Thursday, January 30, 2014

Letters To A Father

The following letters were written by the daughter and son of a father who was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010.  It was requested that we share them.

The Daughter's Letter (Written as a song)

"Remember Our Family"

Do you remember how you and mom first met...you guys fell in love instantly.
Remember when you first met us,
Remember how you became a father?
You use to smile and make everyone laugh.

Remember how you were our family
You use to make me laugh
You use to make me smile
You use to sing and dance with us

How did that disappear
Where did it all go wrong?
Do you not remember the good old days?
Do you remember "..." and when he laughed and smiled with you?


Remember how you were our family
You use to make me laugh
You use to make me smile
You use to sing and dance with us

I still remember everything that was still happy.
But to tell you the truth right now I am scared.
I am lost
I cry every night wishing my dad came back
The one who made me laugh
Cause I remember all the good times
Remember our family back then...

P.S. I miss you dad, you never smile anymore and it makes me sad.  I really want to have a good life.  You now yell and I can't takes this no more, I want it to stop.


The Son's Letter

I love you dad even though it may not seem like it right now I am.  I don't know if you know but I'm scared, scared that you are going to hurt yourself while we are gone.  Please I beg you, you have so much people, me, "...", even mom that love you so very much.  We will be back soon, it's not like we're going there forever.  We love you dad and we'll always love you.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tech Tips - More Focus, Less Tech

More Focus. Less Tech. (Written with a clingy baby crawling all over me)


In June of 2013 I started writing Caregiver Tech Tips for FOV with the goal of finding simple and creative ways for utilizing technology to make life just a little bit easier for Veteran Caregivers.


My momentum for that project lasted a little over a month. In the flurry of life as a Caregiver, mother of three, step-mom of two, and all of the other hats I wear - the technology I used to manage our lives - became the obstacle to all of the things I really wanted to do with my time.


I knew that something had to change so I began the process of "logging off" by breaking up with my smartphone for a few months. Without a tiny computer in my pocket 24/7 I had to sit with and address the anxiety that had been building in my heart. The answers I found were surprising and I am more free because of it.


I was basically caught in a cycle of worry and distraction that allowed me to be paralyzed by my extensive list of commitments and responsibilities; that I had just recently been ecstatic about.


Although our break up could not last forever - our time apart gave me time to think. I still need to work on my tech habit but I find that the more time I spend doing things that I love doing like yoga, hiking, and writing - the easier it is to use technology appropriately to accomplish tasks rather than to hide from my To Do list.


In short, the more I take care of myself the more I am able to do for others.


Here are all of Caregiver Tech Tips originally posted in June of 2013.


The January 2014 edition of Caregiver Tech Tips will be posted soon. Send comments, questions, and requests to maria@familyofavet.com.


Here are the Caregiver Tech Tips for June 2013
Originally posted on our Facebook Page

Passwords & Affirmations


These days passwords need to be increasingly complicated in order to remain secure. As a Caregiver - you probably have personal goals that you have difficulty accomplishing. Combine these two problems to create a solution for both.


Set your passwords to “passphrases” that are also affirmations or goals. Especially in the case of web systems that you must sign into daily - this will help keep your goals and positive affirmations floating near the top of your subsconscious.


Once you feel like you have accomplished this goal - change your password to your new goal. This will set you up for success and security.


Here are some made up examples:


20lbsBySummer!


iAM@G00dwiFe


N0creditcArds2014


SelfffffAwarene$$



Backing Up Data


As a Caregiver you probably have lots of important documents saved to your computer. If you are not regularly backing up your data - you are putting your hard work, time, important information, and possibly even money at risk.
Your computer - no matter how much you paid for it - can and eventually will break down - just like your car.


Step 1) Choose where and how you will backup your data. (Examples provided below)
Step 2) Determine how frequently you need to do a backup. (Daily? Weekly? Monthly?) If you lost all of the work you completed in just one day - would you be devastated? If so, then daily. (Note: If you have a day or week that you complete a lot more work than usual - set yourself a calendar reminder for the end of the day to do a manual backup of your work or manual activation of your backup service.)


Step 3) Set a repeating calendar reminder to do your backup or verify that your backup was completed if using an automated backup.


