To the US Army bureaucracy, love means little without a marriage certificate—so the fiancée of a man killed in Iraq was left with nothing other than what his family was willing to part with. Now, the Washington Post reports, Kyle Harper, 27, is trying to forge a path very different from what she and Sgt. Michael Hullender had planned.
Harper treasures the ring Hullender gave her. But as his fiancée, she wasn’t entitled to grief counseling or even officially notified of his death. Her request for Hullender’s dog tags caused a rift with his father. Harper found solace in emailing others in similar situations; now she’s working as a grief counselor. “I still think about him every day,” she says, “but that can’t be all that I am.”