Another Tuesday, Enjoy!

It’s another beautiful, sunny day here at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I’m spending the day at home, doing some much needed home tasks and trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo. Folks, it may take me into December to finish 50K words at this point. I’ve had to sacrifice writing time to participate in volunteering for our VFW and the groups we support. Believe me, it is worth it. The friends I’ve made and the stories I’ve heard, I’m truly blessed to be able to know these leaders and know their stories. Veterans Day is an important day. It’s when we thank our Veterans when we think of their sacrifices. This year it is important to let them know we’re behind them, we support them, and we will listen. They need that more than ever right now. The withdrawl from Afghanistan was a mess, to put it mildly. I’ll leave it at that.

Yesterday was an amazing experience. Liz Boutin, a local artist, is sharing her art work about PTSD with us for Veterans Day/Week. I was able to listen to her inspirations for the paintings, which was a gift. From her time as a Red Cross Volunteer while a military spouse in Germany, she was in the hospital where the wounded soldiers from Iraq were sent. Some stayed long enough for her to hear their stories. She was part of the worst things in these soldiers’ lives.

They would open up to her, preferring a civilian over a military doctor or shrink who would put the information in their records. She needed a way to release the burden she was carrying. Her own mental health was suffering. She started journaling about her experiences. Later, she discovered she had PTSD. Doing more research, she learned about how art is therapy for those with PTSD. Liz has poured her heart and soul into this art. And it is beautiful. Hard to see? Maybe a little. But for the depictions of what she’s seen and heard and experienced, it’s an experience that is well worth having. I believe she is gifted in the world of art, storytelling, and observations in her life. We’re so lucky she is sharing her art with us.

We also have many reps from the VA to discuss everything from registering you for benefits to letting you know what you can expect in the process. It’s a convenient way for you to get started. We will have representatives from Moving Veterans Forward, ABATE, 22 Veterans Suicide Awareness Group, and information available from Guitars for Vets, and the Centering Corporation, the oldest grief organization in America. I have learned so much from them over the past twenty years.

Come see us Thursday. Veterans eat free, and we have a bake sale by the Auxiliary, some merch from various vendors, and Liz Boutin’s art is for sale. Don’t forget about the food and clothing drive we are sponsoring for homeless Veterans. We want them to have warm clothing this winter. It’s the least we can do. Help them out. Learn something new from our information sharing day. We welcome you. Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow!

Memories on Monday

Today, I’m reflecting on the wonderful weekend we had. I’ve already shared about my reunion; making lots of new Facebook friends from that. Saturday was a day that warmed my heart just full of gratitude, awe, and pride in America.

My husband and I have met and grown to love a lot of the Greatest Generation, and we are so thankful for what they and thousands of others did for our country. The couple pictured in the header picture are our friends, Mary and Marion. They have been together for 22 years, and look out for each other as best friends. They live at a retirement complex near our VFW Post and maintain separate apartments. Their attitude here is “Why get married and ruin our friendship?” I applaud them. We all need a best friend.

Mary called me last week, after reading our article describing a new program through Moving Veterans Forward. We have partnered with MVF since last October, and have donations every month of things they may need to set up a homeless veteran in an apartment of their own. Of course, the Vet needs to abide by certain rules, certain behaviors, etc.

A program Ron Hernandez introduced recently is one which allows foster visits with a Vet and their children can take place at his MVF warehouse, in the Rec Center. He refers to the Rec Center to as “The Fox Hole.” Prior to this, the Vets often had to meet the case worker and kids at Walmart and walk around talking. Ron offers the Fox Hole as a comfortable place, where they may fix a snack and talk, or go out back and fish. It’s a relationship building environment for sure. It is a Court approved meeting place now. We’re collecting snack packs, jello, crackers, etc.

Friends, Mary asked me if they could donate some things that weren’t on the list. It hurt their hearts, thinking of kids having to visit their parent like that. They decided at breakfast that day, “We have to do something.”

This brings tears to my eyes. Marion is 97 years old, a Purple Heart Veteran from the Italian Front, the Battle of Anzio. I don’t know Mary’s age, but they are of the same spirit, the same giving heart. For all these people have experienced in their lives, they still have generous hearts. We should all take a lesson from them. They went to Dollar Tree and picked many comfort snacks for our other friends going through these visits. Below are some donations we made this week, with the help of Marion, Mary, and others.

It is an honor to know them, and a privilege to call them both our friends. They have asked if they may meet Ron Hernandez and thank him for providing the services he does through Moving Veterans Forward. I will make that happen, for sure. Friends, learn all you can from our elders. Learn about our history; and about their lives. Learn about how the world was. And learn about loving selflessly.

Make a new friend today. It may surprise you what you learn! Be kind out there. It will come back to you. I’m off to take Mom to the doctor! Have a beautiful day, thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.