Old Glory

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

PTSD... Taking too many too soon

I have been sadly aware of PTSD http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder since this horrible war began, but nothing like when Chad was killed.  I have watched some of his closets friends struggle with this (mostly in private) disease.  I heard from a Veteran and friend today that he met several Gold Star Moms http://www.goldstarmoms.com/ that lost their sons (Marines) to suicide as a result of PTSD.  That saddens me beyond words.

This friend of mine (to remain nameless as I didn't get his permission to use his name) is working to get a non-profit together to help these young men and women suffering with this disease.  I know it takes time and a lot of red tape to get one started, but it's a start.  It is truly a silent killer, I believe.

He did tell me of a couple of organizations that are out there currently to help such as RWB http://www.teamrwb.org/ and The Mission Continues http://missioncontinues.org/, but these guys can't do it alone.  There are too many of our men and women suffering out there and we as a Nation need to be concerned and care enough to get involved. 

Last night I saw a very cool story about a band "Band of Brothers" http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-57611639/band-of-brothers/ where a rock and roll legend, Roger Walters of Pink Floyd, saw a need and understood or believed that music can be a healer and pulled together a group of wounded warriors to great this band.  These guys are amputees, double amputees, triple amputees, and so on.  They either play an instrument or sing or both.  I encourage you to check them out.  It is an amazing story and will give you chills and maybe even cause a little "awesomeness" to leak out of your eyes when you hear their story and see what the healing power of music is doing for these guys.  Thank you, Roger Walters, for having a vision and making a difference. 

I wish I could take each and every military member suffering with PTSD http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder and wrap my arms around them and tell them we are truly here for them.  That is the very least we can do for these fine men and women who sacrifice and endure so much for us.  Make it more personal if you have to.  They have sacrificed, endured, and seen more horrific things than a person (especially with most of these being 18 to early to mid 20's) should have to experience in a lifetime for ME.  They did this for ME and YOU!  We should all be asking ourselves, what can I do for THEM!

I challenge you to get outside your comfort zone and be willing to offer a helping hand.  It doesn't have to cost you anything, but a little time a hug or a smile or a conversation.  I believe we are all capable of doing that.

Something I think about at times like this is when I hear or see people get so emotional when those commercials about sick or abused animals come on TV and yet they might hear a commercial or hear someone speak of PTSD and it's as though no words were spoken.  That bothers me.  I'm not saying everyone does this, but I have seen my fair share of those that do and that is difficult for me.

I pledge to be one of the ones that will step out of my comfort zone and offer a hand no matter what that might be if I am at all in a position to do so.  It might just be a kind word or paying for a meal or better yet, just listening.

If you are a member of the military or have a loved one who is/was and are suffering from PTSD and you are reading this, you can reach out to me and I will listen and do anything I can to help you or steer you in the right direction.  If you are a mom who has lost a child in this war regardless how, I am willing to listen and be a support for you. 

These young men and women have burned a place in my heart that will never go away and as long as there are those suffering with this terrible disease or someone who has lost a child or loved one in this horrific war, I will always be here to listen and offer what I can.

Lord, please be with each and every member of our Military at home or abroad and give them the physical and mental strength to face each day.  Lord, also be with their families and close friends that walk these steps with them and give them the peace and understanding they need to encourage and support them in this honorable job they have chosen to do on our behalf.  Amen.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans' Day 2013

To all our Veterans who have served or still serving we would like to say THANK YOU!  I wish, we as a Nation, would do a better job collectively of thank you every day rather than certain times of the year, but it's my hope that you are shown appreciation more today than in days past. 

I'm so proud of our company Tyson Foods, Inc. and Walmart for making such a great effort to hire our Veterans.  It makes me proud that not only myself, but my husband, and two of our daughters work for Tyson Foods, Inc. and we have the honor each day to see just what we do for our Veterans and how we honor them, but more than that, giving them a job and help with the transition into civilian life again.

