My current featured series is all about helping out servicemen and women in and after combat. Click the name of the post to read the entire story.
Let us not forget:
For those who have seen combat in the two wars we are fighting right now, there are a (much needed) growing number of resources to help them with the readjustment. While this is great, there is still a portion of the returning vets that are getting left behind: The women veterans.
Coping with PTSD as a society:
new data shows that there is an increased strain on the mental health of returning service men and women, and often times the military is unable to provide proper medicine, counseling, or even simple self awareness for the issue.
A little over a month ago I embarked on a new journey. I was discussing fitness and diet with a friend, and he mentioned that he was a fan of the Paleo diet. Now... this is yet another in a long line of fad diets that have come along over the years, but I was actually able to jump onto this bandwagon with some great results.
Over the coming days I will share my initial results, what worked, what didn't... and share my evolution on this journey.
Where do we go from here? We've done the diet talk, we've done the mental health talk... we've done a lot of talking. I was trying to think of something to talk about here, something to make up for my lack of blogginess, and I actually realized that there was a reason I hadn't been blogging.
Not that I only blog when I'm not happy, but I initially started out the blog (long, long ago, on a chacha server far, far away) with the intent of helping people through hard times in their lives, and ultimately to help myself.... talking just to talk.
Over the last couple years, some things have changed. I'm in a great relationship that has become very solid. I found a career that I love, and I really mean that. I work for a company that sure seems to give a crap about me, there are now two dogs destroying my house at any given time... life is good.
Yea, great. I know... I'm a jerk. But, let's take this in a new direction. What to do with the good times in your life so that you appreciate them?
We're going to start looking at some new approaches to a healthy life. Since the issues faced by returning vets is still a huge point of focus for me, the featured section above will continue to run posts pertaining to this very important issue...
We've been talking about the "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" Program for the last couple blogs. Today I'll finish up with discussing how this program benefits the family members of the soldiers that have served overseas.
The families of soldiers are welcome and encouraged to join them for each of the three sessions. While the soldiers are talking with each other and learning how to cope with reintegration, their family members get the very valuable opportunity to talk with other families going through the same process. Spouses have the chance to talk with others who have spent the last year(s) holding down the family while their loved one was away. They get the chance to talk with other people in their community and learn coping techniques, self awareness, and more.
It is important to remember that more than just the soldiers are affected by the stresses of combat. Their families often times sacrifice more than we can ever imagine. This is why it is extremely important to offer such "Support Group" programs that involve not only the returning soldiers, but their families as well.
If you or someone you know has a family member who has served or is serving overseas, check to see what your local government is doing to support returning troops and their families. The VA Homepage for returning veterans is a good place to start, but several states have initiated programs like "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon". Check with your local government to see what they offer, as national legislation has been passed creating programs based on Minnesota's model.
Today we're going to take a look at a program that my state has initiated for the service men and women returning from combat.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is a program that Minnesota has implemented and is now a requirement for all returning national guard soldiers. This program involves three day long classes, usually 30, 60, and 90 days after returning to civilian life.
Emphasis in the program is placed on the mental health of participants, many of whom carried out highly stressful missions in Iraq. National Guard officials here want to identify and help soldiers who may be showing some of the early signs of post-deployment anxiety or difficulty adjusting and coping at home. These early signs include:
Sudden frustration at mention of the war.
A compulsive need for a clean, perfectly ordered house.
Next we'll take a look at one of the most successful (and crucial) parts of the program, "Battle Buddies".
In the last blog I talked about the "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" program that Minnesota has started for returning National Guard Soldiers.
Unlike the regular military, the reservists and National Guard are thrust directly back into civilian life after returning from deployment. There is no adjustment time, and there is very little exit training. Traditional military offers TAP (Transition Assistance Program) for service men and women leaving active duty. This program is shortened or non-existent for reservists.
Beyond the Yellow Ribbon offers this transition assistance in the form of anger counseling, grief management, and simple reminders of transitional issues, such as: "Remember, grunting is not a form of communication".
This program also pairs soldiers with fellow veterans that have gone through the same program, and in turn allows them to talk with someone that has gone through the same battles they have. Many times reservists return home and scatter to small towns across the state, often with no one to talk to or no one who understands what they have gone through.
A few years ago a company I was working for sent me to a management training class. It was an amazing class. In addition to teaching me how to improve my interactions with my employees and customers, it also made me take a look at myself. I had to define my management style, create a list of my core values, and write a plan for bettering myself as a person, all to realize my potential as a manager. And I got to watch FISH! again!
I recently came across the folder from that training, and the list of core values and goals I set for myself. Now, these weren’t short term goals, theses were lifetime goals. One of them stuck out …
Leave a legacy.
It’s something most people hope to do in their lives. Some people’s legacies are their children, or the work they do that changes a process, or how they touch other’s lives. What is my legacy going to be? It only seems natural:
Water has been a huge part of my life. As a child swimming every weekend in the great lakes, as a dive master in the Caribbean, on ships, hard hat diving in the gulf. I love water, and I’ve been lucky enough to have an abundance of it in my life…
But many people don’t. I’ve seen the devastation that is caused by a lack of water, women carrying water from wells miles away for their family, children sick from drinking tainted water. I can fix that. I can make a difference. I found out that $10 can give one person fresh water for 10 years. Really. But that’s not enough. I found this site thru change.org:
The Water project lets people help bring fresh water to schools in Africa and India. Each well services the school and surrounding community, and can bring fresh water to over a thousand people. And each well… well, it only costs $5,000. That’s right, $5,000 will give hundreds, if not a thousand, water for at least 10 years.
I’ve found my legacy, the pickle jar is already starting to fill up.
It’s a bright and sunny Sunday morning, mother’s day in fact. I’ve been up since 5:30 baking bread, marinating meat, and getting the grill ready for the family to stop by. Cup o’ coffee in hand, I sat down to watch some TV, when the Rottweiler came up and put her head on my knee.
If you have a dog, you know. Thru good times and bad, happiness and depression, and life in general, that dog is the one who keeps you grounded. I try every day to be the man my dog thinks I am.