Thursday, June 20, 2013

Heart Cracks ...

Today it's about perspective.  It’s not the heart-wrenching stories that drain us the most. It's the overall indifference.

There are hundreds of very tough stories, with just a few here: 
  • -       A father of three dying of early onset dementia brain lesions after an FOB is set up directly over a 500 gallon fuel spill in the desert
  • -       A daughter who will forever re-live the systematic rapes and abuse for three years by her CO
  • -       A son who drove his car into a tree at over 120 mph to die, but gratefully who lived and continues to fight his PTSD
  • -       A family that lives on edge awaiting the rages/destruction/fierce silence of PTSD in a husband and Dad who won’t seek help, but whom they still love

What hurts us (and our nation) the most is the numbness of bureaucratic indifference.  In just the last three days, we guided four caregivers to official contacts to improve their specific long-term situations (overdue expense reimbursement, foreclosure/eviction, cancelled utilities, change of physician).  We made 17 calls of our own to try to break through the logjam.  

Not a single time was a solution provided.  Of the two people who answered their phones, they sympathized, but were also unable to help.  We were cordial, asked for further guidance, thanked them, and yet, it is the ones that will not answer or respond to calls and email who could ultimately help.  At least that is what we hope, for there is always a solution when people want to help.

We who support our veterans and their families do not have compassion fatigue.

We have Bureaucracy Fatigue.  Lord, please help us to continue to press forward despite the weariness, indifference, and malaise. These caregivers, families, and veterans matter!


Linda Kreter & the VeteranCaregiver Team   

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gnarly Roots Are the Most Interesting


Do you have a fondness for driftwood like I do?  I’ve been known to drag an interesting piece for miles and then let it dry out for three months if it was sufficiently unique!

Fascinating driftwood is often the tumbled root section of a tree.  I spent time this weekend thinking about roots.  Roots of our families.  Roots of our friendships.  Roots from our past that make us who we are today. 

Our roots begin within our families, and if we’re blessed, any dysfunction is manageable and safe.  Roots continue to grow and spread as we learn and grow older, putting out tender shoots that grow stronger as we discern our path.  Through experience and hard-earned wisdom, we learn how to prune the roots that are unhealthy, and how to nurture the ones we want to be stronger.  But sometimes, even with help, we cannot self-prune or self-nurture our roots and we must learn to live with dysfunction in our lives. 

Have you ever seen the root of a great tree that at one time ran into an obstacle and was forced to change direction to stay alive?  It’s not predictable or “regular”.  That tree, like you, is determined to keep growing.  The root of a tree that has circumvented an obstacle and kept on growing, lifting branches to the sky is often the most remarkable.  For example, consider the roots that grew around an underground pipe, pressed up through the concrete, or burrow out of the side of a mountain.  They kept growing.  I contend that some of the most interesting driftwood pieces are those that have a challenged root system.

Consider yourself in a new light.  Boring, nondescript, ordinary?  Absolutely not!  Think of a stunning piece of driftwood art in the garden, a driftwood piece like you – unwavering, a bit gnarly but tenacious, with some knotholes and scars, and learn to ADMIRE that driftwood all the more for the progress it made along the way.

May God bless the gnarly roots in your life for the visualization of challenges met – and grown beyond!

Linda Kreter and the VeteranCaregiver Team

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Suicide Prevention: Part 2


Today brings a sequel to our prior story about "Jim", the veteran who spiraled downward after the suicide of a close friend.  Jim subsequently survived two more suicide attempts, and his Caregiver wife was working to find a stable solution and postvention care for him (  The story continues this way ...

Jim is still awaiting a PTSD program.  Two additional suicide attempts have been made, prompting 911 calls and hospitalizations.  His wife has endured many personally dangerous situations trying to obtain stable, consistent mental health care for her husband.  Jim's medications have been juggled between three VA's with conflicting opinions and prescription changes.  As we write, the most recent SPC (Suicide Prevention Coordinator), Case Manager, nor primary care Social Worker have returned phone calls or email.  Escalation has gone nowhe
re.  Caseloads are too high.  It is vacation time.  The voice mailboxes are full.  This is a serious situation.  However, it is not a single story; there are many.   

Together, let's remedy this situation, shall we?  On Tuesday, June 11th, 11am EDT, please join us for a radio interview on the American Heroes Network (info below).  We will be talking with Edward White, the creator of the 
CallApp.  CallApp is a suicide prevention smartphone app that permits anyone to build a personal on-call virtual safety/crisis network comprised of friends, family, medical professionals, and community resources.  At the touch of a single button, this technology will permit personalized choices to the person in crisis.  If they need 911, it's there.  Their veteran buddy who calms them; there.  Their mental health counselors; there.  Special wellness programs, calming methods, and a network of caring, responsive people and organizations personally selected would reside on Jim's phone.  This is not a one-size-fits-all solution - but an extraordinary solution that will fit Jim. CallApp is customizable to satisfy the needs of family members, battle buddies, medical/mental health partners, close friends, and others.  These are people Jim trusts and who will answer the phone.  Respond.  It is a lifeline to bridge the gaps in communication support that exist today.

CallApp takes technology and leverages it with people who care about and for Jim. People support and save people.  Join us Tuesday to hear more!

With respect and great care,

Linda Kreter and the VeteranCaregiver Team
American Heroes Radio Network: