Sunday; PTSD & Mental Health

Today was an informative event at the VFW Post 2503, thanks to the generosity of Kim Erickson and Tammy Marshall, Donna Wolff, and Silouan Green. Mr. Green is an author and speaker on PTSD, and does training for many types of organizations, military, law enforcement, and others. He was an incredible and informative speaker on the subject of PTSD.

It is a subject people don’t want to talk about. Mental health is just as part of your health as your gall bladder, your heart, and muscles. Anyone can have PTSD. It can be from a direct event that happened to you, or can be something you hear about that causes you great distress. It’s amazing. I wish you had all been there. We learned so much.

I learned a lot I didn’t know, and am disappointed Donna didn’t do her presentation on Talk Saves Lives. I was looking forward to it, but it wasn’t to be. Silouan ran over, and Ms. Wolff needed to drive back to where she lives near western Nebraska.

It was my last formal involvement in a VFW Post activity; I’ve made it known I need to spend more time pursuing my passions. Writing, Quilting, and learning new things are tops on the list. I want to take art lessons as well. This will allow me much more time. It’s time. Time to make time for myself and what I wish to do for myself. It’s all part of being well-rounded. I’ve loved my time volunteering with Veterans outreach, and we’ve made friends to cherish from these years. My life is very good, and I’m proud of what’s been accomplished. Time to step back.

I remember when I was a kid, a great aunt on Dad’s side of the family was hospitalized with mental health issues. I was about 10 or so, I think. We went to visit her at the mental hospital near the regular hospital. Mom threatened us with an untimely demise if we told anyone where we went to visit her, such was the scourge of mental illness. I remember the poor lady was troubled with depression, and she could have been bi-polar, I don’t know. There was no shame in it at all. But Mom thought so, as did many folks during those years. I overheard she had shock-treatments. I didn’t know what those were, but they sounded awful.

If you talked to a “head doctor,” you carried a stigma. The feeling was strong in the families, and society back then. Our aunt was unmarried, so according to the protocol of the times, she lived with her sister (our Grandma) and her family. It was totally normal for us. Like having two grandmothers. She was such a sweet woman, always dressed in her own classic style, and a lady through and through.

Aunt Anna always talked about having class. That was a phrase that meant you had manners, style, were appropriate in any situation, and could carry on a decent conversation. After she passed away, I tried on a dress that reminded me of something she would buy. I heard her, in my mind’s eye say, “Kid, you’ve got class in that.” Even after over 40 years, I miss her. She had such an influence in my life. When I’d stay at their house, I’d get to go downtown on the bus with her on Saturday to go shopping. It was such a wonderful time.

Writing takes your mind on many trips down memory lane. Yesterday, it was about the brownies from three wars; today, it was mental illness, family secrets, and having class. I appreciate you listening and reading and coming back every day as you do. We have #975 followers, which is awesome! I’d like to see us add #25 more, and get to #1000followers since we passed #1000blogs a little while ago. Help a girl out? It’s be fun!

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a beautiful evening and a great Monday morning. It’s going to be a wonderful week. Eight days until our 24th Wedding Anniversary. Some days it feels like yesterday, others it seems like a long time ago. Blissful all the way. See you tomorrow!

The Three-War Brownie Recipe

As I baked nine batches of boxed brownies today, I couldn’t help but think of Grandma Jewell and a very special brownie recipe she shared with me once a long time ago.

Gram was an excellent baker – yeast rolls, the best from scratch German Chocolate Cake you could ever taste, Pecan Rolls, oozing in melted butter and sugar and cinnamon, and many other masterpieces. When my first husband was in Germany (he was a Vietnam-era veteran, assigned to Germany at the time of the 1972 Olympics. Tough duty), she told me I needed to send him some brownies. She had a recipe she shared with me that made an 8 x 8 pan of the most decadent brownies I’ve ever experienced.

