I met my husband when I was finishing graduate school at San Diego State University. It was a storybook romance—he was the general’s aide-de camp and I was the colonel’s daughter. Lt. Col. Rich Wersel was an outstanding Marine, accepting every position and assignment with the utmost dedication and sense of honor. He was a part of the initial invasion in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He even volunteered to go back to Iraq in 2005, taking the place of a fellow Marine who was experiencing a personal hardship. Seven days after he returned home from his second tour, he died suddenly of cardiac arrest. It was a regular day that had begun as innocuously as any other, and there I stood at the end of it with my life’s plan entirely changed. Suddenly I could see time splitting into two separate pieces, categorizing everything into “before” and “after” this devastating event. Despite feeling frozen in grief, I worked harder than I ever had upon realizing that I would now be caring for myself and for our two kids alone. I decided to stay in the Camp Lejeune area and maintain the familiarity and lifestyle that my children needed while continuing to work as an audiologist with Onslow County Schools in North Carolina. When the time came to work out the logistics of Rich’s military death benefit, I had unknowingly stumbled into the political arena. Shortly after my husband’s death in May 2005, Congress enacted a two-tier death benefit, and increased the military death benefits for active duty service members, however, the criteria did not include all deaths, and the increase of financial benefit depended on the circumstances and location of the death. Unfortunately, this excluded many families, including mine, from receiving this benefit. This content is an exclusive benefit for American Academy of Audiology members. If you're a member, log in and you'll get immediate access. Member Login If you're not yet a member, you'll be interested to know that joining not only gives you access to top-notch resources like this one, but also invitations to member-only events, inclusion in the member directory, participation in professional forums, and access to patient resources, tools, and continuing education. Join today!