By Matthew Langston
Leader’s Training Course
While deployed in Iraq, Andrew Kelley fell from a rooftop during a combat mission. After hurting his back, the former Army line medic was medically retired.
He battled a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder upon returning home while his wife, Taryn, cared for him and their three children.
After talking with her husband about his Army experience, Taryn decided to follow the same career path.
“I’m in school for nursing right now and just the way he talked about it, I can tell a part of him still wants to be in,” said Taryn, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington.
The nursing school student, a Cadet with Charlie Company, said she has some difficult days being at home with her husband, as she gets up early to watch her children and spends long nights staying up with their 8-month-old. She strives to be sensitive of Andrew’s severe PTSD, reminding him to take his medications and allowing him time to cool off if situations become too much to handle.
“Anytime the kids cry or anything becomes too stressful, he has to leave,” she said. “I end up taking care of everything else.”
Inspired by Andrew’s service in the line of duty, Taryn attempted to join ROTC two years ago. A month after talking with recruiters, she discovered she was pregnant. Despite being forced to wait to join, she was not discouraged. She continued to discuss aspects of the Army life with her husband and realized it would be the best choice to help support her family.
“She actually weighed the pros and cons of it,” Andrew said. “It was something that really inspired her, knowing that the Army will take care of us.”
Taryn came to the Leader’s Training Course to catch up on curriculum missed during the first years of ROTC. Andrew believes the course is going to help his wife find who she really is, as training helps unveil the Soldier inside her.
“There’s a deeper part of her that she hasn’t discovered yet and nobody really knows,” he said. “It’s going to show her the strong person that she is, and it’s going to give her that confidence and realization that this is something that not only she wants to do, but that she very well can do.”
With consideration of her husband’s injuries, being deployed in a combat zone brings more consideration to Taryn’s career path, but will not stand in the way of her goals.
“It’s always a concern, but at the end of the day, it’s what is best,” she said. “It’s what is going to take care of the family.”
As the couple has switched roles with each other, from training to become a Soldier to being a stay-at-home parent, Andrew said it feels different to know she is the one crawling through mud and getting dirty while he cares for their children.
“It’s a whole new ballgame,” he said. “She’s the one out there fighting for us, and I’m the one at home fighting for our kids.”
As Taryn trains to become an Army nurse, she said LTC is something she wanted to experience to find out what she can and cannot handle. She said being at Fort Knox is a nice change from the environment back home.
“Everything back at home is not about me,” she said. “Here, it is.”