When U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to downplay traumatic brain injuries (TBI) sustained by American troops in an Iranian missile strike, University of Windsor assistant professor and former military spouse Kate Kemplin knew she needed to speak out.
Not only has the nursing professor and researcher dedicated years of her life to studying brain injuries sustained in combat and has worked for the U.S. army as a nurse specialist — she has witnessed the toll these injuries can take on a person first hand.
Her ex-husband, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Froede, an American soldier, sustained a TBI while serving in Iraq in 2007, which Kemplin says eventually led to his death by suicide in June of last year.
“His physical body came back from Iraq, but he didn’t,” she said.
Personality changes, sleep disturbances, headaches, trouble sleeping, paranoia were all symptoms that followed, Kemplin said.
“When he got back, I could see that it was beyond re-adjustment, it was beyond normal re-integration issues that service members have when they get back. These were strong indicators that a traumatic brain injury had occurred,” she said.
The couple had married in 2004 and had two daughters together. They divorced in 2013.
Kemplin, who is originally from Owen Sound, moved her family from the U.S. to Kingsville, Ont., last year, six weeks after Froede’s death.