Army Specialist “Arty” Arthur Guise was 31 years old when he took his life and one other after coming home from his second tour in Iraq. He sought help for post-traumatic stress (PTS), but the VA could not see him for months.
I distinctly remember sitting there hopeless at his funeral. None of us understood.
My boyfriend at the time told me to go to the funeral alone, because he didn’t agree with “what happened.” None of us did.
We looked at the pastor, Arty’s pastor, for any small scrap of hope to continue. None of us knew how.
His pastor said a lot of things that day. But there is one short piece of hope he gave me: “I’ve seen what PTS can do to a person,” he said. “The man who did this, the man who died, was not Arthur. He was not the same person you knew and love. Unfortunately, he took that person with him, too.”
And so that was it.
There are a lot of things Arty was–an outdoorsman, a beer enthusiast, and sometimes a food snob. He scoffed at my 5050s and laughed when I tried to incorporate protocol. “Learn how to be an officer first,” he’d chide. He and Trenton are the only people who have come to every one of my promotion ceremonies. He was my first salute when I commissioned in the Navy, and I was his final salute when we laid him to rest.
He was a strong Christian. Not the annoying fake kind who looked down on me for having Trenton at 17 years old, but the kind who would firmly grab my hand in church and lead us to our class while others scoffed and I tried not to cry. I find him there often…now. In the gardens of West Shore Evangelical Free Church and along the baseball field.
And so, sweet Arty, on this Memorial Day and all to follow, we remember you. Every day is Memorial Day to us now. Every time that song comes on the radio, every time I try a new IPA, every time Trenton shows compassion to someone the world shook up a little too hard, we see you. I see you in every single one of my Sailors and Marines. I see you everywhere I go as we take pictures in Israel, Hawaii, Guam, New York City, Gettysburg, Norfolk, Jordan, and on this upcoming July 2nd, Italy. I see you in who I strive to be and in the people I try to influence.
Fairest winds and following seas, my brother.