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KEEPING THE PROMISE

AZ military wife chosen as Elizabeth Dole Foundation fellow

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Valley military wife who overcame great odds to save her husband and her family was in Washington, D.C. Friday meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

Izabelle Gibson's mission is inspiring others to overcome their struggles.

Her husband, U.S. Marine Cpl. Alex Gibson, returned home from his 2003 tour in Iraq a changed man. It took three years for doctors to diagnose and start to treat Alex Gibson for post-traumatic stress disorder.

"One of the biggest triggers is kids," Alex Gibson said. "There were families out there crying and everything else, and they were trying to ask us for food, but we were told, 'Don't stop. Keep going. Don't give them food or nothing.'"

"He hides it pretty good. He's like, 'I'm strong. Nothing's wrong. I'm a Marine,' but inside he's shattered," Izabelle Gibson said.

"I did push them away because I didn't think they deserved the hell I'd been putting them through," Alex Gibson said.

For his wife, it wasn't an option to walk away from the love of her life or to raise their three girls without a father.

"I wasn't going to give up on him. So I would like to do the research, find things for us to do. I was like, 'This is my goal - this is what I'm going to do,'" Izabelle Gibson said.

Whether it's getting out of the house on a bad day, working out or playing together as a family, or encouraging her husband to express himself through his online blog, Izabelle Gibson said it's up to families to not just fix things but to save them.

"Don't give up. Don't give up on your veteran," Izabelle Gibson said.

Gibson is one of only two women in Arizona chosen as fellows for the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. She got to meet the First Lady on April 4 to form a new, national coalition for military caregivers focused on finding the best ways to help veterans and their families get the help they need.

The Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center or "Spofit" in Phoenix offers free memberships for veterans and active military, as well as their families.

They offer everything from free one-on-one rehab with trainers for Wounded Warriors, to state-of-the-art equipment and activities for able-bodied veterans, and childcare for families.

SpoFit hosted a saluting service day of play April 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for military families.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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