Learning to Love & Trust Again
Marine Captain Chris Ayers’ story is a love story: learning to trust and love his family and friends again—and earn their trust and love—after his heart-hardening experiences and injuries in the military, which left him with wounded legs, vision loss, a traumatic brain injury and PTSD.
As a family, the Ayers have not had it easy. At the time of Chris’ injury, his wife Renee was caring for their oldest daughter Lauren, born with Down syndrome, and seven months pregnant with their second child. Chris’ aggressive and distant behavior because of his TBI and PTSD kept him from being part of taking care of and making decisions for the family, and when their third daughter was born, Chris was out of control.
After Chris’ behavior resulted in his arrest, Renee pled with the district attorney to get her husband some desperately needed help. And so began a time of recovery, of healing and of learning to open up to others again.
“There is a long list of people who have helped and supported me since I’ve been back—my wife, Renee, at the top of the list,” says Chris.
Over the past ten years, Chris and his wife have fallen back in love with the new versions of themselves that they became following his combat injuries. While it hasn’t been easy, they credit the support of their family and of organizations like Impact A Hero for helping them achieve it.
The Impact Community Support Can Have
“Of course, Impact A Hero helped us financially,” says Chris, “but what has meant the most to us has been the friendships and relationships we’ve built. It gave us the opportunity to live again.”
Chris talks about the challenges that returning veterans have with re-sensitizing, coming home and dealing with the issues of family life. Being around other men and women who were handling the same challenges and learning to open up and trust again, he says, helped him grow and mature so that he could move on with his life.
It’s not just about the veterans’ connections, though. The entire family has bonded with others who face similar struggles and have a lot in common with them.
“I always look forward to the Impact A Hero events because we see people we know,” says Renee. “But I also know that I can pick up the phone anytime to call or text and talk to someone running the organization if I need them. I’m the liaison for other wounded families and I direct them to Impact A Hero for help because they always come through.”
With time and support from their family and community, the Ayers family has become a loving unit again. And for Chris’ daughters, dad is a Hero not just because of his military service, but because he’s their loving father.
Their middle daughter, Faith, puts the things she loves most about her dad in this order: “Dad is nice, he loves us, and he served our country.”