Tallahassee Soldier Lives With PTSD, Divorce, & Death of a Child

By: Lee Gordon Email
By: Lee Gordon Email

Rob Springer and his best friend Puma are enjoying a little sunshine and a a rare outing away from home.

Rob and Puma have been together for about three years, a bond that became necessary after Rob returned from overseas…

"I don't want to get out, I don't want to be bothered. The only one that gives me comfort is my dog Puma."

Rob Springer spent over nine months in the Middle East, four months in Iraq, a month in Afghanistan, and the rest of the time in Qatar. He was a medic nurse-his job was to heal his fellow soldiers and he took great pride in serving his country. It was the best and worst experience of his life.

"My first night in Iraq…incoming rockets and missiles were coming in and I jumped out of bed and went under the bed and had the Kevlar over me. It took awhile to get used to it."

Springer returned stateside in 2007 and moved back into civilian life with his wife and his two kids, son James and daughter Kaitlyn.

"Man that was awesome to be home with my family."

It was awesome, until it wasn't anymore. Rob said he knew right away something just wasn't right. He wasn't sleeping well, and he just felt lost-like he didn't belong in his own skin.

It was then that Springer discovered that he had PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a very common condition for soldiers who return from the war.

"You don't have control over being able to do that, to get up when the alarm rings or etc. It's a frustrating feeling that you can't perform like you did before."

Rob struggled through a job at the VA and had a hard time dealing with life----it was also around that time that his wife decided that she too had enough.

"It's not only affected me, it's affected obviously I think that's why my ex wanted to divorce me. She couldn't deal with it."

Before he left for the war, Rob Springer had it all, he had his health, his family, and his good fortune. But in a flash, that was all gone. And just when he thought things couldn't get any worse, when he couldn't slip deeper into depression, he got the phone call that no father should ever have to take.

"This is my daughter, she passed away December 19th, 2009. She was hit in a cross walk, a driver ran my ex and them down. She didn't survive that. That's been tough for me, very tough. I miss her a lot. She was my first born child, daddy's little girl."

It's been just over two years since Kaitlyn died. Rob lives in Tallahassee, with Puma in a small apartment near FSU while his ex-wife and son live in Jacksonville. He still doesn't leave the house much, only to go to the dog park and buy groceries. His life is lived in a constant state of fear, because that's what he learned in Iraq, and even today, he can't help but wonder what's around the corner.

"Always on alert, always on guard and I'm still that way when I go out to places. I sit where I can sit and see everything and anyone coming in for any type of threats."

But with Puma, there's no threat, just an unconditional love that Rob Springer hasn't had in years. He says he's closer to his dog than he is his own son, a testament to just how much his four legged friend has helped him.

"When you are dealing with PTSD, anxiety, depression or the loss of a daughter, all put together in a few years-he's been my four legged angel."

First tour of duty as an Infantryman was with the Active Army from APR 1986(Delayed Entry Program) -> JUL 1988 @ FT Carson, CO with 1st Battalion 8th Infantry Regiment 4rth Infantry Division.

Second tour of duty as an Infantryman/Commo/& M-60 Gunner summer 1992 was @ FT Sherman, Panama Jungle Operations Training Center(JOTC) with Florida Army National Guard Bravo Company 1st Battalion 1st-12th Infantry Regiment out of West Palm Beach, FL

Third tour of duty summer 1999 was @ El Cuco, El Salvador Operation New Horizons with US Army Reserves 345th Combat Support Hospital 81st Reserves Readiness Command out of JAX NAS, Jacksonville, FL

Fourth tour of duty MAY 2004 -> FEB 2005 was OIF x1 OEF x3 with Central Command as a Joint Team Medic served in Iraq 4 months, Afghanistan 1 month, Uzbekistan 1 month, Qatar about 2.5 months. I served with the 1st CAV, 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, 4rth Infantry Division, and quite a few others.

