Bombshell Patriots

The Bombshell Patriots of Nebraska held their first Nebraska Conference today. All I can say is I’m blown away. As a new contributor to the organization, I was proud to be there. I was also a vendor, with information on grief from the Centering Corporation, and VFW Post 2503 information, along with some info from the VA itself. The FBI had a recruiting booth, Wounded Warrior represented and sponsored lunch, and VA Nebraska attended as well as others.

Bellevue High School (sorry, didn’t hear if it was East or West!) ROTC presented colors. Alyssa Flood, the Founder of Bombshell Patriots, is a force to be reckoned with. I did not realize she is not a veteran (it doesn’t matter, does it?), and she founded the organization after the grief/anger/angst/frustration from the death of her veteran friend. Grief can be destructive, isolating, overwhelming, or daunting. No one wants to talk about it, much less deal with it.

Alyssa took action to help her deal with it. She is helping female veterans take action to get the help they need during deployment and/or during the re-introduction into life after the military. Of course, there are agencies available through the government agencies like the VA. Do they return all the phone calls? We heard from a couple of veterans who had mental health needs who said a loud “NO” to that question. We heard a female MG question, “Why does she have to wait until Monday?” Good question.

No veteran, male or female, should have to wait, to fend for themselves over a weekend when they need help now. It is no wonder many give up. When they can no longer fend for themselves, they just want the pain to end. That is not on them. It’s not necessarily on their families, health care providers, or anyone specific. From what I heard today, it’s a combination of all the above. Inadequate support for mental health issues is common. Why?

I am certainly no professional in the field; what I can tell you, is our society has hidden any references to mental health issues, treatment, education, and knowledge just came out of the dark ages in this respect. I had a great aunt who had bipolar disorder (manic depressive). The poor woman suffered terribly. They committed her to a mental health facility (Our Lady of Victory) on the original St. Joe’s Hospital campus. She had shock treatments. I don’t think that helped her. I remember being told, “Now, don’t tell anyone she is here, or that we came to visit here today.”

#1 – Who was I going to tell?

#2 – Why couldn’t people talk about it?

It is a shame we whisper about and ignore the number of people there because out of our ignorance. Mental health issues are rampant through our society, military related or not. After what we put our veterans through, why whisper about it or, worse yet, why ignore it? It’s not going away.

Alyssa Flood is now on the front lines as an advocate, referral point, and unrelenting friend to female veterans who need it. Some have families who can help. Many don’t. Why not? Most of us don’t want to ask for help. It’s not a male or female trait, but it’s for sure a veterans trait. Bombshell is a place people with nowhere to go can land, in a safe place, until it can lead them to help if they want and need it. What we’re doing isn’t working. We have to do better. Our veterans deserve it.

Many veterans do not live near family; are emotionally distant; or don’t want to involve their families in their problems. Many don’t realize they have a problem. And the unraveling begins. The risks and prices are so high. It can be frightening. The pain is everlasting. I witnessed it today in a Gold Star Father’s eyes. I will never forget that look. It’s haunting. Fresh as the day it started. We need to hear what these families have to say. We need to listen. And we need to act. Just as Alyssa Flood did. And the speakers. What wonderful speakers there were.

I met some people I only knew online. I hope to talk with them all more in the future. This organization will continue. It will be strong, growing, and effective. We all need this to happen. Most of us don’t know it yet. And we hope we don’t. Until that knock is at the door. And we cannot stop what happens yet. The grief. Oh, the grief.

As I reflect on this day, this gift of a day, with all the ups and downs of the feelings, I am grateful to all the speakers, the educators who don’t give up, the survivors, patients, participants, the veterans who take their PTSD and make beautiful things from it, the music, the artwork, the networking, and the friendships that result. You are all America’s best. Our soldiers. Our protectors. Thank you. Thank you all.