Tag Archives: veteran suicide

Fireworks and This Combat Veteran

fireworksOk. I was wrong. The conclusion of my last blog has been blown out of the water. To be honest, I’m glad. I’m glad that most people are not living in fear and jumping at every car backfire.

As a combat veteran, there is a special way I go about enjoying fireworks every year with my family. It has a lot to do with grounding myself in reality and in the present. To do this, I use what I call a “grounding point”; something, anything that did not and could not have existed during my combat service. When I’m feeling uncomfortable, I reassure myself by looking at this thing.

This year my grounding point was my youngest daughter. To know her is to know happiness and joy. She has a smile for everyone. But the best part about her? She did not exist and in no way reflects my combat service. Therefore, if she is with me and I can see her, then I am grounded solidly in the present.

The fireworks this year started like any others. They were beautiful and one even looked like Saturn! How they do that is beyond me. Anyways, things were good. I had a little trouble, as always, with the flash bangs, those that go up and then just boom with a bright ball of light, but my daughter casually reached over and held my hand. A little extra “grounding”. And then, toward the end of the fireworks, someone thought it would be funny to set off some kind of firecrackers in the parking lot. Whatever these firecrackers were, they sounded exactly like automatic rifle fire. And they were coming not from the fireworks in front of me but from my right flank. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit that I freaked and all thought of any “grounding point” was gone.

I immediately began to assess the threat when I realized that my family was with me. What the hell were they doing here? Total confusion set it. The soldier in me wanted to move toward the threat to better assess yet the parent in me wanted to get my family out of there. How in the hell could I be both at the same time? All my life the two things had been separate. Any threats I had faced had been oceans away from my family. Two different worlds.
I looked around at the people around us only to find them happily watching the continuing fireworks show. No one else appeared threatened. As I was trying to process and understand this observation, the finale began. The continuous booms and flashing lights left me a huddled, confused mess on the blanket until it ended. I do believe we were the first ones out of the parking lot.

Once home, my daughter came in to talk to me. She told me that after those firecrackers in the parking lot, she couldn’t enjoy the rest of the show. She said that with everything going on in the world, she just felt like a target sitting out there on the grass.

So the threats aren’t oceans away anymore. They are here and her fear is real though it saddens me. No one else seemed concerned. Have I done this to her? And now I have to also wonder…how will I be able to continue to take my family to public places while the soldier wars with the parent leaving both unable to function?

And back to therapy I go…..

Why Taxpayers Should Cover PTSD Treatment for Veterans by Lori Barnes

DSC_0077Every veteran suicide just breaks my heart and makes me angry. I’ve been hearing recently that some in the medical and military communities are claiming that those coming home with PTSD must have been damaged in some way beforehand. I don’t agree. I think a lot of our soldiers coming home with PTSD had gentle, kind hearts to begin with that are now heavy with fear and guilt. They can’t help it. In America, for the most part, we all have kind, gentle lives. We aren’t war torn. We really don’t know what it’s like to fear for our lives and those of our children every day.

The military takes these basically kind people and puts them through basic training. They are all treated like dogs regardless of whom they are or where they come from. Once they are all at their lowest, the drill sergeants begin to bring them back up together to make them one cohesive unit, equal on all terms. This is necessary. Continue reading and add your comment

Sick at the VA by Lori Barnes

dsc_0164Over the past month, I have spent a total of nine days as a patient in the VA Hospital in Seattle. In the 17 years since I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I have spent time in military hospitals (both in the field and out), civilian hospitals, and now the VA. I have to say that the care I received in Seattle was extraordinary. It’s not just the providers, though they were all wonderful, but the whole atmosphere of concern, respect, and camaraderie. There’s nothing like it.

For those of you who are not familiar with Crohn’s Disease, it is an incurable inflammatory bowel disease that has chronic recurring periods of flare-ups and remission. Every day I strive to keep it in check, but every few years it comes back hard and I have to seek help to beat it back into remission. Like any good soldier, I fight the battle first on my own and seek reinforcements only once all appears lost. Sometimes, my “I can fix this myself” attitude gets me into serious trouble. This was one of those times. By waiting so long to get medical care, I had allowed a seven-inch bleeding laceration into my colon. The docs said it looked like a bear claw had swiped through allowing all kinds of nasty germs to grow.

Let’s be honest here. When a civilian sees their blood leaving their body, Continue reading and add your comment