Friday, October 28, 2011

So Lonely

I'm sure most of you have experienced loneliness at some time in your life. 
Sometimes I sit here longing for a human connection.  My friends have their own lives, families, and activities.  My kids are gone.  I no longer have my students and co-workers to interact with throughout the day.  In the past I would have had papers to correct or lesson plans to write.  Children to drop off or pick up.  Someone wanting to watch a movie and share popcorn. 

I go on-line hoping to make a connection with someone, waiting to see who will comment or post.  It feels desperate and pathetic. 

Sean and I are in the same house but don't connect the way we used to.  Even when we are in the same room, many times he is somewhere else.

At times, he is getting better, trying more, and I'm the one pulling away.  Not because I don't want the attention, affection, or interaction, but because I'm so scared of the rejection that will come.   I don't want to let the feelings in because when this phase passes, and it always does, I will be devastated and feel even more alone.

Tonight he is in the basement again.  It is his refuge and safe place.  He has been working extremely hard on projects for the VFW and it is amazing to see him working on something he is passionate about again.  It exhausts him.  It takes all his time and energy to focus on the task in front of him.  He has put off training on his bike this week.  In fact, he hasn't really ridden in the last two or three weeks due to schedule changes and another sinus infection.  It illustrates for me what happens when we do not keep to his schedule, and how he is not able to divide his time effectively--it's all or nothing toward one goal.  Whatever he is focused on consumes him. 

He will be on a hunting trip next week and while I'm looking forward to the break and possibly sleeping through the night, I know I will be anxious while he is away.  I also know how much more I will feel alone. 

It's not that I don't have projects to work on, things to do.  It's more that empty space inside of me feels amplified when he is not here.  Partly residual from the numerous separations we have endured, and partly from being a caregiver and Sean being my "purpose."  When he isn't here, I don't quite know what to do with myself.

I know all about finding time for myself, and doing things I enjoy.  I'm not trying to feel sorry for myself.  I just needed to get it out tonight.

Sleep Disorders Associated with TBI and PTSD

No wonder we're not getting any sleep!

Sleep disorders plague vets with head trauma or PTSD

Sleep and Traumatic Brain Injury

Sean has sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.  When he is not medicated, he suffers from insomnia and has night terrors and night sweats.  His symptoms are somewhat reduced by medication.  His body twitches uncontrollably in his sleep. 

Brain Basics 3-D Model of Brain Injury

Brain Basics 3-D Model of Brain Injury

Cool interactive description of the brain and how it is affected by injury from

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When It Rains

This week has been a let down. 
Sean has to notify the VA of any drill days he serves during the year so the VA can recoup pay as he can't be paid for both at the same time.  The form was turned in this spring and in May we received a letter from the VA explaining how the deductions would be made, and when his full disability pay would be reinstated.

I made two phone calls to the VA to make sure I understood the amounts, dates, and how they figured his pay rate.  Both times I was assured the amounts and dates were correct.  His pay was to be reinstated at a normal rate in September, however, he only received 1/4 of his pay that month.  We worked with our FRC to investigate the discrepancy.  Turns out, the letter we received and BOTH VA employees I spoke to earlier this summer were incorrect.  The math was not calculated correctly in the letter.  We are having it investigated one more time, but the reality is, we probably won't ever see that pay.

We have been waiting and waiting for a response on the GI Bill and the remainder of Erin's tuition.  Finally, a response came, and would you believe it?  They gave us the wrong information!!  Every time we talked to them.  We were assured no less than four times that her program was covered, she would receive her tuition payments.  The school was told in April that she qualified and would be paid for her course starting in June.  The kicker is, you never get to talk to the same person when calling, so that means everyone I spoke with gave me the wrong information!  Yes, I'll work it back up the chain and see if they will pay, but not going to hold my breath.

That leaves me with a hefty bill to pay this week.  If it's not paid, Erin can't get her certificate/license.  She was offered a job, so it's critical to get this done ASAP. 

This is why life sometimes scares the shit out of me.  Last year we had a pay issue that took five months to fix.  When you have an employer you are paid on time and know what to expect.  It's easy to see how families end up losing everything when you can't rely on the entity that controls your income to A. do things right B. fix errors quickly and C. be consistent (unless you count making errors and giving incorrect information repeatedly as consistent).

Beyond the Battlefield--You MUST Read This

"Beyond the Battlefield" is a 10-part series by David Wood of the Huffington Post exploring the challenges that severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face after they return home, as well as what those struggles mean for those close to them.

If you read *one* post on this blog, make it this post.

An average of 18 suicides a day. . . 18 a day. . .

Think the war doesn't affect you? Look around. Do you know anyone who serves in the military? Anyone whose son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister serves? Is there a military base or Army Reserve or National Guard Armory in your community? Do they go your church? Do your children sit next to theirs in the classroom? Maybe you shop at the same store or eat in the same restaurant. You could be on the same plane home. Look around.