Here are some example backup options:

***Disclaimer: FOV does not endorse any of these products.


- Cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox allow you to manually upload your files to a secure server accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.   


- External hard drives allow you to keep your files local. You can manually copy your files to an external drive or you can use any number of programs that will automatically run backups for you.


- Many antivirus programs like Norton and AVG also offer backup services that will run automatically in the background and backup to the location of your choice.


- Cloud services that integrate with your computer like SkyDrive and SugarSync offer a more seamless means for backing up files .



Cleaning Your Keyboard


Is your keyboard full of crumbs or dust? Next time you are at the dollar store, grab a medium bristle make up brush and store it in your pen cup next to your computer. The next time you’re on hold with the VA grab your make up brush and dust out your keyboard.


***Disclaimer: Do NOT attempt to clean your keyboard with a USED makeup brush



Color Coding Your Family


Fact #1: People come with paperwork from the day they are born.


Fact #2: Our brains process images faster than text.


Fact #3: Our eyes are drawn to color.



Use #2 & 3 to help you with #1.


***Disclaimer: These instructions are written for computers running Windows.


Step 1) Pick a different color and shape combination for each member of your family. This will become their “icon”. You will need an image file of this icon for each person. You can search the web for images of things like “Pink Star” or “Blue Circle” or make them yourself in programs like Paint.


Step 2) Save each person’s icon picture to your computer.


Step 3) Use this online converter tool to convert each icon picture into a .ico file. http://image.online-convert.com/convert-to-ico


Step 4) Create a separate file for each person in your family if you haven’t already.
Step 5) Change their file’s icon to the corresponding .ico file by right clicking on their folder and selecting Properties > Customize > Change Icon > Browse your computer to find and select the corresponding .ico file > Click OK to accept that file > Click OK to save your changes.


You can also apply this idea outside of your computer. If you have paper trays or bins - tape each person’s icon over their bin so everyone knows where their paperwork goes.



~These Caregiver Tech Tips are brought to you by Maria Evangelista courtesy of Family Of A Vet



Family of a Vet, Inc., disclaims any and all liability for damage to your computer by following the tech tips provided. This includes damage to the hard drive, motherboard, keyboard, DVD drive/CD drive, USB ports, monitor, keyboard, speakers, mouse, or any other peripheral devices such as but not limited to printers, phones, ipods, and external drives/storage devices. Nor is FOV responsible for any third party software, malware, spyware, viruses, or Trojans that may appear or be downloaded, with or without your knowledge and consent, onto your computer. Following these tech tips are entirely at your own risk, caution, and liability.

Submitted By: Maria E.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Overcoming

When I was young my parents were both alcoholics and heavy smokers.  I started smoking at 11 and drinking at around 13.  My folks had a pony keg master.  A home tap for draft beer in the house My sister and I could sneak beer anytime we wanted.  When I went in the Marines everyone smoked and drank.  I fit right in.

I'm what is known in the mental health field as a dry drunk.  I can go for days without drinking.  When I was still drinking I would work all day sober and as soon as someone broke out a six pack I was off and running.  I could never stop at one or two.  I drank until I was broke or passed out.  After Nam I drank to forget bit I started having hallucinations.  Went off one afternoon after a all day Saturday drinking binge and talking with a friend about Nam I suddenly got up, went in the house, got my gun and diapered into the hills for a day and a night.  I reappeared all scratched up from Chaparral bushes.  I was hiding from the Gooks! ( Vietnamese enemy soldiers).  Sue told me to get help or get out! 

I went to the VA center in the San Fernando Valley and was put in a group.  One Vet got in an argument with another and a fight broke out.  When the smoke cleared one guy was dead.  I never went back.

A year later I came home from work one night after an after work drunk collapsed on the sofa and woke up covered in my own vomit.  I cleaned myself up and went to drive to work and the left front wheel, tire and McPherson strut assembly was gone! along with the fender.  I never found out what happened or how I got home on 3 wheels.

That began my awakening to the fact I had a drinking problem. 
Next I found out that my 11 year old daughter had been given pot by the baby sitter and then bribed not to tell about she and her boyfriend fooling around instead of watching my kids.  My daughter began to sneak around smoking pot until she was almost killed in a dirt-bike accident.  When they got her to the hospital they found pot on her and she was still high. 
I was so ashamed of myself for my behavior and how it was tearing the family I loved apart that I fell to the ground and began to call out for God to kill me and save my family from my sins. 

