Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Caring for a Vet with Several Disabilities

My husband, Tim, was hit by his fifth IED before they even thought of sending him back to the rear for exams. Following his last IED attack, his rear commander called me to tell me that my kids and I would be leaving to Landstuhl to say our “goodbyes” to Tim due to the injuries he incurred while in combat. I had just dropped our oldest son off at his senior prom and immediately rushed home to contact all our stateside family and friends with the news. Luckily, for me and our family, our story doesn’t stop there. 

Tim had been severally hurt, but was alive and causing a ruckus because they called me ahead of his evaluation.  They finally sent him home to Germany where the next couple of months I was his caregiver; bathing, washing, toileting and all areas that he once did for himself.  After they stabilized him, we were sent stateside for further evaluation that couldn’t be done in Europe.  After arriving to our next duty station, we found out that almost everyone of the bones in his back were broken with the surgeon informing us he had never seen a back that bad in his career with the military.  For the next two years we juggled family, along with six hour trips to military hospitals and clinics for therapy, surgeries, as well as traumatic brain clinics to help him learn to help himself again. 

It was a long and complicated journey, showing the Army, VA, and DFAS their own
regulations to because they had never neither seen nor heard of many of these issues
until this point. Our communication was mainly through the internet, which added to the complications.

Making a long story short, I was able to navigate through all the politics, red tape, with not enough answers to my questions, so that I am able to care for my husband full time allowing him to receive every benefit that he is entitled to. He receives his VA check, disability check and the combat related special pay (CRSC).  We also had to show the military proof that any wounded soldier who makes the promotion list before being medically retired is to be promoted to the next rank that they earned. Somehow through all this mess, regulations and politics; we successfully did all the paperwork so that once my husband is now permanently retired.  Now that he is retired, he no longer has the worries of how he will support his family.

We have our good days and we have our bad days but I look at it like this; he’s home with me and it doesn’t matter that he might not be the same man he was before he was deployed. He’s still my man and I get to hold him and tell him I love him every single day, which is more than some family members get to do. 

If you’re a spouse or a wounded soldier, trust me, the resources are out there; thankfully in part to George Bush our former president.  I’m grateful that my husband was able to get out and still have his life. Yes it might be different, but it’s still our future being shared together. Medical, dental, paychecks, allotments and all the other stuff that goes with a medical retirement are right there for you to use.

I am willing to share our experiences or even let you know what hoops we had to jump through to make sure once my husband was out, he wasn't forgotten, nor would our kids suffer anymore. Since his last injury, the New York Times has written a story on him. The author, Bill Doyle, who writes about our heroes, has a new book out for sale in which my husband’s story is the first chapter.  I know getting ready for retirement by choice or not is an emotionally hard decision and transition, but knowing what I do now and the time I get with him every day was worth all the lonely days and nights. He will always be in constant pain, as there is no cure for that, as well as the nightmares and all that he witnessed over there.Yet, we both agree that is what he signed up to do and we’d rather it be over there than here in the united states. Our children are proud of their father and I’m just the proud wife of a real American hero.  

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and if someone tells you something that doesn't seem right speak up, your soldier fought for your rights. As a loving spouse it is okay for you to say no or ask why. 

Thank you for reading our journey and experiences. I hope you know you know you’re
not alone anymore and there is hope out there for all of our heroes. 

~Laurie, loving wife of an American hero

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FOV Talk Radio and Warrior Life Coach: R.E.C.O.N.

FOV Talk Radio is beyond excited to invite Beau Chatham of Warrior Life Coach tonight to discuss his revolutionary R.E.C.O.N. technique.

Using an acronym all soldiers are familiar with "R.E.C.O.N." Beau developed this therapy tool to help PTSD and TBI veterans take charge of their lives again reducing the burden on the caregiver and creating a better future for many. The technique is simple. Each letter stands for 1 treatment point. Vets are trained in the technique and then reminded before they act on something, "Have you done your R.E.C.O.N.?".

This tool can help your family in immense portions. PLEASE join us tonight on FOV Talk Radio for a special episode: Warrior Life Coach.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Building on Trust

The hardest thing I've found to deal with is that my husband turns against me when he's having a hard time dealing with PTSD. He's gone so far as to tell his Dr. I was poisonng him. He gets mad because I've never been the aggressive type and I'm still not agressive with other people, but I MAKE him get help and I MAKE him take the meds they prescribe.

