CHICAGO (CBS)–Sydney Waters and her husband Tyler–a Mundelein police officer and a former member of the SWAT team–met in high school and have three children together.
The family stuck together through Tyler’s two combat tours as a Marine in Iraq, but the trauma Tyler witnessed in war zones overseas has continued to impact the family after his return home to the Midwest.
“He is a man of integrity,” Sydney said. “He would give anyone the shirt off of his back–he’s the hardest worker I’ve met.”
Tyler suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder; his anguish linked to his service in Iraq.
Sydney described the family’s pain in a private social media post.
“I was bawling writing that,” Sydney said, describing her emotions as she detailed the family’s pain online. “I was terrified sharing that (and) felt that I was finally letting out everything that I held inside.”
Sydney described the PTSD symptoms, recalling Tyler shaking, vomiting and nearly fainting.
“It got progressively worse,” Sydney said. “He lost 30 pounds..”
Sydney said her husband “had seen awful things” in combat.
“They had to pick up their brothers who were dead and they had to go back into the city to get other Marines who had lost their lives,” Sydney said.
The response to Sydney’s social media stories was overwhelming, and the Waters family suddenly realized they weren’t alone.
“I have gotten literally hundreds (of comments) from other law enforcement officers, first responders, veterans, nurses (and) doctors who are experiencing the same exact thing who are afraid to tell their employer that they are struggling with depression, PTSD and anxiety,” Sydney said.
With his wife’s support, Tyler is taking sick leave from the police department so he can undergo therapy and start the healing process.
He’s found help with a therapy program called BraveHearts, a group that matches veterans with horses.
BraveHearts has helped him start to move through the healing process, and therapy has led to a new sense of hope for the Waters family.
Sydney hopes to erase the fears of other families enduring similar pain.
“Letting them know they are not alone,” she said. “We can get help.”
Mundelein officials said the village has a wellness program for first responders, and Tyler is being considered for disability leave.