The Day After

Yesterday was the Bombshell Patriots Conference for Nebraska. It was a very emotional day. Stories shared, we heard about lives of patriotism, valor, anxiety, depression. How these people fought their way out of the darkness are stories of victory, faith, hope, and a strength that builds spirit, character, and heart. Some, unfortunately, cannot find their way from the darkness. The depression takes over.

They may not reveal depression, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms. Their careers could be over by admitting these things. They struggle. Many cannot do it alone. We lose many to suicide. It breaks my heart to know that. The ratio of killed in action to killed by suicide is reversing at a frightening speed. Fewer KIA’s last year. Four times as many killed by suicide. We cannot look the other way while this happens. We owe our servicemen and women better.

The sisterhood I entered yesterday was incredible. Women helping women. What a noble concept. Not having any sisters, I often am at a loss figuring out how to fit with groups of women. I don’t need to do that with BSP. They honor each other where each of them are. This is key. The encouragement is something I’ve not encountered a lot. It was refreshing and comfortable.

The downside? For a person with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I have pain every day. After a while, I needed to overcome it mentally. Sure, it hurts, but I know it won’t kill me; I don’t like it, but dang it, I can’t give up everything. That said, conferences and classes must be carefully scheduled. Not too many hours, no carrying stuff and off loading alone. I need to ask for help. And I need a day or two after to do nothing. Recuperation takes strategy, patience, and lots of self-love. And of course, gratitude.

Why gratitude? It’s because twenty-seven years ago, I had a tumor in my spinal column that was growing, pressing the spinal cord. The bone crushing pain I experienced was the worst I ever had. It would have paralyzed me except the neuro doc saw an arachnoid cyst. He learned about it in school, but never saw one. Surgery took over eight hours. I’m grateful every day I can get up and walk. Sure it hurts. It could be so much worse. Sure, it could be so much better. That isn’t even a remote possibility. I have to choose positivity.

Do I have days I don’t want to move? Yes. I have days I don’t want to. I know I’m better up and living. Each day has hope for me. It’s a necessity. Creative endeavors are a must. Writing clears my whole soul. I get strength from it. I’m better at creating than anything else. Quilts, stories, and many needle arts projects will have my time.

As we have a quiet evening and consider what we need to do the next week, I hope you are also enjoying a quiet evening. The week will be another busy one. And I will think of the room full of women and a few men who spent time yesterday with the Bombshells. Long may they reach out. Female veterans need them. I support that. Bless all of them.

Take care this week. Be purposeful about your work and play. Be sure to play. Let’s see each other again tomorrow.

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.

The Hawk. Insomnia. Messages.

I’ve been awake since probably 3 a.m. Yes. 3 a.m. I am still not tired yet at 7 a.m. A quick nap this afternoon will be in order. I woke when the Babe got up to use the restroom, as dudes in their 70s often need to do at night. Lexie was sleeping between us and she stood to circle around and lie down again. She moves until she bumps into any body part on me, then she sighs. It’s kind of nice.

While lying in bed, willing myself back to sleep, my first conscious thought again was the hawk from a few days ago. Here’s that article. Yes, I feel it was a message to urge me to free up time to do the things I want to do – writing, quilting, creating. The hawk, a symbol of honesty and clear vision, came to me in the very spot my friend Rick Tiger said we’d sit and write a song this summer when he and his wife would travel to Omaha to do another show at the VFW. Sadly, Rick contracted COVID and passed away last October.

In the early morning fog of waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, it occurred to me. The hawk may have been Rick. He encouraged me to write, and that is what I intend to do. I am amazed. It’s what I’m working towards, that very thing. And the hawk appeared above me where we were to write the song we talked about. I’m tagging his wife, Joyce, in this blog. Joyce, Rick is still working, isn’t he? I’m grateful for the prompt he asked God to send to me. It’s a gift! Thanks, Rick!

Tonight, the Babe and I are going to the kick-off meet and greet for the first Bombshell Patriots of Nebraska Conference. I’m proud to be part of this event and am eager to hear the speakers tomorrow. They are all very accomplished women. I cannot wait to learn from them. It should be a great weekend. Check them out on Facebook, Bombshell Patriots. They’re in Colfax, Iowa. Their website is: http://www.bombshellpatriots.org.

Should be a great conference.
It will be an honor to hear these women speak and meet them.

I won’t be able to blog until late tomorrow evening, so we will see each other tomorrow. Thank you for reading, stay safe, and have a beautiful evening.