Soldiers, Contractors and the Killing of Hope

crossposting from qoftu.com

I typically post this stuff elsewhere but this is something I couldn’t get off my mind since the Op Ed from Erik Prince. Some segments of our society would like you to think that sending mercenaries into Afghanistan equates to privately funded space exploration. They would be wrong. The continued trickle of soldiers and […]

via Soldiers, Contractors and the Killing Of Hope — Queen of the Universe

Advertisements

#HurricaneIrma Evacuation for Veterans

hurricanes

 

Hey Tampa friends-time to brace for impact.  The storm has shifted and it looks like you will be the first direct impact then she heads up to the Panhandle to us.  We got this.

Something to remember if you are an evacuee and you are a Veteran, you can go to your nearest VA for care.  More information on that is available HERE.

There is a list of Florida shelters by county HERE.

Middle Georgia has quite a few shelters and they are listed by county HERE.

A list of Alabama shelters is HERE and it includes livestock shelters.

Keep a running list of things to do and accomplish so that your Veteran can stay busy and hopefully avoid the triggers for a bit longer that this siuation will eventually irritate.

If you have not been able to locate something you are looking for, you are welcomed to email me at contact AT michellesimpson DOT net and let me know what it is.  I will work to find it for you.

REMEMBER:

Wash your laundry and dishes and keep this up-we don’t know when power will be back up and once your hot water tank runs out, that’s it.

Fill up your water bottles, ice tea pitchers and canning jars with tap water for drinking.  Fill your bathtub with water in the event they have to shut down the water system, this can be used to fill the toilet tank to flush.  If you have a green upright rolling recycle bin, you can also fill this for the same purpose.

Cook what you have in the freezer.  If you can’t eat it all, divide it into containers and bags and put it back in the freezer.  This can be used as cool packs for the ice chest and as it thaws you can use it for food.

If you have a grill, move it to your garage. You can cook on this with the garage door cracked after the storm is over.

Take care and check in when this is past!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What A Year

I have sat down a million times to write my thoughts down since the election.  Some how, I still can not find the words.

 

I spent much of the month of November crying and much of the time since has become a blur of lies, stress and concern for the direction of our nation.  My Veteran is increasingly resistant to even leaving the house for fear of an argument with a Nazi that results in him getting arrested.  No matter your political affiliation, if you don’t have serious reservations about the direction of this Administration, then I can’t help you because you are already that lost.

 

Once the symptoms had progressed for my Veteran so much that we were cancelling any public events or interactions for him, I was able to get him into another outpatient program.  Sadly, along with the current Administrations belief that privatization will solve everything, he was placed in a facility that had very few Veterans.  The bulk of the group were people with a variety of addictions that eventually caused a strain on the class and security issues.  He was unable to complete the program.

 

Since then, it has been varying scenarios of the same nature.  He can not watch the news, he doesn’t trust one single person in Congress to do what is right any more and he would rather not live here.  Since we haven’t won the lottery, what are our options?

 

I hope that each of you are finding better ways to cope.  Is there something that helps most?  Have you had to change your life radically?

 

I hope you are finding peace while we are looking for it too.

Happy New Year’s Eve! (Look out for a Veteran)

colorfulfireworks

What a year.  Seriously.  In our house, we are really ready for 2016 to be over.  At this time of year, I am always hyper aware of how difficult this evening can be for Veterans to get through so I thought I would post our top five ways to get through the night.

  1.  Listen to music:  Headphones in the ears with your favorite music can really help ease the noise and the triggers the noise creates.  Whether you opt to jam or meditate, choose a playlist for tonight that will help you feel groovy.  Here is one I made if you have Spotify.
  2. Hug a pillow:  This may seem strange but one of my Veterans biggest triggers is the vibration, particularly from unruly neighbors that shoot them off near our house.  Body pillows are cheap and holding one to your chest can minimize the shaking feeling.
  3. Watch a movie:  We usually opt for an action movie right as the sun begins to go down.  This gives the drunk bozos a good hour and a half to set off their fireworks and depending how into it you are, you will barely notice the noise because of everything going on.  If you have surround sound, this is 100 times better because it then just seems like background noise. (Best thing we have ever purchased)
  4. Eat your feelings:  This is one that I got from an Occupational Therapist.  If you can tolerate crunchy things, make a NYE bowl.  Depending on your preference for salty or sweet, fill it with items that are crunchy when you eat them.  This is a perfect pairing with the movie because you are desensitizing yourself to the noise in your ears at the same time as keeping occupied.  Ours consist of crunchy pickles, carrots, nuts, cheese and some sort of chip or cracker.
  5. Practice patience:  Once the flurry of war fails to be the lead story on the news any longer, people just don’t take it into consideration.  We are less than 3% of the population and on your block, I bet there are many people who don’t even know anything about what we go through on these holidays.  You can put out a sign, you can ask people not to do it or you can call the cops when they do (we have had to do this) but ultimately, the day will pass and life will go on.  If you can try to handle it better each year, there may be a time when you don’t even notice what is happening any more.

We can dream, right?

No one appreciates warriors until the enemy knocks at the gates.

Here is hoping you and yours have a lovely transition to 2017 and we make it the most amazing adventure.  That’s what I am hoping for any way…

Resource Update: A NOTE OF THANKS

WHAT A SUMMER!  Really, what a year 2016 has been.  Does it feel unusually long or is it just me?