One of the flavors of purchased brownie mix I used had “real chocolate” to add. It was a little foil packet containing maybe two tablespoons of Hershey’s Syrup, the gold standard for chocolate syrup. As I pulled it open and squeezed the goodness into the bowl, I thought back to opening the can of Hershey’s with a can-opener (the kind we used to have to use for beer, before pop-tops), and pouring the whole can into the bowl with the flour, eggs, butter, salt, and stirring until the beautiful nearly black batter settled. It smelled so good! I believe I can still smell it today.

I remember she cautioned me to pack it in a coffee can (they were metal back then), and wrap securely. It would take quite awhile for packages to go APO or FPO back in the early 1970s. It finally arrived, and I pictured servicemen from three wars, WWII, Korea, and the Vietnam Era enjoying Grandma’s delicious brownies. It’s a beautiful, warm memory.

If we have to find these memories on a bad day, we can make a bad day good. We have a choice; cave in, or do your best to get through the bad ones. I think of how Gram Jewell did exactly that. In her strong faith, and prayer life, she carried many of us through bad times. I’d like to remember that again for my future. You never know when you’re going to need it.

I hope you had a great day today. We’ll be at the Post for the PTSD lecture and Talk Saves Lives training. Maybe we’ll see each other there. Take care, and we’ll see each other tomorrow right here.

90th Anniversary Weekend

Today, our bodies are tired, our hearts are full, and the memories are on overload with the people we’ve known and lost from our VFW Post 2503. Anniversaries and Birthday remembrances always bring those memories forward. Our events, well attended, ran smoothly. If anyone left hungry, it was their fault!

Preparation for this weekend of events began over a year ago. The Quartermaster, Dan Raabe, suggested we spruce the building up as part of our rebranding process. Why? To survive another 90 years, we need to include young families, younger male and female veterans, and expand our focus to serve veterans more ways.

We have assembled a team of people who play separate critical functions to support our veterans. We have embarked on missions with Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, and the 50 Mile March Foundation. The next logical step to support is a most critical one. The area of veteran suicide prevention. Planning is underway to expand our outreach. We will welcome volunteers when the expansion is underway. More on this in the future.

Saturday evening, we hosted speakers, remembrances of old uniforms, memorabilia, and members filled our Honor Room (formerly called the South Room). Music followed. We unveiled our custom-labeled Patriot Red and Freedom White wines. We also had the VFW logo etched onto 20 ounce glasses as another memento of the occasion. A former member who transferred away visited and transferred back to our Post.

We are proud of the compliments on our updated rooms, our attendance, and our plans for the future. We are most proud of our members and volunteers. They make all the difference in the world. Looking forward to another 90 years. Enjoy the photos of the weekend. Thank you for reading. Videos posted separately, on VFW Post 2503 FB page.

Friday Fun/Saturday Plans

Friday evening, we attended the kickoff for the weekend of fun and celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the VFW Post 2503. Blessings abound with this celebration. A small group of plucky veterans from WWI and their wives, smack in the middle of the depression, started a branch of the national VFW organization. It yielded the VFW Post 2503 and the VFW Post 2503 Auxiliary. There was a heyday in the 60s where the place packed them in every Friday and Saturday nights. We have met children of older members who “grew up in the place, playing shuffleboard.” The adult kids have wonderful memories of the events and friendships.

Things changed. In the time we’ve been active members, many of the older folks have passed away. We miss our friends. We’ve met many good people and enjoy friendships with them. It’s also a lot of hours, time spent, and learning new ways to help Veterans.

Engaging in war has changed dramatically since WWI. Combat soldiers are now male and female. PTS(D) is a recognized condition that needs to be dealt with. We are losing too many of our military brothers and sisters. 22 a day is the estimated number of Veterans who commit suicide each day in the United States. This is unacceptable. We can do more to assist and support them. Their training teaches them how t fight, kill, rebuild cities and infrastructure. We do not train them how to quell their demons or re-join society. Alcohol and drugs do not help the issues, they just become another layer of issues masking the actual issues.

One of our members is smoking brisket (100 pounds of it!) for the Post’s Anniversary Dinner later. After dinner, entertainment by our friend, Jimmy Weber is on the agenda. It’ll be great to see him, have dinner, and listen to his band for a few hours. I see a lot of friendship revivals happening this weekend. It’s the stuff celebrations exist for.