The sad stories that we have experienced with so many Veterans not being able to find work is heartbreaking.  It does my heart good to see how these two companies are going above and beyond to hire these heroes.  I am certain there are many more companies joining this effort, but these two I know personally are doing so and with Tyson Foods, Inc. and their Camo to Khaki program sets a new higher level of pride within me just knowing I am a part of a company doing great things.

With all that said, thank you to all our Veterans who have ever worn the uniform and signed on that dotted line to serve and sacrifice even if it's with their own lives for our freedoms.  I hope you always feel the appreciation from a very grateful Nation! 

Picture courtesy of http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/poster/vetsday07.jpg

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

When you take advantage of a teaching opportunity... Priceless

One of our neighbors from our old neighborhood reached out to me asking if I knew any specific Troops that her son's 6th grade class could send care packages to.  I started doing some checking and got some names and addresses for her.

She took her son shopping last night and she found the perfect way to take this kind act and turn it into a learning experience for her son.

Most of us adults don't really comprehend how much our Troops need the simple things we take for granted while deployed.  Things like washing machines and dryers aren't there for their convenience and depending on where they are located they may not even have showers and if they do have showers, most don't have hot water.  If most of us adults aren't aware, how would we expect our children to know unless someone teaches them.

I love how our friend was able to take this simple act of kindness and turn it into a very teachable moment and not only did it teach her son how little our troops have when they deploy, but I believe it taught him compassion, understanding, and gratitude.  One small example of how she showed him what he was doing was so important is when she had the chance to explain how important a container of powder is to them.  He couldn't figure it out so she explained that they put it in their boots and on places that get rubbed raw.  It made it more real for him.  She then explained to him that they will appreciate getting things they desperately need or would just like to have to remind them of home from someone other than their families would mean so much to them and she is correct.  Chad even said once how touched he was when a group from a church sent him a care package and wrote notes to him and they didn't even know him.  It truly does touch their hearts that total strangers will take their time and money and do something for them when many times I fear they think we have forgotten about them.

They know their families aren't forgetting about them, but when someone outside their family, especially children, are thinking about them and thanking them for what they are doing I believe it gives them a little boost of moral that they need when they are so disconnected from the real world.

His mom said it gave the two of them a change to talk about what they miss out on and why they need the things on the list they were given.  While just seeing the list and purchasing them on her way home may have seemed easier for her to do, she decided to take him along and use this as a teaching opportunity for him.  So for "Jacob" and his mom, thank you and hopefully this will inspire more parents to get their kids out there and get them involved with sending care packages to our Troops.

With the holidays coming up these young men and women are away from home and families (some for the first time ever) so image how it will warm their hearts to receive care packages from people all over the U.S.  Knowing we are still supporting them and not forgetting that they are still over there fighting a very real war.  It couldn't have been better timing for all this to happen with November being Military Appreciation month and Veterans' Day coming up as well as the Marine Corps birthday.  I'm proud to have had them as neighbors and still have them as friends.

Picture courtesy of www.rrdailyherald.com 

Picture courtesy of www.operationcarepackages.org

Picture courtesy of theshoppingmama.com

Picture courtesy of www.takepart.com

Picture courtesy of brooklyncupcake.wordpress.com 

If you ever doubted if your efforts were appreciated, this last picture says enough...  Thank you to all who give and send care packages and a very special thank you to our Troops home and abroad for your service and sacrifice and for all past, present, and future.  WE ARE A GRATEFUL NATION!

Friday, October 18, 2013

When Honor contiues...

