My father came home from Iraq a monster

Kristi Anne Raspperry, 19, lives with her mother and father, Heather and John Moates, outside Savannah, Georgia. Heather cares full time for her husband, John, an Army veteran who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq. The strain of that, coupled with fights with her husband, prompted the Army wife to try overdosing on pills in 2010. Heather didn’t tell her daughter about her suicide attempt. She told Kristi Anne that she had to go to the hospital because she was sick. Kristi Anne kept her suicide fantasies a secret, too. Mother and daughter only recently began sharing these painful experiences because Kristi Anne is seeing a counselor. The following is an edited transcript of Kristi Anne’s interviews with CNN’s Ashley Fantz. John Moates did not want to talk at length with CNN but responded to his daughter’s interview with a statement, which also appears below.

I was around 11 or 12 when my dad deployed. I was very sad because my dad was going, possibly, to die and it was just, I didn’t know what was going to happen to him.

I always kind of grew up in the military brat life, so I knew that sometimes when your parents deploy, sometimes they don’t come back.

I’d given him a small little necklace that my grandma gave to me. That way I’d make sure he came back safe.

I talked to a few of my friends whose parents had also deployed at the time so they were always there for me. You know, ‘Yeah I think my dad’s doing OK. Is your dad doing OK? Yeah, I’m not really sure about that.’

When he came home the first time, I did notice there was something kind of off about him. He was a lot more aggressive, and he didn’t laugh as much as he usually did. He didn’t really trust people as much.

Going outside, going into public, I noticed that he was a bit more cautious around people. Any loud noises, he would immediately find where it was coming from.

At the time, I had no idea what PTSD was. I just thought this is what he’s really like, but I really didn’t know who this man was now.

I was pretty much afraid of my dad after he came back from Iraq. I really didn’t talk to him that much. He wasn’t my dad; he was some monster that took his place.

‘I felt like I was suffocating’

It was always very heavy-feeling in the air — like there’s a giant cloud of fog everywhere. I really didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I just thought maybe it’s a normal thing that happens in the military because I hear a lot of kids saying, ‘My parents beat me. That’s why I live with my grandparents,’ or this or that. And some kids just don’t even talk to their parents anymore.

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