We’ll share the highlights tomorrow, and also talk about our first Car Show for the summer. It is also a day for breakfast, so the joint is jumping all weekend! Take care, see you tomorrow.

Veterans Day, 2021

Today is a day for our very special Veterans. All that we enjoy today is because of them and their sacrifices. The freedoms we enjoy are not seen in any other country. We are safer with them at the ready. They don’t think twice about it. Love of their country and freedom are what keep them at their posts. All six branches of the services combined create the well oiled machine that is the Military of the United States of America. Old Veterans would marvel at drone technology used today. I know my dad would. He’d want to work the darned things!

I’ve mentioned before the three photos my Grandma Jewell had in her living room. Each in a corner, either black and white or sepia finished, her three sons in their military uniforms. All handsome, young, trained, and ready to go. The patriotism the men of this era had is recounted in old war movies, songs, and the general mood of the times. Folks at home planted gardens to ease the burden of the grocery system at the time, so the troops would have what they needed. Mom recounted the shortages on toilet paper, soap, and other items like sugar. Everyone did their part. Could we do that now? I would hope, but many folks wouldn’t.

The message I took away from seeing those photographs subliminally at every visit sits deep in the fabric that is me. I cannot imagine life without that early exposure to the Patriots around me. All the men in our neighborhood and family served in the military. Of my three brothers, one was 4F, one not the right age during the draft, and one went to the reserves, at the time, the 915 Transportation Unit from Council Bluffs, Iowa. He would have gladly gone if called up.

My husband Dan served in Vietnam, many years before we met. It left him a haunted soul, like many of the young men who served there. My dad, after serving in WWII and Korea, told me once, “A jungle war is so different than a war fought in cities and towns. The mindset of the enemy is very different, too. The bottom line is, the enemy wants to kill you in whatever barbaric way they can.” He should know; he was in combat as a medic “aide.” They were on the battlefield, did not have weapons, and running to assess and aid the wounded. He was a surgical tech in the MASH tents of Korea. He saw the damages. And he was awarded two bronze stars. My dad, gentleman, loving father and grandfather, and quintessential bad ass. He was a quiet man, just went about his business, never wanting any attention. Many of our Veterans are the same way.

After having these experiences, it’s no wonder our troops have difficulty merging back into life at home. They are not the same as when they left. We need to find ways to help them adjust, and we need to adjust, too. Nothing is the same once they return home.

Recognizing that, we have an Art exhibit by Liz Boutin, and an information fair at the VFW Post 2503 today. The Post opens at noon, and we have lots of tables for you to visit with various agencies and groups for the Veterans. Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 22 Veteran Suicide Awareness Association from Council Bluffs, grief materials from Centering Corporation in Omaha, and some vendors. Come, have a great spaghetti meal between 4 – 7 p.m. and attend our Ceremony at 6 p.m. Corporal Daegan Page’s family will receive a special gift that was sent to us by a gentleman in Texas. I will share it with you tomorrow. It’s breath-taking.

Let us honor our keepers of freedom. Let us remember their sacrifices. We can never thank them enough.

November 8-Grateful

Another day to have something declared as what I’m grateful for. So many things to count! The encouragement from my friends to continue writing has been very nice. Your friends who support you are good ones to have as you get your sea legs about you. I’m grateful for all of you!

Yesterday was my son Nick’s birthday. Forty six years old, I can’t believe how the time has gone by. Nick was a smaller baby than Frankie was, but he got much taller and filled out in high school. The fact he has a 5 o’clock shadow at 5 a.m. after shaving is probably enough to say he looked much older than he is. Probably never got carded like his brother did. It’s over, and I’m glad to not have to deal with those days again. Nothing ages a single Mom more than having a child who looks much older than he is. I’m grateful those single Mom days are over. It was hard, but I’d still make the same decisions I did.

