Politicians Earn Stripes?

This blog stays neutral with regard to politics but the OEF and OIF wars must become part of the dialogue between the Republicans and the Democrats this election.  If we want Americans to become outraged about the loss of life and the costs of war so that they begin asking louder questions, then perhaps we should start funding it in a way that people notice.  How about another 20% of our paychecks going to fund these wars?  Would that make us mad enough to march on Washington and demand America pull out?  The average American on the street doesn’t even seem to KNOW that we lost so many lives last week; much less lose any sleep over it.  Americans may decide to take notice if the things they love to buy in abundance aren’t so available anymore.  Gas lines anyone?  How about a 48 hours special every week on the lives being lost?  How about a little news coverage on the troops watching the olympics NBC? I didn’t expect much from NBC, but I expected a little something more that what I saw.

During the Olympics I watched a trailer for a television event that will air this evening called “Stars Earn Stripes”.  It appears to have a lineup of B and C celebrities who will be showing those who bother to watch the show the daily heroics that go into being active military.

Wouldn’t this show be a lot more entertaining if it were called “Politicians Earn Stripes”?  I want to see the candidates and members of congress (those who have a military background are exempt as it wouldn’t be very entertaining)  in this event.  You want ratings?  I would pay to see this on the screen.

So in order to find meaning and strength this week so that I could let go of the extended sarcasm printed above, Zenning up for me this week looked like this.  Traded the anger, sarcasm and helplessness I was feeling with an e-mail to Give An Hour™ to see if I could assist them in setting up an info table at the Veteran’s Festival over Labor Day weekend.  Pack a box for my son’s friend who just deployed for the umpteenth time.   It was all I could do.  I was powerless, angry and simply sad.

The names of the dead that have been announced since my last posting are out there. say them out loud please today.   Some were senior officers with children, parents, spouses and grandparents left behind.  4 generations will suffer the loss.



Olives and Father’s Day

P1030342With papa at the grill

I shop for food.  Lots.  Cooking is my passion. My parents were chefs.  My father loves nothing more than to make me surf and turf when I visit.  My son loves his papa’s surf and turf.  My weekly boxes of “stuff” that get sent when he’s deployed don’t include surf and turf. I cook fresh and local so it doesn’t exactly mail well over there.  So I find odd items that I know he’ll like and send him those instead, with the occasional vegan cookie or energy date bar without sugar.  YUM!  My mom sends me healthy stuff, lucky me, I imagine him saying as he watches the cookies and candy come in from other parents.  His father makes him homemade beef jerky.  How cool is that?

He won’t tell me what to send him.  This is maddening for me and the rest of the family. The only things he’s really talked much about are the single serving packaged olives that I sent him once and the Trader Joe’s Panang Curry Tuna that goes into each and every box.  The olives I was only privileged to find once in my weekly excursions.  So this week when I happened upon them I bought the entire display.  For future deployments.  The entire display. For future deployments.  Seems unfair that only a few families have to endure the continuous cycle of deployment. With only one percent of the U.S. population in the military, this is the sacrifice.

We think differently.  “I’ll buy this for the next one”.  The next one.  Think about that statement for a while.  We get to put our hands on our kids for a moment in time only to send them back again within a couple of months.  People look at me like I have 3 heads when I try to explain to them that his work requires him to be there continuously and that he feels compelled to DO the work.  The work matters.  It makes a difference that he’s there.  I thought about deployment when he enlisted, knew it was the reality of this life.  I must admit I didn’t expect to endure deployment over and over again.  I wonder how his body will continue to hold up under the physical and emotional toll that these deployments take on a human being. I worry about cancer from the chemicals and the exposure to the elements.  I worry about crashes on the ground and in the air.  I worry about his nutrition, his emotions and most of all I worry that he’ll not a find a good woman who understands his lifestyle in the military to share his life with. Someone else to send him boxes of stuff and notice when he says “I really liked the olive packs”.

How many mothers do you know instruct their sons to BANK YOUR SPERM, just in case the right woman never shows up, this way you can still experience fatherhood.  I worry about infertility.  This comes from being an oncology social worker AND a military mom. Happy father’s day to all the military Zen dads out there.  Send a box of stuff this week to a deployed dad you don’t know. They’ll appreciate it.


http://www.loveboxesforourtroops.com                                     Peace, love and little donuts,

The Comfort of Peace, Balance and Taking Notice

Our family has had nearly one week of settling into the comforting news that our boy is home.  In two weeks we’ll actually be able to put our hands on him.  He’ll look different, because he is different.  War changes you.  He is a healthy, stable young man who loves his work, but war changes you.

I learned a lot from watching him go away and come back and then go away again and come back in such a short amount of time.  He taught me more about perseverance and about how our lives here on earth are just too short, simply by sharing with me his attitude about life and death as well as life and work after  his friend and a beloved colonel were killed within one week of each other.   A wise man once said, when you work a job you love, you never work a day in your life.  When you find work that integrates your talent and your passion, you have a near perfect combination for a happy, healthy work life balance.  As difficult as the losses were for him, they motivated him, and in turn motivated me to make some changes to ensure that my remaining life was one of healthy balance.

As difficult as the conflict in the middle east is for those of us living with the stress of it in our own homes, I find comfort in knowing that he wants to do this work and that he feels passionate about it.  How many people really get to say that about their jobs?

As my son got ready to board his first plane home last week, I received the news from TriCare that I was now a provider.  TriCare certainly isn’t an easy insurance to manage as a therapist.  The reimbursement rate won’t make you want to leap into their pool of providers.  But knowing that I’m providing a service to families who need support certainly gives me a way to Zen up and be strong while he’s away.  In two or three short months the dread will be back as we count the socks left in the sock drawer and begin the cycle of deployment all over again. We aren’t the only families affected by the cycle, but we feel pretty alone due to where we live.  I don’t see any American flags hanging in my neighborhood.  When he goes away again, I’ll need to constantly find other ways to Zen up as a military mom.  Due to the changes I’ve made in my life, I have more peace of mind and more energy to help other military parents endure the cycle. My own coping skills are being sharpened with every deployment.  I have my son to thank for motivating me to seek a healthier life in my work and in my personal relationships.  His service forces me to take notice when I see a student walking across campus in BDU’s or a veteran wearing his unit cap in Starbucks on the anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy (which by the way was Wednesday).  If you didn’t notice it, it isn’t too late to thank a vet or put the Got Your Six logo on your Facebook page to honor the over 1.5 million living veterans of WW II.  Find your own unique act of service this summer.     www.gotyour6.org  Bridging the civilian-military divide

My boy