// THE WALL STREET JOURNAL //
"Ian Welch was on his first combat tour in Iraq, waiting to storm across the Diyala Bridge and seize Baghdad, when an artillery round exploded behind him--changing his life forever. Now he and his girlfriend Katie are hoping love can change it back."
Mr. Welch began his first day of boot camp on September 10, 2001, at age 18. He served three tours in Iraq as an infantry rifleman in the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment between 2003 and 2005. During this time he was present for the taking of the Diyala Bridge in southeastern Baghdad and both Battles of Fallujah. During the battle for Diyala Bridge Mr. Welch was thrown by the blast of an enemy 155mm artillery shell causing a traumatic brain injury, that was diagnosed later in 2006. He was formally discharged in 2010 after serving his final two years in the Wounded Warrior Battalion in Camp Pendleton.
Mr. Welch is considered 100% disabled due to his diagnosis of PTSD and TBI. In November 2011 he and his girlfriend, Katie Brickman, 23, moved from Willoughby, OH, to Dallas, TX, for the care of the Dallas VA Hospital. Ms. Brickman is Mr. Welch's caregiver through the Department of Veterans Affairs Caregiver Support Program.
This selection of photographs, taken in the winter of 2011 for a multimedia presentation produced by the Wall Street Journal, show Ian and Katie as they began their fight for healing armed with love and the strength of one another.