SHELBYVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Women’s History Month is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we stop celebrating the big contributions and accomplishments of women across central Illinois.
For one Shelbyville woman, life looked much different 15 years ago when her husband was serving overseas.
On May 5., 2006, hundreds of people and first-responders welcomed home troops as they made their way back to the National Guard Armory in Urbana.
In the crowd of hundreds was Laura Broughton.
“Yeah, there were some days that I thought was never going to end,” she says.
Her husband Monte was finally home after two years of fighting in Iraq — but their story starts long before that.
The two met in 1983.
“He saw me all the time outside,” she says.
“Got to saying ‘hi’,” Monte says. “Got to saying, ‘what are you doing Tuesday?'”
They married by 1985. Monte left again in 2008 for Afghanistan.
“It’s like becoming a single mother with 2 kids,” Laura says.
“They do without money here until my first army check comes in, and I quit the factory before even going to the army,” Monte says.
Laura started averaging 60 hours a week — all while raising a high school daughter and a son with autism.
“He’s not capable of taking a bath, feeding himself, taking any kind of care,” Monte says.
“That is a full-time job for somebody.
“Your day off: One day, you did laundry, shopping, and house cleaning. It gets to a point where you go hour-by-hour, day-by-day.”
Laura had some helping hands along the way, but nothing that could replace Monte’s presence.
With her husband thousands of miles away, tragedy hit at home.
“My dad was my best friend, and he died on my first deployment,” Monte says. “It was stressful.”
Sadness and stress turned into worry when Monte was hurt in Afghanistan.
“I’m down in Fort Knox. I’ve never been there,” Monte says. “I’m at the hospital. She calls me and asks for directions — I don’t know! Turns out she was there… she beat me there.”
Laura and Monte were reunited for good shortly after that — and 36 years later, still standing by each other’s sides.
“We do real well together,” she says.
“Together it’s more of a cruise,” Monte says. “I never met another girl who could’ve done what was required of her since 2001. It’s just incredible.”
The Broughton family now has free medical care thanks to Monte’s service. They say that makes a huge difference in caring for their son with autism.