We Are Home

Written by guest blogger, Kristen Howden. Kristen is an E-4 Army veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and now supports her husband Specialist Travis Howden in his military career as a Chinook mechanic and aspiring rotary wing pilot. She works as a social media manager for a nonprofit organization and cares for their three children, ages 2, 8, and 13.

Howden Family

My story is not a very traditional one. When I came through Project Sanctuary, it was with my ex-husband, and I was six months pregnant. He left our family about two weeks later. That week was such a personal discovery opportunity for me. More than anything, I can say that I learned to identify my mental health issues as PTSD and start to get help.

I never really understood what was wrong with me until I realized that there were so many others in my shoes. Getting help and staying active with Project Sanctuary helped me rediscover myself and give back to an amazing organization and fellow veterans. I remarried in May 2015 to someone who is willing to take the time to understand my needs.

Since then we have grown into a strong family unit, and he joined the military three months after we were married. He has been in for 18 months and just received his first promotion to E-4! His ambition is to become a pilot through the Warrant Officer flight program in the next year.

Howden Family

Our first PCS was to JBLM, WA. This turned out to be troublesome because I am in the EFMP program for PTSD, and it was in direct violation of those doctor’s orders. We had to start paperwork for compassionate reassignment to get me out of an environment with high seasonal effective disorder as it was clear that I was going to struggle. We were given an apology and not required to go through the paperwork, instead they allowed us to be reassigned to Hunter Army airfield in Georgia. So after a quick 10-month turn around and some very resilient children, we are starting to settle down again!

It’s not often one gets the opportunity to take off work and make money traveling across America to see family and friends and the greatest America has to offer.

We have crossed four time zones. 12 states. Mountains, valleys, canyons, and rivers. We have gone through countless tunnels and over as many bridges. Waterfalls, plains, great lakes, and probably every American tree. The Gateway Arch and Music Row.

Howden Family

We know three states need to travel more: NH, CT, and RI (never found the plates). Not a single thing was left in a hotel room. Only two potty accidents (I had too much to drink 😂) and NO car/truck issues. We celebrated three birthdays in two states and our adoption. BBQ in KC, sushi in IL, “hot chicken” in Nashville. Moana is my spirit sister. We’ve had plenty of frustrated moments, too.

The military life is rarely easy for anyone, but the chance to adventure and create the memories of a lifetime with our family makes it easier. Life is meant to be lived, and in nine days we tested that theory!



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