So many people we know have had some bad health issues; strokes, heart attacks, cancer, are all hard to recover from. We’ve seen cancer, broken bones, heart disease, a stroke, and a host of other issues. We are so fortunate we are still mobile, living independently, and having a great future ahead of us. The Babe is 71 and I’m 69. I told him the other morning, I hope we get another 20 years together. You never know; with God all things are possible!

I’m behind on NaNoWriMo. I loitered today instead of getting caught up. The Babe put it well. “Don’t make it a job.” Well, it doesn’t hurt to do it every day, to spread it out, but it felt good to sort of play hooky. I caught up on Yellowstone, (until the Babe got home and caught the end of the NASCAR Race), wrote some scenes out, and recharged. It was necessary.

Today, I need to catch up with posting all the info about Veterans Day at the VFW Post 2503. Resource lists must be compiled, then printed and copies made. Any posting about the events should be available for those who check the Events on Facebook to plan their week. Today will be busier than the usual Monday for sure.

Not sure what we’ll be doing Thanksgiving, but I think we’ll cook. Not sure if we’ll get a turkey, but I think it’s worth getting one, I’d even make it later if necessary. The traditional food is so full of carbs, what I may do is only make a very small dish of dressing, sweet potatoes, and veggies. I will make the normal amount of mashed potatoes, gravy, and dinner rolls. That should balance out all good, shouldn’t it?

Keto is hard during the holidays, but we started it last November, and lost a lot of weight before New Years. I will not gain it back this year. And I won’t next year. At this stage in life it is too hard to lose 45 pounds and I don’t want to have to do it again. I need to stay on top of it. Last year, we skipped all the goodies for the most part, and I have three pumpkin smoothies in the freezer. Will it be as good as pumpkin pie? Give me enough whipped cream and it will. Heavy Cream, Whipped, is allowed on KETO. They knew what they were doing with that one!

Hope your Monday is a good one. Take care, and let’s see each other again tomorrow.

Fabulous Friday Night!

The Babe and I attended a fundraiser last night for Toys for Tots and Guitars for Vets Nebraska. For nearly a year, our VFW Post has lent support to this great organization. G4V helps vets with PTSD learn to play the guitar, by offering ten free lessons with a qualified instructor. When they complete their instruction, they receive their own brand new guitar and accessories. Last night was an in person ceremony and the first public graduation ever.

Peggy Frye Ullom, a/k/a Taylor is the founder of the Nebraska Chapter. She is committed to helping other Vets who suffer silently from PTSD. It’s no secret she is committed to the nth degree. She is a leader who has a true heart for the mission of the group which is to help the Vets cope with their individual situations. She understands the task and fully supports the mission; she is one of the Vets with PTSD. Total honesty is her mantra, and it helps people open up and be vulnerable in their quest for a more normal life. It is with pleasure I now call her a friend.

The friendships that grow by getting involved in our community is phenomenal. When many like-minded people gather for the good of others, only great relationships can develop. I can hardly wait to see how things go next year, but I’m not about to wish my time away. December will find us regrouping, and structuring our Post Outreach more. There are a couple more groups we would like to become involved with and will investigate that further after Veterans Day/the Christmas Season. Only good can come of being involved.

Ken Sitler and Jimmy Weber, two local retired Air Force Veterans performed last night, too. They are always great to listen to. Their banter is pretty funny, and they had a couple Veterans who are musically inclined join them. One could no longer play guitar after having a stroke; he joined Jimmy and sang. I’m sure that made his year! It’s those kinds of meetings that develop into friendships that result from events like last night.

We’re grateful all these people made Omaha home after their military careers. Not just the three mentioned, but Dave (sorry, I don’t know your last name!), David J Mike and his lovely wife Gail, and all the other instructors I’ve haven’t gotten to know yet. The area is enriched with your presence. Grateful for all of you.

I know what music does for me; I’m sure it “works” in relieving anxiety, stress, and horrible events. Time, and learning how to cope is the best thing we can do for folks who need this. Art, drawing, performing, all give the same effect, it’s why the “arts” were created. When I was a kid, I was bullied. Most everyone was. I’d come into our house, and go to my room. That song by the Beach Boys became my theme song, “In My Room.” Sometimes I resolve bad moods or thoughts by being alone, listening to music. It always makes a huge difference.

