Can you help a brother out…
Hello from wild and wonderful West Virginia. Most of you probably don’t know about the chemical spill here in my home state. Last Thursday, a local chemical company had a leak in one of their holding tanks. They accidently released approximately 7,500 gallons of a foaming agent used in the coal mining process into one of the local rivers. Unfortunately for me and over 300,000 other people in the Kanawha Valley, the water treatment plant for the local water provider is a mile downstream from the chemical company. The water company was forced to issue a do not use order to all of their customers, for almost a week we have been limited in our water consumption. If you care, here is a descent story that documents the event. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/west-virginia-water-emergency-nears-fifth-day-with-no-end-in-sight/2014/01/12/9d0959bc-7b88-11e3-9556-4a4bf7bcbd84_story.html
Fortunately for all of us, the chemical isn’t lethal except in very high doses so the toilets and fire hydrants are still useable. But you can’t drink it, bath with it, or wash with it. Not a crisis by any stretch of the imagination, but it is very inconvenient. Scotty, my good friend in the Guard told me that if I felt a burning sensation on my backside, it wasn’t herpes. It was the chemical and nothing to worry about.
At this very moment, I am at woman’s house washing the family’s clothes. I basically broke into her house. I drank all of her husband’s moonshine, and took a long hot shower after I snooped through her underwear drawer. I’m bored so now I am writing a post. Yes, all of this is fiction. I am trying to work on crafting stories and this is much more interesting than the truth.
The truth is that this lady and her husband are dear friends of my family. My wife has been friends with this lady for almost 20 years, we vacation with them every summer and my daughter is like a sister with their oldest daughter. Since last week, they have constantly offered their house for showers, laundry dish washing, and anything else we need. So I really didn’t break in, I have the garage code. Like me, her husband doesn’t drink so even if he had moonshine I would not partake; unlike me, he is one of those magical people that honestly lives his Faith. his vice is an affinity for good smelling Yankee Candles. I think she has a nanny cam so I am staying away from the underwear drawer. I’m waving to the camera now, ha ha. All of that is the truth, I swear on the nanny cam.
For now, I would like to publically thank everyone who has offered their homes, showers, and water to my family. This is the second time in the past couple of years that the state of West Virginia has been impacted by the lack of services. Two summers ago, we suffered an unexpected wind storm called a derecho. It took out the power of the east coast; we were out of power for nine days. We thrived during the event because of so many great friends and family. We were like locust, moving into someone’s home, eating all the food and then leaving a trail of dirty dishes in our wake. This disaster we are water sluts. We walk in, talk sweet, remove our clothes, take what we want, and leave with no promise that we will ever call again. I am amazed that we have any friends left.
It is only when problems come into our lives do we find out that people are still good, loving, and welcoming. In my neighborhood, I drive too fast down my street, I hit the garage door opener three houses away, pull in and close the door without waving to anyone. My neighbors are the same way because we all live in our own little worlds. But when something happens to a neighbor or the entire community, we collectively pull together and help cope with the issues at hand. I know I talk big sometimes, but the reality is that we all need each other. We all need community and we all need friendships. Not so when something happens we can get free stuff. We need friends so that when something happens in their life, we can be there to make their lives better. That is where true self-worth is found.
I have a couple of on line blogger friends who have been reporting that there is an increased rise in suicides in our veteran community. My blogger friend, Padre Steve told about his former commander who shot himself last week. This particular veteran was a true warrior, the former Commander of the Navy EOD (Explosive, Ordinance, Disposal) forces. These guys are no joke. I worked with them several times when I was in the Air Force. I am sure we are all familiar with the Navy S.E.A.L.s. These guys went through the exact same training but call themselves gaskets, as opposed to seals. They are bad dudes in every sense of the word.
Before Iraq kicked off, I spent a week in Norfolk, VA at the Naval Air Station. Our mission was to get up before dawn and load a team of these quiet professionals onto the airplane. A couple of times they had their fast attack boats on board, sometimes they had a rubber raiding craft, a couple of days it was just them with a set of flippers. We would fly out over the water at 9,999 feet to a distance between five and fifteen miles. Why not 10,000 feet you might ask, because at 10,000 feet we all have to breathe oxygen and no one likes doing that. At one foot below the mandatory oxygen level, these guys would say good bye and jump out. We would stay overhead until they called to report they were all okay. We went to eat breakfast and get a tan on the beach. They swam back.
They spent the week jumping out and swimming back, all the while wondering the entire time how could life be any better? I didn’t know Captain Sitsch, but I once met several men who were list like him. Here is the link to Padre Steve’s site documenting his friendship with Navy Captain Tom Sitsch. http://padresteve.com/2014/01/09/a-foreign-world-the-high-cost-of-coming-home-from-war/
When I hear a story about one of these guys taking his own life. I take notice. Captain Sitsch was dealing with something serious. The myth is that these guys don’t feel anything, that they are robots and can kill us all with the snap of their fingers. The truth is they are human too. They have seen things that most of us could never comprehend. But they are not alone, in your community right now, there is a Veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan that has PTSD. It is a fact and you might be uniquely positioned to help that person. You might not have a military background but do not discount what role you can have in the healing process. They need to know that someone cares. You care, show them that you care. Don’t just say that you are proud of them. Maybe some vets like that, I don’t. Many of the things I did, I don’t take pride in. I was just doing my job, nothing more. The person you know was just doing a job. Don’t say anything, show them.
Ask them what time of year they deployed. The odds are that period of time is when they are the most vulnerable. My tough time is the spring time, March through April then it gets better as the summer approaches. I wish I knew why, but that is when I am the most irritable. By the way, I don’t think I have PTSD, I don’t think I have a small touch of it. I do know that for those people who really have it, it is serious. Back to the people you know, you can ask them if there is a time of year they are anxious or nervous. If like me, it is a specific time of year then make an extra effort to call them or invite them over for a cookout. Be their friend. Ask them to tell stories about their experiences, don’t be afraid. Ask them. They will tell you, I promise.
Just be a friend to them and to their family. Their families suffered while they were gone. They need the love of a neighbor just as much as the Veteran does. If you think your Vet needs to speak with someone, encourage them to contact someone. If they don’t know anyone, don’t have a computer, a cell phone and they live in a van down by the river. Get in touch with me; I am glad to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere. I can’t speak for Padre Steve, but I know he feels exactly the same. Anyone, anytime, anywhere. Padre Steve listed some resources for the Vets. http://padresteve.com/2014/01/11/the-enduring-crisis-suicides-in-veterans-spiking/
I recently found another blogger who is publically dedicating herself to the battle with PTSD. I don’t know her name, where she lives or anything else about her other than she is a vet, but I speak for her too. Anyone, anytime, anywhere. You can view her story and blog at this link. http://icombatstress.com/2014/01/14/how-certain-events-in-iraq-changed-me/
I know there are millions veterans in the United States and we were all trained to give all for our buddies in uniform. No matter the age of the Vet, 100 to 18. We are all out here and we all care for each other. If you have a cookout for your neighbor, invite anyone else you know who served. They will recognize each other, they will talk and maybe they will be able to help each other out. The important thing is to help our current Vets find a path through their struggles and even more important is that they know they are not alone.
My laundry is finished so this rant must end. Please let your Vet friends know you are around and that you care. One step at a time and maybe collectively we can prevent another life ended too soon. Until next time, keep on rockin’.