Veterans Day Blues

One of my sons is an army veteran.  He was deployed to Iraq and spent a volatile 15 months as an infantry Sergeant in and around Baghdad. I cried every single day he was gone. I prayed to God every day to keep him safe. Every single day God told me to end my prayer by singing the Doxology of “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow”. It seemed weird but I had to do it. Maybe God just wanted me to praise Him through the tumult and so I did.

After my son’s deployment ended, a part of him returned to the United States. A part of him was missing forever. My son came back as a stranger to us and a stranger to himself. He has spent the last few years trying to find himself and heal from wounds that are not visible. He has PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and multiple blast TBI (traumatic brain injury).

My son is a talented carpenter who sometimes doesn’t know the word for hammer, wrench, or level. My son is a lover of nature who sometimes goes for a walk in the woods behind his home and suddenly does not know where he is or how to get home. My son is a loving devoted husband and father who fades away from his wife and daughters at times, as he remembers the atrocities of war, especially on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

My son is a Pastor who reaches out to others with PTSD and other wounds of war. He can relate to them in a way that no other Pastor in our area is able. I have questioned God as to why He has not healed my son. But maybe the very reason is so my son can reach out to those with PTSD in their darkest hours and give them hope.

 

 

 

Line of Duty

My husband and I just returned from a camping trip. We enjoyed the wonderful changing colors of the landscape. I am so grateful for this day, this life and this world of natural beauty.

We got back home about 3 hours ago and the first thing I did was take 4 days of soggy, wet mail from the mailbox. There was a letter from the Department of the Army addressed to my husband. Of course, I immediately alerted my husband who immediately opened and read it. Enclosed was the Report of Investigation Line of Duty and Misconduct Status Report plus the State of Medical Examination and Duty Status Report.

Department of Army, your black and white army speak reports state that the soldier reported for weekend duty, was released for the evening and didn’t return at the appointed time the following morning. A welfare search ensued. He was found deceased in his vehicle. Medical Diagnosis: Acute Ethanol Intoxication.

I’m sorry Department of Army, but you missed a few sections in your reports. My husband’s son (my stepson) completed several overseas missions including Afghanistan and Iraq. Our boy, who had a huge fear of flying, shoved that fear down and sat in the cargo hold of a shaking plane, dropped out of it in the dark, landed in the desert and waited for his contact in hostile territory.   Your reports are incomplete. He couldn’t sleep at night due to recurring nightmares. Not just nightmares, but images of things he had actually seen and done while serving his country.  Flashbacks that haunted him, kept him up at night and ate at his soul. Yet, he would willingly do it all again because he was a good soldier and a loyal soldier. Army was structure and it was how he functioned best. He was a brave, loyal, honest, sincere, kind, funny and loving person. He was a loving and devoted father to his sons and he was a beloved son to us. I don’t see that in the reports. Department of Army, you get a flunking grade for those reports. They are incomplete.

We tried to help him with everything we had in us. Several times he went to detox but not for the right reasons. He didn’t try for his own sake until the last time of rehab. Finally, he really wanted to beat this addiction and recover. We were so hopeful! Thrilled!! Everything we hoped and prayed for was coming together and we could just imagine a much better life for him. He stuck with it for the full 30 day inpatient program, made his own arrangements to get back home and had already set up an appointment with a counselor locally. Our boy had just been released from a 30 day in-patient alcoholics program of which he voluntarily entered.  Life was good. Three days later, he was dead.

I’ll never understand it. But, I would like the world to know that I couldn’t be prouder of him. He did the absolute best he could.  Shouldn’t we all?

Begin at the beginning

Hmmm. So much to share but don’t know where to begin so I will begin my story with my first traumatic experience at age 5. My father committed suicide. The last memory of my father is of him coming to my Aunt’s house. We were playing outside. He came to the yard, put us in the car and drove away. I remember that I was excited because this was going to be a surprise for my mother. “Is it perfume?” I asked. I don’t remember his answer but I know it wasn’t the surprise.

A little backstory: my mother wanted to divorce my father. She had met another man who made her feel loved and special. This other man was also married. I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of what transpired between the two of them and don’t need to know. I don’t blame my mother or the other man or my father. Anyway, my mother and the other man arranged a meeting with their current spouses and stated that they wanted to divorce and marry each other. Long story short, my mother decided to give her marriage another try and we all picked up and moved for a fresh start.

Sometime shortly after, in a new State, my father intercepted letters between my mother and the other man. At the time of the big “S” (suicide), the other man was in the same vicinity and he and my mother had made contact. The other man wanted to take mother, me and my siblings back to our original home town. He felt like we were all in danger.

Back to the big “S” …. My father drove us to our house, took us inside, sat us down and told us to stay there. In the meantime, my mother discovered we were missing. My aunt and my mother pulled up outside in my aunt’s car. My oldest brother, seeing a chance to escape, grabbed me and my other brother and ran out the door. I’m 5. I have no real idea of what is going on. We are on the steps leading down from the porch. My mom is at the bottom of the steps screaming for us to get in the car. We get in the car. My Aunt tells us to get down in the floorboard. I can’t resist looking up and out the car window. My father is on the porch pointing a gun alternately at himself and at my mother. She is yelling “go ahead, you can’t hurt me anymore”. He slowly shakes his head and walks inside the front door. Mother gets in the passenger side of the car and my aunt drives away.

I will share more of this story later. My heart is pounding and it is still so overwhelming. I’ve had 55 years to come to terms with it but I need a break before I continue.