Fifth tour of duty OEF was as a Senior Arms/Weapons Instructor SEP 2007 -> SEP 2008 @ FT Hunter-Liggett, CA

Also: Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for Service Members still serving, Veterans, and their family/friends


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  • by sharon Location: orange park on Jan 18, 2012 at 09:15 PM
    Dear Rob: Thank you so much for giving to your country. In 2003 I almost lost my son Army ranger today i still live it. Will always be your friend hugs to you.
  • by Rick Location: Tallahassee on Mar 4, 2011 at 03:37 AM
    Rob you are my hero also. I know guys that I shared this with in Viet Nam. Our country never helped them. I can't beleive what our great country spends our money on and forgets about our Vets. I'm ashamed. Don't forget God spelled backwards is Dog. Must be a reason for that.
  • by Pete Location: Maui HI on Mar 3, 2011 at 01:58 PM
    Rob, as a veteran, I sympathized with my fellow patriots that suffer from PTSD. I would like to do something to help you attain solitude and a peace of mind. I would like to send you a Free DVD to use as part of your healing therapy. Contact me through EAffirmations.com and I'll send it ASAP. You can preview my videos on youtube - search EAffirmations! Your life is waiting - Let's get moving!
  • by Anonymous Location: Thomasville,Ga on Mar 3, 2011 at 08:27 AM
    Rob: I understand your PTSD and how rough life is for you. My husband served in Desert Storm and suffers from PTSD. He too is always looking for the next threat whereever we go. I agree with the other comments especially that of finding a Bibe Believing church.GOD is the Answer to all your problems and I believe that HE can restore what has been lost.Its not replacement but RESTORATION. There is a difference. I pray that you will find peace and allow healing to come. Thank You to you ,my husband and all the others who have given a great sacrifice for this country. God Bless you.
  • by MEOK Location: TALLAHASSEE on Mar 3, 2011 at 06:34 AM
    I AM SYMPAHIC WITH ROB. I, TOO HAVE PTSD WITH DEPRESSION. I GET TREATMENT FOR THESE CONDITIONS, BUT SINCE I HAVE NO HEALTH INS, IT IS BASICALLY JUST THROWING PILLS AT THE PROBLEM. NOT ONLY DO I HAVE THESE THINGS GOING ON, I ALSO LOST MY SON IN 2009, AND MY HUSBAND IS OUT OF WORK. FOR THE LAST YEAR WE HAVE LIVED ON WHAT I MAKE $14K! WE ARE MONTHS BEHIND ON OUR RENT, AND IT IS ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD AND OUR UNDERSTANDING LANDLORD THAT WE ARE NOT HOMELESS. BECAUSE OF MY CONDITION I CAN ONLY WORK 4 DAYS A WEEK. ON THE WEEKS THAT I WORK MORE I AM A NERVOUS WRECK, AND HARDLY FUNCTION. YOU HAVE MY DEEPEST COMPASSION, AND UNDERSTANDING.
  • by Concerned Location: Crawfordville on Mar 3, 2011 at 06:26 AM
    Just remember this Rob. God never gives you more than you can handle. If you turn to Him in your time of need he will help you. God bless you, your dog and family.
  • by Deepest respect on Mar 3, 2011 at 06:03 AM
    A strong story! I have the utmost respect for this man! Our federal government needs to spend less money on useless projects and provide more money for the VA to care for our soldiers.
  • by Trust God Location: Perry on Mar 3, 2011 at 05:59 AM
    This is very interesting we all have different problems. Especially dealing with life, Rob I grew up with friends who fought in Viet Nam and when they came back they were in worse shape than they were before they left. You have suffered a great loss, let me recommend a solution. Find yourself a Holy Ghost Filled, Bible believing Church so the Lord can help you. Here are just a few who had the same problems; the Prophet Elijah, King David when he was fleeing King Saul, Jeremiah when he had to preach to Judah they all had the same problems. Take time to find yourself. There is nothing too hard for God. After all of these years why not give God a try
  • by sarah on Mar 3, 2011 at 05:35 AM
    Rob, you are an amazing person and deserve the best out of life. You have been through so much and have had a rough time dealing with it. I'm not sure how I would be able to handle that either. May peace be with you and Puma, I'm so glad the lil pup is there to keep you happy. I can tell you this though, despite your pain, your child needs you. I think it would be a good mission for you to take trips to Jacksonville, even if its once a month, I know he would appreciate it. Puma would love the beach too! Maybe the three of you could spend the day out there and watch the sunset. Its good to focus on all of the good things when you're going through a storm. We all love you and are praying for the best. Keep your head up and your heart open. You are 100% safe here, nobody is going to hurt you now. :)
  • by Sam Location: Tallahassee on Mar 3, 2011 at 05:08 AM
    All I can say is wow. Maybe the best story I've ever seen on WCTV and I've been watching for a long time...I'm tearing up just thinking about it.
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