Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wounded Warrior Care Summit

          Yesterday was a fascinating day.  With two very special caregivers from Mologne House at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I attended the DoD/Warrior Transition Care Summit in Leesburg, Virginia after being asked to accompany them and to provide transportation. 
          You all know that I am humbled and truly respect all caregivers for their unrelenting optimism and perseverance, but rarely have I seen such grace and strength when these women presented their stories.  There were five remarkable caregivers on the panel, but I will share my thoughts about the two I accompanied.
          One is the sister of a seriously injured Marine and his fulltime caregiver, and at 24 years of age, has poise and presence beyond her years.  The other is the mother of a seriously injured female soldier, formerly a successful marketing professional and now fulltime caregiver - articulate and succinct in her thoughts regarding improvement.  They were marvelous representatives to share the genuine Caregiving Reality in this setting. And, they both want to be change agents in improving the combat recovery caregiving experience. 
          Caregivers are so often invisible. Not yesterday, however! The experienced participant group at the Summit listened attentively to the details these two caregivers shared regarding gaps in communication, education, medical care, 'customer service', and specific situations they would not have otherwise known. This information resonated with the group who were gathered to consider and recommend "best practices" to the DoD.  The takeaway message:  There is simply no One-Size-Fits-All caregiving solution, and change requires care, compassion, and an innovative view to modify the status quo.
          You amazing caregivers are all such critical elements in the recovery and rehabilitation of our wounded, ill, or injured troops.  Consider speaking on panels, sharing your experiences, and taking a good look at the lessons learned and the alternatives you would suggest if given the opportunity. We may not all have public forums like yesterday's, but you do have the ability to speak out here and to share your thoughts safely and without judgement.  Our nation is woefully unaware of the family/friend assistance required for the continuum of care. Please consider sharing it whenever you can.
          We talked on the way home that each time a caregiver speaks about their daily lives, it changes the preconceived notions of those listening.  My belief is that those present yesterday will not view Caregivers with a singular label or visual in the future, but instead see real people who need compassionate, well-informed people to help alter the way things have always been done.  
          Brava to both women for their candid and compassionate rhetoric on behalf of their vets!  Now the focus shifts to the participant group to take those challenges to heart and create momentum and action for improvement. 
          We all hope the timing is very soon!
All my best,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Dreadful Power of Words

I cannot help but see the pain and suffering written about on the forum, and which is caused by words.
I noted particularly two instances. One woman who wrote about her husband being told that, ‘he did not deserve his disability rating,’ if I remember that correctly. The other was a woman who was told she was ‘drug seeking’ when she was in pain.
It is hard enough to deal with this kind of thoughtless, rude and spiteful behavior when we are feeling good and able to cope with life. For someone who is already dealing with overwhelming problems, words like this can send them perilously close to the edge. What our loved ones suffer, we suffer with them and for them.
I sat wondering why people have to be so cruel, angry or mean spirited as to have to inflict this kind of pain on others. These are obviously not ignorant or poorly educated people. If they were, their words would not carry as much weight. These are people who are intelligent enough to hold down a job, have got some kind of formal education, and are in a position to inflict hurt. Why do they? What do they get out of this? I can only assume that it is some kind of power trip. They get their thrill on having power over others. Sadly it is the same kind of power trip that abusers use to keep abusing their wives or children or their animals. These people are weak inside. They have no power over self, so they use what they have to power over others.
It is a tragedy that they are in positions to cause so much pain to those who least deserve it. I wonder how many suicides have been caused by spiteful and twisted remarks to people who have no ability to see these words for what they are – painful evidence of a soul in torment because it cannot deal with its own junk.
It takes the power of many strong and supportive words to help undo the damage caused by one malicious word. We caregivers spend our days offering kind, gentle and supportive words to our Vets and our families, yet many still have time to offer support to others. It is only by this that we survive.
Our words are important and certainly they are not the least of all the other important things we do.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

How true is this?

The following lyrics are to a current popular song. It played over and over in my head last night. Unfortunately in my mind it was playing because I truly felt that his song could be directly  used not as a song from a  man to a woman but by how our Vets felt/still fell about the United States and how they are treated by the VA once they are done sucking the life out of them. Please excuse some language but I copied the lyrics directly.

Easy come Easy go
That's just how you live oh
Take take take it all
But you never give,
Should of known you were trouble
From the first kiss had your eyes wide open, ( When they enlisted)
Why were they open?
Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash,
You tossed it in the trash, you did.

To give me all your love is all I ever asked cause what you don't understand, is id catch a grenade for ya.
Throw my hand on the blade for ya,
Id jump in front of a train for ya.
You know I'd do anything for ya.
See I would go through all this pain take a bullet straight through my brain.
Yes I would die for ya baby, but you won't do the same.  ( Can’t even get the help they need)

Black, black, black and blue beat me till I'm am numb tell the devil I said hey when you get back to where you're from.
Bad women bad women   (substitute policies and red tape here)
That's just what you are yeah
You smile in my face than rip the breaks out my car. (offer help but don’t deliver)
Gave you all I had and you tossed it in the trash, you tossed it in the trash yes you did. To give me all your fucking love is all I ever asked but what you don't understand is id catch a grenade for ya.

Throw my hand on the blade for ya, Id jump in front of a train for ya. You know I'd do anything for ya. Listen babe I would go through all this pain take a bullet straight through my brain. Yes I would die for ya baby. But you won't do the same. If my body was on fire ooh you would watch me burn down in flames. You said you loved me you're a liar cause you never ever ever did baby...

I saw a group of about a dozen young boys standing outside the recruiters office yesterday and I am ashamed to say that all I wanted to do was beg them to run away and not enlist for this life.
Sad but how true is this?