My motto is we are a team. If one member is down, the other has to pick up the slack. Thankfully medicine has helped our situation a lot and I feel like I almost have the man I dated before he went to Iraq.   
It's not been easy to get to this point at all. There were several times I was about to jump ship, but I couldn't stand the thought of the man I love going through this alone. He didn't ask for this any more than I did. What ever stress he was putting me through, I know he was dealing with a lot more. I was terrified I would move on and see him homeless one day or that he would die shortly after I left. (Granted, he was not physically abusive and I never felt my life was in danger, nor do we have kids yet. In a violent situation, I believe I would have helped as much as I could from a distance).

We're still working things out, but I can see how much we're growing together through all this. I've made it a point to never ever lie to him. Before I talk to him about serious issues, I weigh my words and choose them carefully. I've made sure I have never gave him a reason not to trust me through all this. Anything I did that he didn't agree with, I told him what was going on, what was about to happen and never broke my word to him. That's been very important to him through this whole process.

Hopefully we're coming out on the other side and things will stay at least as good as they are now. I know there will be other PTSD episodes, but we're getting pretty good at handleing them as a team. We keep building on our trust foundation. We keep encouraging each other. When we have a melt down and get in a fight, we make sure it gets worked out that day and don't give it a chance to fester over night, then we start building on the trust again, building eachother up. We ar taking the cards we were dealt and building a future that we have agreed will be nothing less than happy for both of us.

Submitted to by Mrs. K of WV.
Thank you so much, Mrs. K, for sharing your experience and for being an inspiration to the rest of us on Building on the trust foundation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

FOV Partners, Allies, and Resources

Family of a Vet has a wide reaching network of resources to help you. We have carefully cultivated personal connections over years with the following organizations to help them better service you. Many of them are nationwide groups. Look for more information at their websites or contact Family of a Vet for more information on any of these organizations that make it their mission to help veterans.

American Archangels
Code of Support
Clayton Stress
Disabled Patriot's Fund
Faces of America's Brave
Freedom Alliance
From Hell to Here: The Film
Gallant Few
Give An Hour
Guardian Angel Service Dogs
Honor For All (Visible Honor for Invisible Wounds)
Military Connection
Mobile Stress Relief Unit
National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI)
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
National Resource Directory
Operation Homefront, Wounded Warrior Wives
Operation PTSD
PTS Treatment Worldwide
Remembering Quilts
SiMON Learning
Soldiers Angels
Stress Free Kids
USA Cares
VA Caregiver Support Program
Veterans Resource Central
Vet. Ed. Executive Coaching
Veteran Benefits Network
Vietnam Veteran Wives
The War at Home
Warrior Life Coach
When Our Troops Come Home
Wounded Warrior Project

Stay tuned to the FOV Blog as we announce additional partnerships in the future and reveal our new Partnerships and Resources Page on!

Forgotten Vets

There are many vets that have been forgotten. A lot of them since the Vietnam War, ended up in a struggle with alcohol, drugs, law issues, and were therefore forgotten and put in prison or worse, they committed suicide.

A lot have been returned to their birthplace after serving since they were 17 years of age and finished the dirty work for Uncle Sam just to be ignored after. I have read some stories of some and they carry no hate, would like to see themselves in the USA to see family without having to go through the red tape, which they have seen so often and let sit for 35 years or longer.

Give them a chance....that's my story.

Submitted by Mr.A

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FOV Talk Radio: PTSD and Massage - The Touch that Heals

This week on FOV Talk Radio, we will be discussing the effects of massage on PTSD patients for symptom relief. Joining us is Leesa Almgren of Mobile Stress Relief Unit, a licensed massage therapist, and Nicole, a massage practitioner as we delve deep into the healing power of massage and how it can help improve life.

Feel free to call in at 323-657-1470 to listen in, tell your story, or ask a question! We look forward to hearing from you!!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Remember When

Remember when you held my hand, fully present, my infantryman.

Remember driving in the car, the wind in our hair, you and I laughing so hard.

Remember the nights we spent planning and dreaming, giggling and cuddling our joy was bubbling.

Remember how grand we dreamed our future would be, our little family, you and me and then she made three.

Remember the light in your eyes, your smile, your glow, why oh why did it all have to go.

You, we, did nothing wrong, you were brave and I was too, serving our country, thats what military families do.

They say we are lucky, you came home-this is true but the man that came home isn't you.

They don't know what we go through, every day I grieve the loss of you.

Thanks to you our country is free, there are so few thank yous for the service that was done by the man who used to be.

