On Veterans Day, we remember and honor the sacrifice of our country’s heroes who return from war. Despite all he’s been through, one disabled Iraq war veteran continues to fight to have his family by his side in Texas.
“When you sit here for hours and hours, or days in the same place, listening to a fan or maybe a clock. That’s it. You drive… you’re on the verge of insanity,” said 32-year-old Robert Grandstaff.
The retired Army sergeant is still fighting for freedom. Freedom from his physical and emotional pain.
“I just have to keep waiting, that’s all I’ve got used to doing,” he said. “That’s the hardest part of all. Sitting in a dark apartment just with my thoughts.”
The Florida native is confined to his home, a single-story apartment, consumed by thoughts about his wife and children who are across the border in Monterrey, Mexico.
The distance from his family is at the root of his suffering.
In May 2015, Grandstaff’s Mexican wife Daniela was banned for 5 years from entering the U.S. after a Customs and Border Protection agent determined she was living in Texas while on a tourist visa.
Daniela claims she would only cross the border to have her car serviced and visit her husband.
Two months after the ban, the couple met at the international bridge to get married.
Because of Grandstaff’s disability, Daniela began to care for his children in Mexico while he fought the government to appeal the ban and petition his new wife to become a U.S. resident.
“She’s very important to them and very important to this family,” added Grandstaff.
After 2.5 years of uncertainty, they successfully appealed the ban in October.
However, there was another problem. There are no appointments available at their designated consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to continue the petition process.
Grandstaff often writes to his senators and congressman in frustration as he runs out of patience, waiting for a resolution.
“Listen. Just listen. That’s all I want,” said Grandstaff, hoping someone will help him.
The Iraq war veteran takes 40 pills a day to cope with physical injuries he suffered from multiple blasts while in combat.
The constant trips to the doctor keep him from being able to visit Mexico as often as he would like.
For now, long-distance video calls with his wife and kids will have to do.
“It’s like people over here take their families, their freedoms, their lives for granted,” he said.
The soldier continues his struggle for happiness, torn between two countries.
“My body may be here, but my heart is not.”