We have been crazy busy and that generally doesn’t mesh well with appointments but we managed to pull off a few fun things this year.  I think we all actually were grateful when school started this year so that things would just settle down!
One of reg awesome things we got to do was to take Little Monkey to a concert thanks to an organization called A Note Of Thanks.  This group gets concert tickets for Veterans so they can enjoy a show without having to incur the cost.  Initially we tried to take her to see Kelly Clarkson/Pentatonix but it didn’t work out.  The tickets we ended up getting were for Nick Jonas/Demi Lovato which I would have to say may be ::slightly:: better.  We had so much fun!
demi-lovoto
We had pretty great seats.  No I know you must be thinking “how does a Vet do a concert that big?”  I get it.  The way we approach this as with all things is very carefully.  Fortunately, my husband remembered that he had these awesome earplugs he had been fitted with at the VA.  He took those along:
ear plugs.png
The earplugs are noise canceling after a certain decibel and when the crowd or the band were too loud, they just shut off periodically.  This was a HUGE help for the anxiety and stress that crowds can provide in these situations for my Veteran.   We also paid to upgrade to the VIP parking.  BEST DECISION EVER.  Not only was the lot right next to a private entrance to the venue but when pulling out of the lot, the attendants stop traffic on the main road to let everyone out.  This reduced a great deal of the anxiety my Veteran would normally have with the piling out-of-doors or traffic.
Both Nick and Demi were amazing.  While I wouldn’t have gone on my own, it was a great experience to share that with my daughter.  She had a permanent smile for days and having mom and dad enjoy it as well was icing on the cake.  We were blessed to be in Orlando and the special guest was the amazing Andra Day to sing for a memorial to the people who were killed in the nightclub shooting there.  It was moving and haunting and I was so glad we were there to witness this profound moment.
aundra-day
I can’t say enough about the amazing day or the kindness of A Note Of Thanks.  If there is a show coming near you, check them out.  You could end up with the experience of a lifetime!  You can do it, you just have to make a plan.
I hope your day is fantastic!

Resource Update: Soldiers’ Angels

Mother's Day cardsThere are so many organizations that do such great things.  Honestly, I could post something every day and not be able to catch up with everyone I want to mention.  Today I am posting this group, even if I have spoken about them in the past, because they are always there when I need them.

Soldiers’ Angels does so many amazing things.  Throughout the year, I get resources, supportive messages and connected to programs through them that are life altering.

This past week I had to have oral surgery.  I have put it off for over a year because my being down always presents problems in the house.  While everyone is capable enough to handle things, there inevitably is a freak out over the sheer VOLUME that I handle regularly.  An over-worked mom, imagine that?  My face is more bruised than I thought it would be, the pain isn’t completely quelled by the pain medications and I just wish I could help out more without feeling wobbly every time I stand up.  With an upcoming holiday, every one was even more stressed about how to modify the typical celebration because of what is happening for me right now.  My saying “no big deal” wasn’t being heard.

In the midst of the uproar, I started receiving a stack of cards.  It always slips my mind but when they start showing up, it is whole heartedly welcomed.  One of the outreach groups for Soldiers’ Angels is sending cards.  There are birthday, anniversary and Mother’s Day cards and even Father’s Day cards for my Veteran.  It is the sweetest gesture that means more than I could ever possibly explain to each of these sweet people.  It gives me a big hug and a chance to take a break for something that is just for me.

I urge you to check out Soldiers’ Angels.  If you are not in need of one of their services, they are an amazing organization to get involved with.

For now I am off to more ice packs and liquid diet.  YEAH me!

The Odyssey and the Agony

sunrise jax

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we applied for a couple’s Project Odyssey through Wounded Warrior Project.  As we have attended other similar events, we did expect some type of group therapy discussions.

We were housed at the beautiful TPA Saltgrass Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach (I highly recommend the Fried Green Tomato Pimento Cheese Sandwich if you are ever in town).  The folks at this Marriott were beyond kind and went out of their way over the couple of days to make sure we had what we needed.  This location caters to corporate meetings and they have a Starbucks located inside.  How genius is that?

The staff from WWP were great.  Their intent was to facilitate all kinds of discussions through thoughtful discussion, art projects and bonding exercises.  As with most groups of military families, this can devolve into herding cats.  A lot has been going on in their corporate offices and they handled it well.

I am not a big fan of team building exercises (in corporate environments I have seen the quickly go awry).  A similar thing happened on this venture but with a lot more emotion.  On our first day we were kind of thrown into tandem kayaks with no instruction and told, go to this point down river.

What a mess.

Our guide was knowledgeable, the area was beautiful and my Veteran had the most epic melt down in the history of melt downs out in the middle of the water.  In retrospect, it was HILARIOUS, but at the time it didn’t feel like it.  We had to work through some things for sure but I could have done without the trial by fire.

The next day was a team exercise where half of us were blindfolded and had to come from a room off the larger area into a place where the other half was to make us sit in chairs but no one could talk.  In preparation, my team half developed more than one plan cheerfully and were ready to go.  My Veterans team half apparently fought the entire time.

What happened next was even worse.

Being unable to see and have people grabbing on you brings up all kinds of issues.  Whether you are a Veteran or not, if you have trust issues or space issues or all of the above from a trauma, this reignited all of that.  To say that there was some emotion and crying is an understatement.beach backpack task

The next day’s beach activities were much more beneficial.  Everyone worked together and felt supported.  It was nice to see.

We have talked often since about whether we would have participated had we known any of this in advance and I am not sure.  They don’t give a schedule so you are forced to roll with it but that resulted in being ill prepared wardrobe wise and very stressed when it came to times for medications.

It could hbeach task2ave been handled better.

The results, however, are hard to argue with.  There were conversations that needed to be had that finally started.  There were plans to be made that finally were.  There was thoughtful consideration of personal goals which had been lacking.  I am glad for the experience of it but not sure I would recommend it for everyone.  If you aren’t in the right head space for that or not in the place in your relationship where you are ready to work on things, you would be miserable.

Fair warning.