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L.A. Now Live: 'A soldier's wife,' behind the story

September 09, 2013

Times staff writer Christopher Goffard and photographer Rick Loomis followed the Woods family for a year and a half, documenting the challenges of an Iraq war veteran as he adjusts to returning home to his new wife.

The story, "A soldier's wife," offers an unflinching look at the toll of war on one Orange County couple. It is the story of Tom Woods, an Army sergeant and former race car driver from San Jose, and his wife, Candace Desmond-Woods.

PHOTOS: When a living casualty returns from war

Goffard and Loomis will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the story and their experience reporting it. Questions can be submitted live during the discussion, tweeted to @LANow or by commenting on this blog post.

Here's an excerpt:

One night her husband thought he was back in Iraq and tried to kick down the door of their home on Garden Gate Lane. He shouted something in Arabic she didn't understand. As a cavalry scout in Baghdad, he had crashed through countless doors on  nighttime raids. The "hard knock," he called it.

She clutched their infant son, afraid of her husband for the first time. She wouldn't let him in. He stared at her through the glass panes. Didn't he recognize her? He shoved, elbowed, punched. The lock began to buckle. The glass shattered.

It was February 2012. The war, her own small piece of it, had come rolling down the block the month before, in the form of a 22-foot Penske moving truck. Her newlywed husband was at the wheel, having crossed the country from Ft. Riley, Kan.

Candace Desmond-Woods told herself everything would be fine, now that he was out of the Army. Their lives as husband and wife would really begin in this white-fenced rental home in Irvine, a master-planned city where every manicured block was an argument against uncertainty.

The war would crash through her careful plans in a hundred ways, large and small. She watched it empty her refrigerator and shut off her gas. She came to feel like one of its strangest casualties, a widow with a living husband.

For more, read the full story: "A soldier's wife."

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