An average of 18 suicides a day. . . it affects all of us.

Sitting in the doctor's office listening to my husband tell the doctor he is feeling down lately and having suicidal thoughts again brings that number quickly to my head. 18 a day. . . How far is he from being another number in that statistic?

If you've never had to contemplate that and the news is the closest you've been to the war, count your blessings! Hopefully, after reading you will be moved to do a little more to help spread the word and save lives.

One mother says, "I gave him to the Army in the best physical condition of his life, and they gave him back to me in pieces." Oh, how true! My husband doesn't have a mark on him, but he is immesurably broken and struggling to hold it together.

Please, read on.

Part 1
Beyond The Battlefield: From A Decade Of War, An Endless Struggle For The Severely Wounded

Part 2
Beyond The Battlefield: With Better Technology And Training, Medics Saving More Lives

Part 3
Beyond The Battlefield: Lack Of Long-Term Care Can Lead To Tragic Ends For Wounded Veterans

Part 4
Beyond The Battlefield: Military Turning To Wounded Vets' Families As Key Part Of Healing Process

Part 5
Beyond the Battlefield: As Wounded Veterans Struggle To Recover, Caregivers Share The Pain

Part 6
Beyond The Battlefield: New Hope, But A Long And Painful Road, For Veterans Pulled From Death's Grasp

Part 7
Beyond The Battlefield: Back Home, Severely Wounded Veterans Wish More Would Ask, Not Just Stare

Part 8
Beyond The Battlefield: Unprepared For Wave Of Severely Wounded, Bureaucracy Still Catching Up

Part 9
Beyond The Battlefield: As Veterans Fight For Needed Care, Long-Term Funding Remains A Question Mark

Part 10
Beyond The Battlefield: Saved From The Brink Of Death, Veteran Keeps Chasing His Dreams

Rebuilding Soldiers Transformed by War Injuries
NPR interview with David Wood
"When you think about it, one of the things that we as a country are learning is that people who are wounded in war are wounded forever,"

You can access more articles and features here Beyond the Battlefield.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Worth Repeating

I received this from a friend and it touches my heart so deeply that I feel I must share it again.

Our troops were sent to war in Iraq and Afghanistan to counter a global threat of extremist Islam by Congress and two Presidential administrations. War bonds were not sold. Gas was not regulated. In fact, the average citizen was asked to sacrifice nothing, and has sacrificed nothing unless they have chosen to out of the goodness of their hearts. The only people who have sacrificed are the veterans and their families. The volunteers. The people who swore an oath, with their right hand held high, to defend this nation.

They stood there, deployment after deployment and fought on. They've lost relationships, spent years of their lives in extreme conditions, years apart from kids they'll never get back, and beaten their bodies in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand, whom America seems to idolize as "heroes". Through the media and popular culture, sports figures and celebrities have become larger than life figures, people who are paid millions of dollars to provide entertainment . The military is paid a very modest salary, and they only complain when congress says they are being paid too much.

These veterans come home to a nation that doesn't understand. They don’t understand that bad people exist out there that want to destroy this country. They look at military and veterans like they're a machine, like they're nothing – like something is wrong with them for wanting to hunt down and kill the enemy, an enemy that has seen fit to use suicide bombing and flying airplanes into buildings full of civilians as a way of "holy" war. Society will tell you that America hasn't suffered like the rest of the world has suffered. Society will tell you that because America hasn't suffered like Afghanistan, Palestine, and other places that have been war torn for years, that we have no right to act the way we are because we are a "young" country. Society will also tell you that America is the terrorist.

When they get out of the military, people who have never served sit in college classrooms with political science teachers that discount vet's opinions on Iraq and Afghanistan because THEY seem to know more about the “macro” issues they've gathered from books and their own dream world opinion. You watch TV shows where every vet has PTSD, and in reality some of these vets have it, and have it bad. Chances are one of the combat seasoned vets you know has it, and yet the majority of this country has the gall to look down on them when it's because of their sense of duty to protect this country is the reason why some of these men and women come home mentally and physically scarred.

Your Congress is debating their benefits, their retirement, and their pay (incredibly ironic when you look at the benefits package for anyone serving in the congress or senate) while they ask U.S. service members to do more. Do you want to know what the amazing thing is? Military members know ALL of this. They know their country will never pay them back for what they've given up. They know that the populace at large will never truly understand or appreciate what they have done for them. Hell, they know that in some circles, they will be thought as less than normal for having worn the uniform, in fact, demonized by some sects of American culture for ever taking a stand to terrorism and extremist Islam with a gun in their hand.

