Caleb and Kathleen Darling of Kennewick, Washington participated in the 2011 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego. The clinic was one stop on their rehabilitative journey together as Caleb recovers from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.
Over 100 Veterans from 32 states took part in the five day clinic. Participating in surfing, kayaking, track and field, sailing, rowing, and cycling. The event is open to U.S. military service Veterans with orthopedic amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, psychological trauma, certain neurological conditions, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries and other eligible injuries incurred in the last six years.
Photo Journalist: Jeffrey Bowen, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
Caleb is an Army Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident two months after returning from Afghanistan. His wife Kathleen was in the car with him and luckily she walked away mostly unharmed.
The accident presented Caleb and Kathleen with a new set of challenges that they would face together. Participation in the Summer Sports Clinic gave them a new glimmer of hope.
“I am so so, SO incredibly proud of him. He continues (daily!) to amaze me and show me how strong of a man he is. I’m so blessed to be his bride. When he’s given the easy way out, even in a situation that it makes complete sense for him to do so, he chooses to be brave.”
“One of the other things that we all noticed a change in was…Smile…”
The two met as kids and their romance blossomed as teenagers and eventually led to marriage when Caleb joined the Army. They left their hometown in Washington together for Ft. Drum, N.Y.
A life of service presents a number of hardships for soldiers and their families, but nothing compared to the challenge of staying together after a serious injury.
“There have been so many changes in Caleb over the last week! It’s been remarkable to see the way his humor has come out like crazy and how he’s been able to join in on conversations. It was a challenging week, but I think it did him some good for sure!”
“One of the things I love about being with this group is that I don’t have to explain everything and feel bad for the way he’s reacting. They get it. They understand what it feels like and in some way even if they don’t have TBI, with whatever injury they do have, they’ve been there.”
“We’ve been trying since March to get the tandem bike for us and now we don’t need it. This is going to be my new mission once we’re home; to get him a bike!”
“When I look around at this remarkable group of men and women who are here at the clinic and hear some of their stories of what they’ve had to overcome, it helps to put things in perspective and remind me that we ARE early into his recovery and he’s come SO far!”
The Summer Sports Clinic brought Caleb and Kathleen closer together as they found a number of new activities they can now do together.
“I love the man he is now because I knew that man he was before the injuries. I’ve learned (and am still learning!) how to love this man that he has become with so much passion and life because he’s still my husband…still my guy.”
“One of the veterans was quoted at the closing ceremony Friday night, and his words have stuck with me in a surprising way…” “The revenge of war is to live life well.”