I don't think I will ever get use to the love and honor Chad's friends continue to show for him even now.  There are more little boys (and some puppies) that carry on Chad's name in some fashion or another.  They may use Stafford or Wade and now I am proud to announce that there will be a Chad Rodriguez arriving in March. 
I haven't thought of this in many years (obviously), but as parents we usually always look up the meaning of our child's name (well, at least I did).  Chad means:  Protector; Defender...  How appropriate was his name now?  I never thought it would really live out what it meant so for all of those that have been so loving and willing to carry on his name whether it be a little boy or a beloved pet, first, Thank You, but also know that he will continue to be your protector and defender as you carry this strong name onward.
As parents, we can't say enough to truly express our appreciation and thanks for loving our Chad and continuing to honor him like you do.
I hope it's ok if I share some of the photos I have of some of my baby boy's namesakes... They mean the world to us and always will as will their parents.

Noahh Stafford Honeyman

Bentley Wade McQuillian

TJ's Wade #1

The future Chad (Chadio) Rodriguez

Since I don't have a picture of Camden Wade Tippett, I will show you the picture of his daddy, Chip with Zach Seabaugh, Shawn Spratt, & Chadman

As a parent it's really hard to put into words what it means when someone loves your child enough to want to share his name with their own child.  A child's name is something that is extremely special and something parents long to make meaningful for them and their family and for these young men and women to make Chad such a part of their lives like this means more than I can express. 
All I can do is say thank you and I will cover you and your family in my prayers always.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is this dignified? Wings for Our Troops wants to help!

Most of you have probably heard by now that with the Government Shutdown has now included not flying families of our fallen heroes to Dover so they can witness the Dignified Transfer back onto US soil.  My heart is breaking for these families and having been in there shoes, but not during a Government Shutdown, this must be a slap in the face of their own nightmare.  This link provides the names and branch of the ones who were KIA over the weekend and who's families are not being flown to Dover to witness their return home.  Wings for Our Troops is trying to do all we can to get in touch with these families so we can send them to Dover.  If you know any way of reaching these families please get in touch with us at wingsforourtoops@yahoo.com and we will be working on this end until they are all there.  I cannot imagine not having been there when Chad arrived.  I don't want these families to miss that chance to see their loved ones arrive home.  If you have never (and I pray you haven't and don't) been in this situation it is difficult to express what it means.  You don't see your loved one, but you see the respect the military and the staff at Dover give your loved one whether you are there or not, but seeing it for yourself is something you will never forget.  We want to help them have this as this is the first step to bringing them home to their real homes to rest in peace.  Also, due to the shutdown our Government will not be paying for their funeral.  I really cannot put into words how this hurts my heart for not only these families, but for these military men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country and to know that there has been yet an added burden to their families left behind.  Please pass along to anyone and everyone so they are informed and maybe, just maybe, the families will find out we are here to help them. 

We, Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade" want to help these families get to Dover.  You can find us on Face Book, through this blog, or at www.wingsforourtroops.com or email at wingsforourtroops@yahoo.com

Prayers are needed that either our Government gets it together and does what is right by these families and these Soldiers and this Marine and if they can't do this in time to get them to Dover, please pray that Wings for Our Troops are able to get in touch with these families to let them know we are here to help them get there.

Thank you with all our hearts.  Semper Fi!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11