They think your war is done but it has only just begun.

I try not to remember when, it hurts too much, I so miss my best friend.

Every now and then he visits me and for awhile we are again a family of three but then he is gone, leaving a void and again my world is destroyed.

I miss you, I miss what we used to be but what I miss the most was when our life was full of hope.

It does no good to remember when because that, I'm afraid, will never be again.

Jenny Conlon

Monday, August 8, 2011

FOV Talk Radio: Back To School Special - Educating Educators about PTSD

Pens and pencils, backpacks and book's that time of year again. The kids are buzzing with joy at new school clothes and you're silently cowering in a corner thinking, "what on EARTH am I going to do this year to make it work?"

Some of us like to hide our spouse's (or our own) PTSD, TBI, and other injuries from educators, but for those who don't, Family of a Vet has developed a new solution for you!

Washing away fears nationwide Family of a Vet is releasing it's brand new School Packet. This is the first packet available to everyone and anyone to help you keep your home running smoothly. It is coming to you in 2 stages - the "basic" packet and the expanded packet which will be available by Sept. 1st.

To learn more about this new packet, helping your children cope with PTSD and TBI, and talk with those who developed them including teachers and veteran wives, join us for our Back to School Special - Educating Educators about PTSD on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:30 Eastern.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Changing my mindset

Its been a hellish weekend, worse than I could have ever imagined, I will spare you all the details but I do feel like I've turned a corner mentally. I've been spending so much time and energy trying to get my husband out of bed and functioning every day that I have no time left for myself and not much for my daughter. I've come to the conclusion that I can't save him, I can take care of him but I can't save him only God can do that and Kev needs to help himself, I can't make it him want to get better. Trying to save him is destroying me. So I have decided to refocus my energy on my daughter and myself. I love him more than anything and I will take care of him when he can't care for himself and enjoy him when he is his old self but I can't sacrifice my mental and emotional state. When he stays in bed all day I have to accept that I can't get him out of bed and he will be miserable if he gets up because he is forced so I will make sure he eats and has his meds but other than that he can continue his life in bed while I work on making the best life for my daughter and myself.

I guess I've come to realize that I can't change my situation (well without jumping out of mine and into a worse one and breaking up my family) but I can change the way that I handle the situation. I know that some days are going to be far harder than other days to maintain this attitude but I've got to try.

Today I have quite enjoyed my day, far more than any day I can remeber in the recent past.  I got up, drank my coffee, read my emails, surfed the web, checked on my garden, did some laundry, watched some old movies, cleaned the living room and then Isa came home. Right now she is playing with a friend in her room so I am taking some time to relax before we have our girls night tonight which will include facials, manicures and some Phineas and Ferb : )


Thursday, August 4, 2011

FOV Talk Radio - What's Happening!

FOV Talk Radio has been rockin' the air waves this month and we're ecstatic to have a WIDE variety of shows on archive that might just tickle your fancy!

Our NEW Archived shows include valuable information about:

VA Caregiver Program - What You Need to Know
This show is a wonderful roundtable with 2 Caregiver Support Specialists from the VA Caregiver Program helping us learn how to navigate the new program and learn about eligibility and so much more. This has been a TOP hit for FOV Talk Radio and is WELL worth a listen!!!

Guardian Angel Medical Service Dogs, Inc.

Talking with Carol from Guardian Angel Medical Service Dogs, Inc. was such a delight as we discussed medical service dogs, especially those for PTSD and TBI. Then it was onto a discourse for Brannan about how to help her family learn to adapt for their new service dog Shiloh.

PTSD and Faith: The Tie that Binds
Doug Kirk was announced live on FOV Talk Radio as FOV's Official Chaplain at the end of this show. We discussed our own journeys through PTSD and how faith directly impacted our choices and decisions as well as how it can be one of the keys to unlocking PTSD survival.

Scott Lee has also been VERY busy with the Veteran's Edition. Since we last posted his new shows have included:

Veteran's Edition: The Anatomy of a Flashback
Vet Ed: Executive Coaching for Combat Vet Leaders

Upcoming shows will be a Back to School Special next week featuring FOV's new School Packet designed to help veteran families educate the educators that teach their children by being proactive to prevent future problems. The next week we will be featuring Mobile Stress Relief Unit in PTSD and Massage: The Touch that Heals. Tune in live Tuesday evenings at 7:30 Eastern to get in on the action and get your questions answered on the air!