Guess what? These brave men and women do it anyway. They did what the greatest men and women of this country have done since this country was born in 1775 – THEY SERVED. Just that decision alone makes them part of an elite group. People who realize our freedom is at stake and took a stand, sacrificing in some cases, their lives, limbs, and eye sight for a country that will fully never understand their position, and they do it with a smile on their face. I am WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, AND I AM THE 0.45%!!!!!

(Written by and shared from a friend)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hazardous Exposures

Veterans can find information from the VA on Hazardous Exposures here.

VA Hazardous Exposures List

Military Research Money for Eye Trauma Caught in Cuts

Military research money for eye trauma caught in cuts
From USA Today

From our good friend Tom Zampieri at the BVA:

Some members of congress and a few committee staff on appropriations have decided to lump defense eye trauma research into general catagory of "other cuts!" Despite a hundred visits to various members of congress over the past five months, they went along with the cut, only one congressman, Jim Moran, (D Virginia) stood up and objected and said this is wrong!

Each of you please pick up the phone or send an email to your members of congress, both your senators, and the congressperson that represents you and demand they "increase eye trauma research within defense to not less than $5 million."  BVA had been asking for $10 million for six months, and was promised that, "Why of course, this is for our front line troops, anything at all we can do to help."

Everyone reading this I would point out that the military medical evacuation system is based on urgent to "Save Life, Limb, and Eye Sight!" Guess congress needs a reminder of that priority list.

It's Not Just Us, and It's Serious


Invisible injuries of war to be felt for decades
From Stars and Stripes
TBI Is Not Just Concussion
US Naval Institute

2010 Revised Handbook for Injured Service Members and Their Families

2010 Revised Handbook for Injured Service Members and Their Families

May have posted before, but worth repeating.

Videos You Need to See

Ally's Story - A Baby Girl, Her Hero Father, and a Life Cut Too Short by PTSD

Ally's mom is a friend of mine who lost her love too early in life due to PTSD.

Combat PTSD - What Loved Ones Should Know About Its Physical & Mental Impact

Video from Family of a Vet

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caregiver Village

Caregiver Village
Caregiver Village is designed for families who care for loved ones with ADD/ADHD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autism, cancer, depression, diabetes, general aging, general caregiving needs, heart disease, mental and developmental delays, mental/emotional illness, Parkinson’s, physical disabilities, stroke, surgery, injury or wounds, and war-related injuries. Caregiver Village is designed for you. (taken from

Please give Family of a Vet credit and help them earn a  $1.00 donation as one of their partner 501(c)3 non-profit organizations!

My Holiday Wish

My Holiday Wish

My Holiday Wish is in honor of my husband and hero!     

Hello, and thanks for checking out my Holiday Wish!

During this holiday season, I'm hoping my friends and family will join me to raise $500 for Help Heroes & Families Struggling with PTSD, TBI, & Life After Combat!.

I chose Help Heroes & Families Struggling with PTSD, TBI, & Life After Combat! because Family of a Vet is dedicated to helping heroes and their families learn how to cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury), and life after combat!.

Please consider giving to my Holiday Wish, and together we can help our nation's heroes and their families. If you can't afford to donate, I'd really appreciate if you'd share this page with your friends.

Thanks so much,


I'm asking for $10, or as much as you can afford.

Ally's Story - A Baby Girl, Her Hero Father, and a Life Cut Too Short by PTSD

Ally's Story - A Baby Girl, Her Hero Father, and a Life Cut Too Short by PTSD

There aren't words for this video... the story of a hero lost... of his 4-1/2 month old daughter, Ally... and of the dream he had (helping heroes like him) that now Ally and her mommy are carrying on. Please watch this, share this, and help Ally and her mommy see this hero's dream through.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

White Cane Safety Day is October 15th

White Cane Safety Day is a national observance in the United States celebrated on October 15th of each year since 1964. The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane.

Here are some tips as published by the BVA:

What to do When You See a Blind Person

When you address a blind person, identify yourself immediately so there is no mystery as to who you are.

Speak directly to a blind person so the individual can follow your voice.

Don’t assume that a blind person is unable to participate in certain activities. Let that person make the decision.

When guiding a blind person, offer your arm for assistance. A blind person can anticipate your movements by walking slightly behind you.

When you’re leaving … say so.

It’s okay to use words like “look,” “see,” and “blind.” Avoiding them may make a blind person self-conscious.

Offer understanding, consideration, and friendship to a blind person – not pity!

Caution a blind person about ascending or descending stairs, curbs, or obstacles.

Offer assistance when you see a blind person trying to cross a busy intersection, but don’t be discouraged by a “No, thank you.”

Offer to read newspapers, magazines, and other printed material for a blind person.

Let blind people speak for themselves – they don’t need interpreters.

When speaking to a blind person, don’t raise your voice. Remember, that person is blind, not deaf.

Don’t distract a guide dog from his main purpose of safely leading his master. Ask for permission before petting.

Guide Dog Etiquette from Guide Dogs for the Blind