Veterans often have to learn how to cope with injuries from their time in combat. Major life-changing physical disabilities are a struggle, but so are the major life-changing mental disabilities. These invisible injuries afflict far too many veterans, and Carlos Urbina is one of them. With the help of his wife and caregiver Sharon, Carlos is surviving his mental health issues. He’s also surviving fatherhood, with the help of Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd.
Carlos Urbina joined the Marines as a teenager, mostly he says for the snappy dress blues. “What made me really want to go in there, to be honest with you, was the uniform, Carlos said in an interview with the TODAY show.
He was deployed to Iraq, served 16 years in that uniform—including three combat tours. When he got back he experienced something familiar to far too many veterans—mental health issues.
“I started feeling ashamed and guilty and depressed and I didn’t know why,” Carlos said. He didn’t realize it at the time, but those gnawing feelings were the beginnings of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In between combat tours, Carlos met a woman at college named Sharon and they started dating. The couple wed after Carlos’ second deployment and according to Sharon, that’s when she realized something was wrong.
“He was quicker to anger, he didn’t like to be in crowds, he was up a lot at night,” Sharon said. She struggled to get him to come to terms with his mental illness and eventually became her husband’s full-time caregiver and biggest cheerleader.
“I gave up on myself and I gave up on the idea of ever being happy.” Carlos said. “She pulled me through.”
Carlos and Sharon used their experience to help other veterans cope with mental health issues. Sharon was named a “Hidden Hero” fellow of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which recognizes military caregivers for their service to men and women in uniform and she does advocacy work on their behalf.
With Carlos in a better place with his mental health, the couple started a family. A baby daughter recently joined the Urbina family and Carlos couldn’t be happier.
The TODAY show wanted to reward Carlos and Sharon’s work and help out their new family, and they got some help from celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. The couple donated a year’s supply of baby products to the Urbinas and Carlos was speechless.
“Carlos and Sharon we were so moved by your story,” Bell said. “Thank you so much for you service—as a caregiver, as a veteran.”
The two celebs—who have two rug rats of their own—recently started a line of baby products called Hello Bello. They announced that going forward all active and retired military members would get a discount on their products.
“We have been trying to think of a way we can save thank you to servicemen and women who have fought to keep this country that we love safe,” Shepherd said. “We have decided to slash prices at HelloBello.com for all active or retired servicemen and women.”