My Family - by Theresa Adams
I was born into the military, or as Deb has said "I am an Army Brat." The tradition of serving our country has been passed down through many generations on both sides of my family. As an adult I am surrounded by Veterans, (I capitalize this as a sign of respect), my father, stepfather, stepmother, brother, stepbrother, husband, uncles and both of my grandfathers are all Veterans.
Reaching out to help can seem difficult given the hard financial times a lot of people are going through currently, but we must step out of ourselves to give back to the men and women who put their lives on the line for our culture to thrive and grow. This can also mean giving of time and friendship. It is easy to identify a soldier in uniform to say thank you, but they do take them off and their families have no uniforms. Get to know your community and reach out by asking what you can do to make their transitions easier.
If these Veterans are willing to sacrifice we must meet them with a spirit of gratitude and blessings. Whether or not you agree politically should have no bearing. This is not about politics, this is about reaching out to our loved ones and saying thank you, what can we do for you.
Doug’s ‘Vets Need Us’ Story
Growing up, I moved around a lot as a child, but I knew next to nothing about the military. I was a P.K. (a preacher’s kid) with a lot of younger sisters (6). Joining the military allowed me to go to college and to serve our country. While in the military, I continued to move around a lot, was very young when I first married, had kids, and later divorced. I’ve seen a lot of challenges for young military families, and for our veterans who have honorably served. One conversation I had with my Father in the 90’s, in particular, really stuck with me. My Father described the disturbing patterns he was seeing in his drug & alcohol, and prison ministry programs. Large numbers of Veterans, especially from Viet Nam, were having terrible problems... essentially forgotten by society; yet, these veterans clearly needed help. Today, we still see many problems in and outside the military, but there are programs and individuals who know much more about what can REALLY help our veterans and military members, who may not be as skillful as needed to properly deal with the pressures they are facing or that emerge unexpectedly. Suicides alone are taking a life a day from our military ranks, a terrible tragedy for their families and our Nation. This loss of such talent and potential is something this country can ill afford, as we continue to face a world that is increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. How about you? What stories can you share that might better align the efforts of existing programs, and engage available resources and anyone locally or throughout our country to REALLY help our veterans and military?
Deb’s ‘New Kid in Town’ Story
Perhaps like some of you, as a child I moved around A LOT! My two older brothers and I, and later my own daughter were affectionately referred to as Army “brats”, because our parents served in the military. Moving can be especially hard on kids, wanting to quickly “fit in”.
I recall one elementary school, in particular, that had 60 incoming fourth graders with only two “new” children, a boy who had moved from a neighboring township and my daughter, Emily. (Emily eventually changed schools every year from 2nd-9th grades plus 2 high schools). Despite being a commander of an important unit nearby, you can imagine what it was like to be her parent when Emily and I arrived at her school that first day and stood in line outside. I thought to myself “I sure hope the kids are nice here. Smile, smile. Oh dear, no one talking to us yet, I feel like we’re in a fishbowl.” It was then I noticed something in the hand of a little girl approaching us. It looked like an envelope she was handing to Emily while asking her something. Hmmm. “Oh my… it’s an invitation to her birthday party this weekend.” As my smile grew, a deep sigh of relief came over me and my eyes automatically began to tear. I hadn’t realized just how worried and stressed I was until that very moment, perhaps because of my own childhood experiences. Seeing Emily’s response to that special token of kindness swept those initial worries away and filled me with heartfelt gratitude. I knew Emily was going to be just fine here…
Thankfully I have witnessed caring people who DO pay attention to others... How about you? That little girl, and her mom and Dad were paying attention that we were new in town and their family got involved. How many others do you think might be inspired by their single act of kindness, or by sharing similar stories of others who have found ways to REALLY help our military members and their families or to take advantage of the many ways our veterans and military might contribute by including them in community activities?
