In 2011, as Kathleen prepared to finish her college degree, her husband of one year, Aaron, was catastrophically injured while attempting to disarm an IED in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The blast would cost him double-above knee amputations, multiple injuries to his hands and arms, a TBI and a fertility-threatening wound. Life and marriage changed in an instant. While Aaron spent the next two years recovering, Kathleen found speaking opportunities to share her experiences as a young caregiver spouse. In March 2013, USO Metro awarded Kathleen the John Gioia Patriot Award.
That same year, while pursuing the potential of IVF for starting a family, Kathleen became pregnant. Their journey with infertility and conception was documented in the award-winning short documentary “The Next Part.” In 2014, Kathleen served on a panel for The Bob Woodruff Foundation’s “Intimacy After Injury” conference, the first of its kind to openly explore the often unspoken injuries and effects of war.
The Poloskys have both served in uniform and on the battlefield. In 2008, both were stationed in Afghanistan as part of the storied 101st Airborne Division when Christina suffered anaphylactic shock and was evacuated to Germany. Christina went from leading Soldiers to some days being unable to do laundry or cook for her family. Kevin now cares for Christina and helps in raising their five children while also working at the Pentagon on active duty. It’s two full time jobs, but he feels blessed every day he gets to do it. Kevin hopes to share his wife’s story and stories like hers to ensure that those veterans with invisible injuries should have their sacrifices in the name of duty and honor recognized.
Brannan and Caleb’s story sounds like many military love stories: long deployments, missed childbirths. But their story is very different. Caleb’s two tours in Iraq included many close calls with various explosive devices that resulted in physical injuries, but also mental ones. Brannan committed to helping her husband cope with adjusting to life with TBI and PTSD and to raising awareness about the needs of military and veteran Caregivers. Brannan started Family Of a Vet to help other military and veteran caregivers, family members, and veterans find resources and support as well as educate others about the struggles of families like theirs.