As the Babe and I, along with our other volunteers from the VFW Post 2503, finish up on the Veterans Day Celebration of Veterans, we are cognizant of needs of our Veterans. The events in Afghanistan have shaken some to the core. They’re angry, needing to vent, and trying to figure out a lot of things. We are holding the Second Annual Clothing and Food Drive for Moving Veterans Forward and the Sienna Francis House. Two of our younger Veterans called last year to see if they could leave a trailer in the parking lot, and collect coats, for the homeless. Check the Post website @ http://www.vfwpost2503.org to view the list of needs for the food and clothing drive. We will also have Toys for Tots donation boxes available.

Last year at this time, we just became acquainted with Victory Apartments and Moving Veterans Forward. We coordinated with MVF and initiated monthly donations for them. It’s been a very worthwhile endeavor, which we will continue for years to come.

So much good has been generated with those two new guys who wanted to do something meaningful for their fellow Veterans. They have launched many good events; Car Shows benefiting Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, Nebraska COPS, and the family of Corporal Daegan Page. The potential is mind boggling. Work by many becomes light. Thanks, guys.

We are also offering an Art Show by Liz Boutin. She is a Bellevue artist and military wife. She has journaled her way through working with the Red Cross Hospital in Germany, and working with Veterans from Iraq & Afghanistan at their first stop after becoming injured. The exhibit shows how PTSD can be worked with through Art. Liz will be present all day Veterans Day if you’d like to visit with her. She will also speak at our Veterans Day Ceremony, on November 11, 2021 at 6 p.m. Her art is available all week to view by members and friends. All are welcome.

There will also be resources available for referrals for Guitars for Vets, Moving Veterans Forward, 22 Until None in Council Bluffs, and other organizations on a list we’ll have available for you to have. We will have a representative from the VA who can register you for your VA Benefits on site, you won’t have to go to the VA Hospital. We want to make it as easy as possible for you or your loved one to receive benefits they deserve.

We cannot guarantee your souls can be repaired like new; we can guarantee you will not be alone. VFW Post 2503. 90th and Military Road, Omaha, NE 68134. Join us!

Mistakes Are Made

Mistakes are made by humans every day. Most folks I deal with are pretty forgiving. I admit to them I messed up, and some will claim their part of the responsibility. The best thing a boss of mine used to say was, “I don’t care who did it, I’d like you to correct it for me, please.” I think that was an important lesson to me, what a good boss would do. All that mattered was the error was corrected and not allowed to stand.

That was when I worked in an old Personnel Department. Shortly after I started working there, they became the “Human Resources Department.” We entered the big time then! I learned so much for the leaders in that department. I was focused on building a career, and became successful, learning to create opportunities. It was a valuable lesson.

Sometimes when we make mistakes, it takes a great deal of energy and preparation to correct the mistakes, especially if other people are involved. I’ve seen this in my personal life. I have chosen people to date that were not good for me. It took me a long time to admit that out loud, and even to myself. It’s easier to place blame. Sure, the other person was wrong, and so were we. I can freely admit it now. As I just did. It gets easier once you do it often.

In admitting when we’ve made mistakes offers closure. We’re not the victim. We claim our part of the mistake. We correct ourselves. And we have a lesson on how to choose better in the future. Take your time! I’ve told people before you select a mate, wait until you get to the three year mark. The first year is an infatuation phase. You may think something is cute now, but it will be tiring and not good three years from now. The second year, you express differences and see how you deal with them. The behavior here is more real life. The third year, when you make it to the fourth, is when the proof is in the pudding.

Wait a minute. What does that phrase mean? I looked up in the Urban Dictionary online. The rest of the phrase is; “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The original phrase means you have to consume the pudding before you can judge how good it is. The modern meaning of it is “There is a lot of evidence that I will not go into at the moment that will prove my point, you simply need to take my word for it.” It’s interesting that is just a perfect definition once you’ve passed the three year mark. It often takes that long for bad behaviors to appear. I’ve overlooked those bad behaviors and haven’t made it to a fourth year of dating.Wherever you are in your life, making the right choices for important things like living arrangements, business deals, relationships, trusting other people, and even intimacy requires making good decisions based on evidence, your gut instincts, and how you’ve seen with this person behave. It all is evidence for how good the pudding actually is.