‘What One Thing?’ Story
You may not know that after hearing a portion of Deb and Doug’s upcoming tour story, a friend of theirs decided to ask a 91 year old fellow parishioner at church what one thing he could do that would really help him out. The answer- could their friend help weed his front yard? Soon after, their friend went to his home to help him out, noting the neglect of a once beautiful yard. Afterwards, both were amply rewarded by the outcome, with plans to remain in contact… What if others started saying to themselves “I wonder what would happen if we all started paying attention to find just one thing that might be REALLY helpful to our military and veterans, and did something about it?”
Gary Nau's Letter about the Veterans Resources Center, Freeland, WA
Dear Friends, November 2010
I spent thirteen months in the jungles of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. When I came home, I couldn’t just pick up where I’d left off and adjust to “life as usual.” I wasn’t the same person. I’d seen too much.
When I learned about the young, South Whidbey returning veteran, who also could not adjust, and who took his own life, it broke my heart. I felt compelled to meet his parents and try to make sense of their anguish. I found that rather than letting the pain of losing their son to suicide engulf them; they are working to make a difference in the lives of other vets through founding the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) in Freeland.
Their bravery and determination have inspired me to step forward in this letter and in my own life, to help them make a difference in the lives of our returning veterans and their families.
According to VA Secretary Shinseki, 18 US veterans commit suicide ever day. More Vietnam veterans have died from suicide since the Vietnam War ended than were killed in action during that war, over 58,000. And, more active duty service men and women have killed themselves than have died in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We know that veterans from all wars, but especially those young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, are not getting the treatment they need from traditional medical sources. The Department of Veterans Affairs medical care system is overwhelmed, and vets find themselves stymied, often unable to get the care they need. VA Secretary Shinseki, in his report on the VA’s treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, found that 27% of the veterans who committed suicide every year were under the direct care of a Veterans Healthcare facility at the time.
We cannot let this continue! Please respond to this urgent appeal.
Today Iraq and Afghan vets are coming home with nightmares, flashbacks, and wounds similar to those we suffered in Vietnam. Some wounds, like the loss of a leg or a face, are visible, but so many are invisible. These returning young men and women need our help to heal.
The VRC is a nonprofit charitable organization that began doing outreach and advocacy with veterans and their families as well as community education programs in autumn of 2008. Their mission is: to promote community based programs to heal the wounds of war for veterans, their families and communities. The all-volunteer organization has many programs to build emotional resiliency and assist the veterans and their families with reintegration into civilian life.
The VRC welcomes all vets from all military services, as well as civilians to come together and honor our vets and their families; to have a dialogue, and to socialize; study, learn, make music, and play, in a wildly peaceful and respectful manner. After all these years, I’ve found my retreat and I want to keep the VRC doors open. To do that, we need your help NOW.
If we all stand up collectively, from all of our walks of life, we can make it possible for these young men and women and their families to heal the many-layered wounds of war.
Please open your hearts to help us keep our doors open for the 2000 recently returned Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and the 12,000 other veterans who live in Island County. Your tax-deductible gift of $100 or more, $75, $50, $25—as much as you can share will be put to work right away. Come by the VRC in Freeland and see for yourself what we are accomplishing.
The VRC is the real deal! We are deeply grateful for your generous help to keep our facility open.
Gary A. Nau
Checks can be made out to VRC/IHC and mailed to the P.O. Box 85, Freeland, WA 98249, or if you prefer you can contribute online from our website: www.vetsresourcecenter.org
David Feherty and Rick Kell
An inspiring video by Golf Channel's Rich Lerner about CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty and retired advertising exec Rick Kell and their efforts creating the Troops First Foundation. Troops First develops, operates and supports a group of wellness, quality of life and sports-based initiatives in support of today's military personnel. This is a moving story about two people creating an organization that is making a difference; an outstanding example of how teamwork, great ideas and personal involvement will have a positive impact in supporting our veterans. Please watch this video, you'll be glad you did and it may inspire you or foster and idea of what you can do to help.
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