley’s dedicated response.
Following Rob’s second Iraq combat tour he started having flashbacks. Vivid moments of surprising intensity that mentally flung him back to battle when hearing a loud noise, or catching a sudden movement from the corner of his eye.
Ashley told Fry the situation demanded professional attention when Rob took all the weapons he had in their home, some booze, went to a local hotel and after she called him, told her, “Life’s just really hard, I might do something stupid.”
She called the Army’s Family Advocacy program, an organisation that supports families in crisis. After the counselor put her hand on Ashley’s arm, told her she was in a safe place and to trust her, Ashley opened up. “I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours,” she told me on the phone. “It’s the only reason she got me.”
What she meant was that as soon as she outlined the difficulties she and Rob had been going through, the session stopped, the advocacy worker got up and Rob was promptly picked up by the Military Police.
Rob was now facing 72 hours confinement, domestic assault charges, and a dishonorable discharge that would cause the family to lose all the benefits they were entitled to. It didn’t take Ashley long to realise Army officials were preparing to make her and Rob the “civilian sector’s problem.”
None of this is unusual, but facing few options Ashley did something that’s started a viral Facebook movement, garnered thousands of followers, and has so far saved her family. Without a voice and ignored, she wrote a pledge on her back, took a picture of it holding Rob’s M4 assault rifle over her head and uploaded it.
The response from other wives watching their husbands suffer post traumatic stress was immediate, and the sudden interest in her case from Rob’s command soon followed.
The Facebook Group Battling BARE was born and now receives pictures from military wives around the country silently screaming the same pledge on their naked backs.
A few of the photos are below, but you can check out the page here and see the movement in its entirety.
Rob is now on staff at with the Army Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell.
I spoke with Ashley on the phone following this post and we’ve agreed she and Battling BARE will join our pool of Smoke Pit contributors at BI Military & defence immediately. Look for the amazing things they’re doing posted here in the coming days.
Photo: Facebook via Ashley Wise
Broken by battle, Wounded by war, I love you forever
Photo: Facebook via Battling Bare
To you this I swore: I will quiet your silent screams, Help heal your shattered soul
Photo: Facebook via Battling Bare
Until once again, my love, you are whole.
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