My husband, Rick Dobbs, was a Corpsman in Viet Nam, and, like many other veterans, suffers from PTSD. It took many years of broken relationships, lost jobs, various compulsive behaviors, and finally the onset of horrible nightmares almost 30 years after he came home to prompt him that he needed help. With the help of the Veteran’s Service Center here in Sacramento he began counseling & spent a month in a program at Roseburg, Oregon which helped him tremendously. For the first time, he began talking about his experiences, his “survivor’s guilt,” the pain of not being able to save everyone, and other horrors of war. I felt I was finally getting to know him after almost 20 years of marriage, and I love him even more if that’s possible. But the story I want to share is something totally unexpected that happened that helped him more than anything else. After a series of events only God could have put together, our Pastor asked us to go to Uganda as husband and wife to represent our church as part of a “sister parish” program.
Our church had sponsored the Pastor of our sister parish there to come here and meet our congregation, and he wanted to host someone from our church and let them meet the people in his parish in Uganda. As a result, my husband and I came home totally changed from seeing the lives of the people, especially the AIDS orphans, there. Some of the landscape and houses reminded Rick of Viet Nam, but it didn’t cause the problems he thought it would. Instead, after we came home we both began feeling more and more strongly that we were supposed to do something to help the orphans in Uganda. We made several more trips there on our own, and Rick became the hero of the local children. He would go out every day with pockets full of balloons and lollipops. The kids would swarm him, giving him hugs and vying for his attention. He got to know all their names, where they lived. He made up little games with them that they remember between our trips. When they hear we will be coming, they are all there waiting in front of the Pastor’s home when we arrive. They mob the mob the car and start chanting “Rick, Rick, Rick.”
He has been absolutely transformed by this. We felt God was calling us to build an orphanage in that town in Uganda. We spent our savings on buying a piece of property, setting up a non-profit to raise funds for the building and operation of the orphanage. Rick sold his pickup truck and his Harley-Davidson and put the money in the orphanage account. He has quit smoking, quit gambling, even quit having as many war nightmares and sleepless nights. He is now president of our non-profit and working hard all the time to raise awareness about the orphans’ plight and raise money to keep the orphanage going. And (this a really beautiful part), three of the biggest supporters of this project are Vets. Rick has become really close friends with all three of these men. He has known them all for years as acquaintances, but it was this chance to do something to help the helpless that has brought them together as brothers. This is huge. Rick has never had any real friends or been close to anyone but me in the 22 years we have been married. Helping these kids has been so healing for Rick and the other veterans involved. I know I will never truly understand what he experienced, but I can see the healing and transformation this orphanage has brought with my own eyes and I thank God for it. Anyone who wants to know more, or help in any way with the orphanage, please check out our web site at www.shepherdslove.com. Or just send Rick an e-mail through the web site to say “way to go, Doc!”
I want to conclude by saying a big thank you to all the men and women who have served this great country by giving years of their lives in the military.
Proud to be the granddaughter of a WWI soldier, daughter of a WWII sailor, aunt of a Green Beret, and really proud to be the wife of a Corpsman.