EDISON, N.J. – Specialist Gabriel Texidor served in the Army for five years. He had been deployed in Iraq for a year in 2009 when he was struck by a roadside bomb. While he suffered physical injuries, his post-traumatic stress has been even harder to overcome.
The father of four has had difficulty re-acclimating to civilian life and has a hard time even leaving his house. But one thing Texidor does enjoy is watching his eldest son, Gabriel Jr., learn martial arts. The 3 ½ year old, who goes by the nickname “Bubba” has his martial arts class paid for with a grant from the non-profit organization Our Military Kids that helps military children do the things they love.
Gabriel’s wife, Callie, who also served in the Army, says the classes have helped Gabriel and Bubba, but dealing with her husband's PTSD is still a daily test.
“Every day is just a constant struggle, even though we have four beautiful children and we’re extremely blessed to have them,” Callie told FOX411 in their Edison, NJ, home. “When it comes to loud noises, we leave the door open because if we know that someone is coming over, people don’t ring the doorbell. Everything has to be organized so that way his train of thought doesn’t get off track.”
Gabriel is also helped by his service dog, a German Shepard named Rocky.
“Just him playing with me helps a lot, and being able to take him out and just have that time walking with him is really good for me,” Gabriel explained.
Taking Bubba to martial arts class also enables Gabriel to strengthen the bond with his son.
“I think it’s helped a lot because I never feel like I do enough for him, and being there in the karate class with him, it makes me feel
like I’m closer to him, especially at the end of class. They always tell them to run to the parents, and he just forgets his shoes and just runs straight to me instead of running to go get his shoes first. He’s just like ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!'" said Gabriel. "It's a good feeling."
Gabriel said being a veteran brings him pride, and when people recognize the sacrifice veterans make, it makes everyone feel better.
"A lot of people here are ignorant to what’s really going on within a veteran," he said. "Even if you just stop to say thank you or say hi ... they’ll be grateful for it.”
Seeing Gabriel’s daily struggle with PTSD weighs heavily on his wife, but she says there is hope ahead.
“When I see my husband go every single day crying and struggling, and not being able to walk outside, and not being able to deal with another [unemployment], but then he knows
he can take Bubba to martial arts class -- that’s a miracle.”