Veteran says without his wife & caregiver, he'd be dead

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A severe injury cannot only impact the victim, but also, their friends and family members. Tim Folkers was injured while serving in Iraq, and now, his wife has become his caregiver.

"Each day is a challenge," Cara Folkers said.

For the last six years, Cara Folkers has taken care of herself, her children and her husband Tim -- but that is not where their story begins.

Tim and Cara met in August of 2004, while he was on leave from the Army.

Three months later, Tim was stationed in Germany and Cara flew out for the holidays.

"We drove to Paris and he actually proposed under the Eiffel Tower and then we -- he was actually supposed to redeploy pretty quickly so we went ahead and got married in December," Cara Folkers said.

A few weeks later, Tim was sent on his second deployment to Iraq.

As a forward observer, he encountered dozens of improvised explosive devices -- or IEDs. His camps were also constantly shelled by mortars. When he finally came home -- all those blasts left a lasting effect.

"He was really quick to anger. He was kind of forgetful. He would isolate a lot. He would go to work and come home and go in the backyard and drink and just not want to be around the family," Cara Folkers said.

"I'd just gotten back and I didn't have time to process any of it so I'm just coming back thinking being this angry is normal," Tim Folkers said.

In 2007, Tim was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. A year later, he was medically discharged from the Army.

His injuries caused flashbacks and nightmares. He had trouble being in public and finding the motivation to get out of bed.

Cara was doing everything for him. Tim says without her, he'd be dead.

"That was really when we hit rock bottom and we knew we had to really get some help," Cara Folkers said.

After a brief stay in north Chicago, the family moved to the Milwaukee area.

Tim meets regularly with a psychologist at the VA, and is even participating in yoga.

Meanwhile, Cara continues to support and care for him, and for that, he is incredibly grateful.

"Sometimes when I, I'm having an episode, I don't realize it until afterwards when I cool down. Sometimes I just wake up that morning feeling I don't want to see people today or do anything but she makes me get out of bed. She makes me do things I wouldn't do otherwise," Cara Folkers said.

Cara is currently working on a masters in student personnel administration. She hopes to help veterans looking to get college degrees. She's also been named a fellow by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation -- a national program that aids caregivers like herself.

Tim says things are getting better and he looks forward to being more active in his children's lives.