NEWS | July 6, 2021

When PTSD hits home: A caregiver’s perspective

By Bianca Soto Air Force Wounded Warrior Program

In August 2019, retired Master Sgt. Davie Hobbs began experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

The severity of his symptoms became evident one morning when he had a PTSD episode during a group staff meeting. Not knowing what the future would hold, it was at that very moment when Davie’s wife and Air Force Wounded Warrior, or AFW2, caregiver, Misti Hobbs, knew PTSD had hit home and initiated the beginning of a new journey.

Misti and Davie’s relationship began as nothing short of a whirlwind romance and they immediately married six months after they met. Shortly after, Davie’s PTSD symptoms became more apparent as he began to experience recurring visions, memories, smells, lack of concentration, and paralyzing thoughts. They both agreed to seek mental health therapy and after his episode in August, Misti knew things would get worse before they got better and was entrusted to be his caregiver from that point forward.

“That is the day that I knew being his wife was going to be something more than many wives experience,” Misti said. “It was my honor and privilege to protect and uphold a man that had been protecting me and my family through his service to our country, before I even met him.”

Davie’s PTSD stems from combat and non-combat traumatic events that occurred throughout his 22-year Air Force career. As his caregiver, the biggest challenges Misti faces come from other people who carry a misconception of what PTSD really is, based on the notion of what is portrayed in movies and television shows.

The comments and opinions she hears from others, regarding her husband’s PTSD, takes an emotional toll that fuels her need to educate those who are unfamiliar with PTSD or living with someone who suffers from this mental health condition.

“People have such little understanding of what PTSD actually is and sometimes when they hear Davie’s experiences they compare his trauma or say that he signed up to protect our country, so this is what he signed up for,” Misti said. “I am willing to accept those challenges and educate those who will receive it while protecting and helping my husband.”

PTSD not only impacts the caregiver but the family as a whole. Having a blended family of five young adults, Misti and Davie have learned to be open and help their children understand that their father needs to prioritize his self-care, that he may not be able to socialize as much or as long, or that he may have to cancel plans at a moment’s notice. The shift in their family dynamics has allowed them to communicate and bring to light any matters regarding Davie’s PTSD and his journey of recovery.

“The kids don’t always understand the whys as they are used to having a dad that is always there at a moment’s notice,” Misti said. “No one is used to the man he has become as now he admits that he must take care of his own mental status or health before he can help them. He no longer denies what is happening to him.”

Misti leans on different forms of tools and resources to help her in her role as a caregiver. She utilizes her faith, meditation, breathing techniques, and her artistic talents to help manage the emotions or stressors she faces. As a couple, Misti and Davie utilize their faith and beliefs to overcome the challenges they face along with honesty, communication, and being vulnerable with one another.

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Davie was notified that he would be medically discharged from the Air Force, leaving him and his wife feeling distraught and uncertain about what the future might hold.

It was during this time when Misti suggested they should start a podcast as a form of therapy, and shortly thereafter, DM Wats Podcast was created and launched. The podcast soon became a recovery tool of its own and a platform where Misti and Davie could verbally express their thoughts and feelings on various topics, including PTSD.

“Our intent was to educate members, family members, and others who don’t really have a specific idea of the severity of this mental illness, on what it’s like living with it, and living with someone who has it,” Davie said. “If we can make a difference in one person, that’s one less person that is having issues with the illness. Our podcast has taught us there is strength in our vulnerability.”

PTSD presents itself in many forms and when living with someone with this diagnosis, it can present itself at any moment of the day. Misti shares that people living with PTSD are as, if not more, confused and scared about what is happening to them as you are witnessing them go through it. Sometimes being there to listen and having those hard conversations can create a positive impact.

“To have a month where we can talk honestly and openly about PTSD and live in the light of the truth is more important than ever,” Misti said. “This condition has been misrepresented, misunderstood, and taboo for too long! It is time that we get rid of the stigmas of PTSD.”

The DM Wats Podcast can be found on all streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. New episodes are released Monday through Thursday with listeners tuning in from all across the United States and Europe. You can visit and follow them on Facebook at FB/dmwatspodcast, Instagram at dmwatspodcast, and on their website at dmwats.podbean.com.

Stay connected with us and tune in to our AFW2 social media pages as we continue to showcase virtual events and deliver content highlighting our warriors and caregivers. To learn more about the AFW2 Program, or to refer an Airman, visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil for additional information and resources.