HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — The navy lifestyle wasn’t one thing that crossed the thoughts of Jennifer Ballou as a little bit lady in Mentor, Ohio, a metropolis about half-hour northeast of Cleveland.

“I all the time thought that I wished to be a nurse,” she mentioned.

Ballou mentioned a lady she labored with at a part-time job in her senior yr of highschool had signed up with the U.S. Military. After some deliberation, she did too.

“After I began to be taught extra concerning the navy and the Military particularly, and started to grasp what it provided, that grew to become very interesting to me,” Ballou mentioned.

The younger lady from Ohio packed up and headed to fundamental coaching so she might chase a dream within the healthcare discipline. It was awhile after that when stationed in Vicenza, Italy, that she met a person who would change her life without end, Eddie Loredo, an Infantryman within the Military.

“After I met Eddie, I used to be a single guardian of my oldest daughter stationed in Vicenza, Italy,” she mentioned. “My profession and elevating my daughter have been on the forefront of my thoughts and I did not have time for the rest.”

Jennifer mentioned Eddie charmed her, made her chuckle and was all the things she by no means thought she was on the lookout for.

“He had this vitality about him and it lit up a room,” she mentioned. “He was comfortable from the second he awakened within the morning to when he went to mattress. He was simply comfortable to be alive each single day.”

As an Infantryman she mentioned he was gone loads and so they spent their fair proportion of time aside. However she knew, and Eddie knew, that they wished to spend their lives collectively. They have been married in early 2007.

Their lives collectively took them from Italy to Fort Bragg, NC earlier than the each of them have been deployed to Afghanistan. Eddie in la,e 2009 and Jennifer in 2010. Simply six weeks into her deployment, the unthinkable occurred.

“He was on a patrol and when he dismounted, an IED exploded,” Jennifer mentioned. “And instantly he misplaced his left leg and was nonetheless alive however they encountered the enemy and could not get him out of there as rapidly as they might have favored.”

Jennifer mentioned Eddie was a fighter and he fought exhausting that June day within the Afghanistan desert, however it wasn’t sufficient.

“I had little question in my thoughts that he was going to drag via,” she mentioned, acknowledging that they each knew a day like this was a risk. “I bear in mind pondering on the aircraft journey there that Eddie was going to be that soldier was working the ten-miler in a few years with one leg.”

Eddie died earlier than Jennifer might get to him, simply minutes earlier than his thirty fifth birthday.

She admitted that the years following Eddie’s dying have been exhausting. She had her moments however she was in a position to pull herself via.

She is now serving to others who simply have not been capable of finding life’s that means within the shadow of darkness.

“I work with ladies veterans and navy households and assist them navigate via modifications of their life whereas dwelling a complete and comfortable life,” she mentioned.

She’s doing it via a enterprise she began in 2018 known as, ‘A Joyful Life with Jennifer.’ This enterprise provides an opportunity to attach with, assist and be the hand many individuals want after they aren’t positive the place else to show.

Ballou mentioned when she would share her story of affection and loss with Eddie, it made her notice that she might use her voice for one thing good, highly effective and to make distinction in a small tight-knit fraternity that nobody asks to hitch.

“I’ve seen so many individuals, troopers and their households, Gold Star households who simply crumbled. Who struggled, who could not discover it to maneuver ahead,” Ballou mentioned. “I’ve a message to share and as uncomfortable as it’s or as scary as it’s, with the ability to assist others makes it value it.”

Ballou is now an authorized life coach, registered yoga teacher and mentioned she is finishing her life’s work to assist others who want it, a want first sparked as a little bit lady when she wished to be a nurse.

One of many teachings Ballou instills in these she speaks with is the thought of resiliency and bouncing again, a lesson she realized whereas within the Military.

“We used to have a tennis ball that we’d use to type of reveal that that is what resilience is however we’d all the time have these model new sparkly tennis balls and I might say that this is not resilience,” she mentioned.

Ballou mentioned resilience is the tennis ball with the chunks out of it and the black nicks on it as a result of that resembled the bumps and bruises of real-life adversity, ache, loss and despair.

“You may even be on the bottom for awhile you won’t bounce proper again up,” Ballou mentioned, admitting that that is okay and is predicted. “It is about taking that one step once you really feel prepared and in a position, then two steps in addition to reaching out to your left and your proper and grabbing onto these folks which are subsequent to you which are keen that can assist you.”

Ballou mentioned she has married once more. She tied the knot along with her husband Omari nearly three years in the past, one other factor she by no means thought she’d do once more.

Ballou mentioned she discovered a researcher, professor, lecturer and writer named Brené Brown who helped her on her journey of accepting, therapeutic and coping with grief.

“One of many issues she says is that so as to really feel the nice feelings, the love, the happiness, the enjoyment, we have now to permit ourselves the robust feelings,” she mentioned. “As soon as I allowed myself to take care of the exhausting stuff, it opened the door to a lot magnificence and a lot love. As exhausting because it was I’m so glad that I did that.”

In case you or somebody is a navy household or a feminine veteran that wants assist and steerage, Jennifer Ballou has requested that you simply attain out to her via email, her website or via Facebook.

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