It is hard to believe today marks 12 years since that faithful day on 9/11 when the face and hearts of American would be changed forever.  Some of those changed more profoundly than others, but all changed none the less.  I have thought about all the lives lost and the families and friends that would never be the same since that day.  Obviously I was consumed with thoughts and memories of my son.
On 9/11/01 my biggest concern at the time was getting my son home from school and safe and knowing that if he was with me I could protect him.  Never (at that time) did I dream that only 9 short years later I would not be able to protect my son as he was in Afghanistan fighting to defend this great country of ours.  He stepped on an IED and was KIA on December 1, 2010 at the young age of 22.  My life and my family's life and his brothers in arms and friends would be changed forever.  We are still evolving into what would be our "new normal".  We have all learned a lot and cried even more and continue to go through normal (if you can call it that) stuff that life throws at us (i.e. cancer, surgeries, parents aging, etc.).  Turns out our lives don't stop just because we lost someone so dear.  I won't lie, there are days I wish it had.  It's too painful to carry on each day without him, but there are no choices when you are faced with something like this.  You have to get up each day and put your feet on the floor and face whatever that day decides to throw your way.  I know that is what I would tell my son (and did when he lost his best friend/cousin) if he were here today and having to experience this for himself.  I tell his brothers in arms and friends every chance I get that Chad would never want them to not live their lives to the fullest and be the best they can be and make a difference in this world.  He would never want them to stop living rather live even bigger for him.  I know that is what he would tell all of them if he could.  So I guess that is what they have me for.
I was honored today when someone I don't know, Amanda Allgood, sent me some photos taken at a 9/11 Memorial in Hawaii.  She didn't have to do that for me, but she did.  It touched my heart to know people care so much.
It is terribly sad that so many have fallen since that faithful day and since, but it is sadly, reality.  I would like to share these touching photos with you today so you can see what I mean.  Thank you again Ms. Amanda Allgood for being that person that is willing to do something for someone you don't even know.  I will be forever grateful.

My sweet boy, Chad

Chad and someone else's sweet boy

9/11 Memorial Ceremony in Hawaii on 9-11-13


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What is it going to take?

This comes from a place that I am actually torn.  There is a part of me that feels like a hypocrite.  Let me explain.  When Chad enlisted into the Marine Corps I had never heard of Blue Star Moms or Gold Star Moms/Families.  It had never come up and I know ignorance of this is my fault as I've never been a big reader, but I had never even heard these terms.  It actually wasn't until Chad passed away that I was even made aware of Blue or Gold Star.

So in very simple terms here is a definition of both.  When you have a child who is on active duty in the military you typically hang a flag displaying a blue star in your window to signify that you have a loved one in the military.
Should that loved one be KIA or pass away due to injuries received in combat your "Blue Star" turns to "Gold".  Then you would display a Gold Star Flag in your window to signify that you have lost a loved one in the line of duty.

When you sadly become a Gold Star Family you are entitled to receive a license plate indicating you are a Gold Star Family.  This is what Arkansas' looks like:

We have one on my vehicle and I had to actually educate the lovely lady (and she really was lovely) behind the counter what this was for and why we were getting it.  It was a difficult conversation and she said this was the first one she had ever issued and I simply responded with Thank God and I pray you don't have to issue anymore.

Here is what prompted this blog today and has my heart feeling so heavy today.  A Gold Star Wife went to get her "Gold Star" tag and had to go through the entire "proving" process of explaining why she was getting this "Gold Star Family" tag.  She doesn't live in AR (I won't give any other details regarding her to protect her privacy) and after spending 45 + minutes explaining why she was getting her tag and basically reliving her nightmare again she finally received her tag.  Having personally gone through this experience and dealing with basically educating the staff that was helping us, I feel her pain and my heart just broke for her today.  She handled herself with the utmost composure that I wonder if everyone in this situation could do.  I myself was lucky enough to have my husband with me so I just found courage to speak when I might have otherwise walked out and tried again another day.  However, I was fortunate enough to have him next to me to give me the extra courage I needed to get through this process.

I don't know what it will take for our country to get educated on things like Blue Star families and Gold Star families so if you have suggestions I am not only interested in hearing them, but I am actually interested in doing my part to get the word out.  This is not my first blog about Blue and Gold Star families and trying to bring awareness, but this isn't enough.  We need others to understand if you see a Gold Star Family car tag, you understand that they have lost a loved one in war.  If you see a Blue Star flag at someones house, you know to say an extra prayer for their loved one serving.  

I recently learned that our Veterans can also receive special tags.  This is just one I chose as an example:

They have several different options with showing what War they fought in and what branch they were in.  I'm asking all of you that when you see these tags (regardless which one you see) that you take pause and remember they have these tags for a reason and they fought for us.  The sad part of this is our Veterans have to pay (while it is minimal) for these tags.  Really?  The very least they deserve after all they did for us is to get these tags for free.  I realize this is my opinion and I'm entitled to it as everyone else is as well, but these are things I don't think the general public is aware of these issues and these symbols.

