"I just couldn't accept what we were being told by the VA," says Marissa Behee.
Behee is not a soldier, but she's one of the fiercest warriors of the Iraq War. Ever since her husband, Staff Sgt. Jarod Behee, was shot in the head, she has been fighting for him — and against a Veterans Administration she says was unprepared for the needs of grievously wounded soldiers.
"It's not just Jarod. I mean, he's one of how many that are coming home with a signature head wound. There are so many more out there, and this cannot continue to happen to all those people coming home," she says.
A sniper's bullet drove fragments of Jarod's skull deep into his brain. He probably would not have survived in an earlier war, according to Dr. Rocco Armondo.
"It felt like we were just in this holding pattern and our next step in their book was a nursing home," she said. "To me, that wasn't a great plan."
On her own, Marissa found Casa Colina, a private rehabilitation hospital in southern California.
Marissa says she saw a change in Jarod immediately.
"We went from three months at the VA telling us that Jarod can't do this, he can't do that. Then we came here and they got him on his feet and tried walking him around the gym, just to see what he was capable of and to know what they had to work on."
How did it feel to Jarod?
"It felt great," he says. "I was actually getting therapy."
Despite his brain injury, Jarod was capable of walking and more; he was able to work as a hospital assistant. Had Marissa not been so persistent, she says, Jarod "would be sitting in a nursing home right now."
With her battle won, Marissa went to work on a Web site to tell other families what Casa Colina had done for her husband.
"They told us 'Never give up. Remember Sgt. Behee,'" says Jenny Breist, whose husband, Corey, had also suffered a devastating head wound..
"We didn't know who Sgt. Behee was," Jenny says, "so we just Googled 'Sgt. Behee' and his Web site came up. His wife, Marissa, had on there, 'Any injury soldiers' families, please contact me.'"
Corey was in a different VA hospital, but his wife was fighting the same battle for more therapy. She found it when Marissa pointed her to Casa Colina.
"It's just unbelievable," says Jenny. "The first week you could tell huge differences in Corey."
Corey remains severely handicapped, but he is out of the hospital and once again a father to his children.
"My biggest wish in life was just to have him be at home with his family. And it's happened," says Jenny.
But it wouldn't have happened if two young wives hadn't gone to war against the VA.
"He would be sitting in a nursing home right now," Jenny said.