Veteran Stories

Jesse Gladney

Since Jesse was a Boy Scout, he realized how much he loved peace and protecting people, which is why he joined the U. S. Army National Guard in April 1987. He did his Basic Training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Jesse deployed to Iraq in 2003 with the 178th Combat Engineers, where he was based at AL ASAD Airbase located in the western part of the country. In 2004, while on patrol guarding a bridge that was being built, his men came under mortar fire. Unfortunately, one of the shells landed near Jesse. The impact of the blast left him bleeding with a concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI). For this, Jesse was awarded a Purple Heart.

After returning home, Jesse retired from the military with 20 years of service. Suffering from PTSD, he still has nightmares, migraines, and difficulty sleeping. “I have a hard time. It’s rough losing people,” he says.

In 2005, Jesse married his childhood sweetheart. He recalls how supportive she was of him while he was in Iraq. He received something from her everyday, which is almost unheard of in a war zone. She helped him endure the loneliness, and sometimes despair, by encouraging him to stay strong and not to give up. “She lifted me up and gave me the strength to continue,” says Jesse.

In 2008, Jesse’s wife was diagnosed with cancer, and it has been a difficult road for both of them ever since. But they are there for each other, staying strong. His wife still hugs Jesse when he has a nightmare, crying with him and  letting him know that things are ok. Jesse tries to help his wife around the house and support her through her difficulties. Their relationship is based on strength and love for one another, and always with a positive attitude.

Purple Heart Homes is replacing the carpet in the Gladney’s home that has been there for 16 years. “It means the world to us that Purple Heart Homes is helping replace the carpet. It will help us breathe better because it was in such bad condition,” says Jesse.

Thank you for your service, Jesse, and thank you to your wife for always being there for you. We salute you both and welcome you to the Purple Heart Homes family.