By Kristen Early Associate Editor
February 24, 2017
Now, she’s found peace in their quiet property — 11 acres of wooded land where they are building a log home. And having a husband who has been in battle, someone who understands her post-war demons more than most, has brought her some peace. Hayel served two mandatory years in the Iranian Air Force during Iran’s war against Iraq.The story of how a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Iraq became the wife of a man born in Iran is complicated, to say the least.
How that same man came to the United States for the right to help others — and found God in the process — is powerful. When he met his future wife, she was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and the stigmas of being a female veteran.
Her first reaction to him: “He looked like a total terrorist to me.”
But her tone and the loving gaze the Mosheim couple shared as she said it proves how far Cindy Castle and Dr. Kamran Hayel have come since they first met while working at Johnson City’s Woodridge Hospital in 2006.
Castle hadn’t been home long from spending 18 months in Iraq, where she only felt safe when she was in a turret with a companion she called “Frank” — an M240 Bravo machine gun.
She was the only female in a 24-member Civil Affairs division and achieved the rank of sergeant; she’s proud of her service. Castle says she knew she wanted to enter as soon as she left high school. From there, she went to basic training, entered the Army Reserves and got her undergraduate degree in psychology at East Tennessee State University.
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