I do find myself noticing tags now more than I ever did before (and shame on me for that) and I would encourage you to do that as well.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wings For Our Troops Foundation: "I Hope You Are Dancing"

Wings For Our Troops Foundation: "I Hope You Are Dancing": I have a very special person send me this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNoLJy68ZcE  yesterday.  She said when she heard it I was the...

"I Hope You Are Dancing"

I have a very special person send me this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNoLJy68ZcE yesterday.  She said when she heard it I was the first person she thought of.  It literally made my really crappy day turn into a brighter day.  While I cried, somehow they were somewhat happy tears.  See, I used to tell Chad all the time when I died I wanted him to play "I hope you dance" by Lee Ann Womack at my funeral for him and my nieces and nephews.  I always wanted them to live like and dance if given the chance. 
Well, without me knowing, Chad chose Lee Ann Womack's song for our mother/son dance at his wedding.  It could not have been more perfect, but more than that, it couldn't have meant more to me that he truly knew how important that song was to me. 
Ironically (in a very sad way) I ended up adding that song to his slideshow at his funeral.  That wasn't exactly what my plan was all along, but as we all eventually all find out, our plans aren't always God's plan. 
Yesterday when I heard this song I was taken right back wishing I could tell Chad these very words.  I could see he and I have this exact conversation and while it does give me comfort, it sure makes me miss him even more. 
Thank you Lindsay for thinking enough of me and Chad to send this song to me.  As soon as it is available on iTunes Tia has promised to get it on my phone for me.  I can't seem to get enough of this song. 
Momma loves and misses you baby boy more than I will ever be able to express, that is, until I get to heaven and can't let go of you (and we won't have to worry about rushing off the parade deck for showing PDA).  :D

Thursday, July 25, 2013

PTSD, Suicide, And OUR Military...

