“I want to stop hating…everything.”

Veteran Michael Cooley is fighting back tears as he struggles to explain why he wants to take the psychedelic brew ayahuasca. And as is so common with sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder, he struggles hardest when acknowledging the effect his PTSD has had on the people he loves the most.


“I thought, wow, is he ever cute! Just look at him.”

Brooke Cooley recalls the day she met her husband, Mike, in December of 2007. She was working at the 148th MP detachment in HR, charged with logging life-changing details onto her fellow soldiers’ paperwork. He came into her department to get his recent divorce put on his official records.

It was, by any measure, love at first sight. But within weeks she was tasked with a different set of her future husband’s paperwork: cutting his orders to send him to Iraq. It would be the last of his three tours


“I thought I was fine when I got back from the service, from my first deployment,” recalls U.S. Army Corps Veteran Matthew Kahl. “But I was gravely mistaken. I was not OK at all. I was hurt inside.”

Kahl, who served in the 101st Airborne Division from 2007-2011, didn’t grow up wanting to join the military. A contentious relationship with his father, himself a career U.S. Marine Corps officer, prompted Kahl to oppose military service. It was only after his son was born in the years following 9/11 that Kahl felt drawn to serve. And his first deployment of Afghanistan went “extremely well.”


“I went into him deploying thinking PTSD was inevitable, but I didn’t know what that really meant.”

Aimee Kahl met her husband Matt in the summer of 1994, when they and a group of fellow students from high school French class spent the summer in Europe.

The two North Carolina natives quickly became close friends, even living together as roommates for a time and attending the same college. In 2003 their friendship formally blossomed into romance; their first son was born soon afterwards. By 2007, they were married, and in 2008 he had deployed to Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division.