Learning to take calculated risks wasn’t easy. I’m getting better at it. The first time is the hardest, since it’s a change of previous habits. Just keep with it. You learn even if the worst happens, chances are if you tweak it a little next time, you’ll be successful. Giving up is failure. Keeping at it just might work this time. Kind of like writing. Which I need to get to today, this Monday, July 26th, 2021. Errands to run first for the Car Show Benefit at the Post on Sunday, August 1. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. If you’re in the Omaha, Nebraska area, join us, won’t you? Bid on some great Silent Auction Items. Help out a couple great causes!

Friday, Finally!

Today marks post #675. July is only half over and we’ve covered a lot of ground with life. The Post hosted a Car Show/Fundraiser for Nebraska COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors). I’m proud to announce we raised $2,020. We met the goal I had of $1,400. The rest is just extra cushion for their bank account. The funds were raised for transportation, lodging, and expenses for three Nebraska Law Enforcement Officers’ families who lost their loved one in duty related deaths in 2019 and 2020. Our volunteers at the Post are phenomenal. Couldn’t have done this without them.

Now we are gearing up to host Mr. Rick Tiger at the Post this evening. The Babe and I met him a few years ago, have all seven of his CD’s, and like the memories he raises when we listen to the words of his songs. It will be an enjoyable evening for sure. Then the work begins again!

We are planning a presentation of checks to some of the organizations we fundraise for. We plan to invite the media, Nebraska COPS representatives, Moving Veterans Forward representatives, and Guitars for Vets representatives. It should be a good event, and educate people a little more about who we are and what we do.

In my spare time (!), I’m Facetiming with Cartney today, to discuss our book. Hope we can successfully complete our project at least by December 31. Publishing your first book in the year you turn 70 is a worthy goal. Cross your fingers! Say your prayers! It’ll be an adventure. Have a beautiful day, be kind and gracious, and courteous. It might make someone’s day!

Terrific Tuesday!

It’s another beautiful morning out there at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. When mornings start like this, it just sets you up for blessings all day. Sure, some days we have to work at it. Some days you have to really look for things that are good, that are going well. For many years, things weren’t that great finacially, and being a single parent is hard. You have to keep going, though. We all do now, too. Whether we’re a grandma, a 50 year old single guy, a 44 year old Veteran, or a 75 year old widow. We have to work at it. Only then does it become a habit.

The month of July, I’m challenging myself, and you, if you’d like to join me, to do 71 squats a day. With my knees and other orthopedic issues, I’m doing “sink squats.” They’re modified and work perfectly well. I will amass 2201 squats by the end of the month. I’m only reporting here, and keeping track in my mind. The 2200 is a challenge for the 22 Veterans a day who are committing suicide. We need to help them, if they will allow it. We can do a lot if we can get through to them.

PTSD is nothing new. I’m sure my father had it. He worked patching folks up after gathering them up from the battlefields of WWII and Korea. I remember him having a faraway look at times. I can only guess where he was. But he wasn’t present, that’s for sure. He was meticulous about fixing up cuts, scrapes, bruises, and recording temps if we were sick. He did the same for me when my kids were sick. Since he worked nights, he took care of them for me. He was the best! Gosh, I miss him.

I finally have time today to listen to/view my $97 bargain Master Class on Journey to Kidlit. I’m going to use the day for it, and learn all the things I’ve missed or not known about my kid book. Should be a great day! Feel free to learn something new today. I love when that happens! We’re never too old and it’s never too late. See you tomorrow! We should have lots of fun stuff to talk about. BTW. Only 22 days until my Apple ID gets unlocked. OH! And we’re getting back on the KETO way of life. I’ve not gained any weight, still at 30 pounds lost. I’m going for more. I feel so much better. More tomorrow!