I'm actually taking the title to this post from a very special blogger (and Gold Star wife) to help bring awareness to a very big problem and one that is very close to my heart.  "A Little Pink in a World of Camo" states this issue very well so I don't want to take anything away from her so please visit http://alittlepinkinaworldofcamo.blogspot.com/2013/07/ptsd-suicide-and-our-military.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ALittlePinkInAWorldOfCamo+%28A+Little+Pink+in+a+World+of+Camo%29 and read her words. 
What I will mention in this post is that my heart aches for these men and women that return from combat and struggle with this silent "killer" and/or silent disease that truly takes over and controls their worlds.  Many times they don't even realize that is what they are dealing with until they have struggled for months and even years.  Typically what I am understanding from those I'm the closest to is that it is the families that notice these signs/symptoms first, but most don't know how or if they should confront their loved one. 
The worse thing any of us can do is turn a blind eye to this epidemic (and I truly believe that is what it is now based on the number of veterans we have re-entering the civilian life).  If we choose not to acknowledge or embrace these young men and women they will get lost and potentially even worse end their lives as a result.
What I'm learning about PTSD is that our men and women that have it are either feeling or being treated (or both) like it is a bad thing and negative.  The only time I believe it is bad or negative is if we choose to ignore it and do nothing.  We want to educate the world so that these young men and women get the help they so desperately need and deserve without putting a negative stigma on them. 
In doing some research of my own (very elementary I might add), I came across a doctor that really shed light on this epidemic.  Her name is Dr. Heidi Kraft and she is a clinical psychologist and former Navy Lieutenant Commander and she saw the effects of war on service members first hand during a tour in Iraq.  Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis.  It is an anxiety disorder that is based on a person haivng lived through or experienced a trauma and then at some later point experiencing some symptoms based on that traumatic memory "Dr. Heidi Kraft".  Please take a moment to check out this interview with her on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofs9np3yraQ and you will understand much more than I can tell you here.
I do believe my fellow blogger from "A Little Pink in a World of Camo" said it very well when she said this is OUR problem as a Nation and WE owe it to these service men and women to do all we can to help them and in a small way re-pay them for their service and tremendous sacrifices they have given for all of us.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, this is very close to my heart.  My son served right along side some amazing young men in the USMC and I know these men are struggling.  I know they must suffer from some degree of PTSD.  Some will acknowledge it and seek help and others will not.  I do believe that they are trained not to show weakness, but I'm here to tell them now, seeking help for this is not a sign of weakness, but just the opposite.  It takes tremendous courage and bravery to admit you need help and then see it through to get the help you need.  After finding the YouTube interview with Dr. Heidi Kraft and reading more about her I sent each of these guys that I knew how to reach a letter explaining that if they were experiencing any of these symptoms or feelings to please not ignore them, but seek help for it.  I pray they are all doing just that.  They owe it to themselves, their families, and their fellow and fallen brothers to live the best life they can live and they can't do that if they refuse to seek help for this. 
This is real and this is nothing to be ashamed of.  You will read her words, but "A Little Pink in a World of Camo" said, "If you aren't shaken by war and what you see there, then that is crazy" (I paraphrased that to a point), but she is correct.  You cannot see and experience what these young men and women see and experience and not be effected by it.  With that being said, why is it that there tends to be such a negative connotation linked to that diagnosis?  It shouldn't be.  This is the very least we can do for these men and women that sacrifice so much and some that sacrificed all for us.
Please, stand with us America!  Let's take care of our own as they are and have and will take care of us!  I challenge you to be a part of the solution!  Are you up for the challenge?  If you are, don't merely talk about it, but do something.
You might wonder what you can do.  You can start by educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of PTSD and encourage a military member to seek help, but more than that, make sure they know and believe that it is ok to seek help and there isn't anything "wrong" with them for coming forward.  Then just love and support them every chance you get and above all else, pray for them!  These young men and women are amazing people and they know loyalty and sacrifice.  Why let that character and all that goodness go to waste when they can offer so much to society, employers, and communities.  Let's not let this happen.
To all our service men and women, past, present, and future, you ARE appreciated and I thank you from the bottom of my heart and you can reach out to me any time if you need someone to talk to.  I owe you at least that much.
God Speed to each and every one of you and for our Gold Star Families!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jobs for Veterans!

I'm so proud to work for a company that truly is making a difference in the lives of our veterans and giving back to the community.  My husband and I as well as his two daughters work at Tyson Foods, Inc.  We have a program here at Tyson Foods called "Camo to Khaki".  The reason for the name is Tyson Foods' uniform color if you will is Khaki and we wear it proudly around here.  The short version of how this program works is we have veterans that work for Tyson Foods, Inc. and they take military resumes and translate their job skills to see where they would be a good fit in our company.  Once they are hired they have the chance to go through a "boot camp" at Tyson Foods that will show them from the farm to the plate processes within our company so they have a complete understanding.  This also allows them to determine what direction they would like their career to go.  It has been very successful.
This morning I was watching the local news and saw where Walmart is hiring all honorably discharged veterans if they want a job starting Memorial Day.  This is awesome!
If you are a veteran and you have been honorably discharged from the military or completed your contract and you are looking for a job I encourage you to go to www.tyson.com or www.walmart.com and check out the career opportunities.  Do not get discouraged if you feel like you don't technically qualify for a posted position.  Reach out to these companies and let them know you are a veteran and you want to work for them and they will take it from there.
This is the very least we as a country and community can do for those who have served and sacrificed so much for us.  I never want to see a veteran jobless or homeless and this is a great step in making sure that doesn't happen.
Great job Tyson Foods and Walmart!  We appreciate what you are doing for our military men and women.