Guess what? He did both!
I died to myself that night and was delivered by Gods amazing grace from alcohol and drugs.  I turned to God and he has saved my family and created a new creature in me.  Now 35 years later I have not had any alcohol or mind altering drugs of any kind. 
I don't know if you need a new start or not but I did and I know my God is waiting for you to reach out to him.
If you simply call Jesus name and ask him to forgive you and give you a new start you can be come far better than you ever imagined.  It is NOT EASY but with Gods help you can do all things.
I hope your new year begins with the promise of new life. 45 years of marriage to the Angel God sent to introduce me to him.
Gods health to you and yours.

Submitted By: Doug Kirk

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Love Letter Campaign ~ 13th Anniversary




I loved you from the moment that our eyes met…and on our Wedding Day.  I couldn't imagine loving you anymore than at that moment. 



Today, I love you in a way that I never thought possible.  A deeper, more mature, more meaningful love that comes from surviving not just the best of times…but also the difficult times that tried to destroy us.

 But thanks to our Lord’s support, and our love for each other we came out stronger, more in love,  more appreciative of what love means, and what love can endure .

We have gone through bad times, and good times…and our life ahead is sure to challenge us with difficulty as well as joy.

Today, I reaffirm my  pledge to you of my love, honor and care in sickness and in health.

 I want to grow old with YOU. Laugh with YOU. Play with YOU.  Care for YOU.  And Love YOU the very best that I can, for all the days that the Lord has chosen to give us.

Happy 13th Anniversary My LOVE!!!


Submitted By: Debbie S.

This blog post is part of The Love Letter Campaign... a project started by FamilyOfaVet.com to encourage those who love a hero to write a letter sharing their story (where they started, what they've faced together, and why their love endures). It's not just for spouses, but also for parents, siblings, caregivers, and friends. It's about telling the "rest" of our stories... stories that continue despite PTSD, TBI, and the challenges of life after combat. To share your love letter or find out more about the campaign, visithttp://www.familyofavet.com/love_letters.html.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Beginning to Happiness

I am sharing my story in hopes that it is a healing process for myself but also to let anyone else who has gone through what I have that they are not alone.

I met Sean on March 17, 2008 three days after he returned from a 15 month deployment to Iraq. We had talked online for a bout a month thanks to a dating website. We were both new to the area and wanted to meet people. I last heard from him before he left Kuwait and said that he would call me. I honestly did not expect to hear from him and on that Monday my phone rang and it was him. We met for dinner and I knew I loved him before we were finished eating. After that we spent everyday together. He met my son from a previous relationship and fit so well. Sean did not sleep in bed he slept on the couch, I thought it was just a readjustment period and it was not unusual. He enjoyed drinking and having fun again thought nothing of it. But after time the drinking became excessive on the weekends and he would I think flashback to things. He was starting to have nightmares and woke up covered in sweat. Four months after being home he had a night of drinking and a poor decision to do cocaine to numb the pain and forget everything that happened in Iraq. The following day a drug test was done on the unit and he failed along with 14 others. Within a month all 14 were discharged from the Army and Sean was even more lost then before. We moved back to where I was originally from and he started work but he did not ever seem happy. He started going to the Vet center for therapy and then would stop and then go again just to stop again. The last five and a half years have been a very turbulent time. Sean just wanted to numb feeling everything and forget Iraq and unfortunately drugs and alcohol were his companions in that. He would go days without sleeping and what little sleep he did get had horrible nightmares, he had never slept in bed with me always on the couch. Trying to go and do anything to get out of the house was a fight.

The pinnacle of our battle with addiction and PTSD came on August 23, 2013 when I found Sean unresponsive and blue in the bathroom. I had to perform CPR for what seemed like forever I got him back.  Immediately after this he went to an inpatient VA facility to help in PTSD and addiction.

Since he has been gone I have been struggling with my own emotions about everything. It has been difficult and I go to a support group that has been amazing. It has been a struggle because I have not worked since February because Sean was admitted for a serious infection and he was the caregiver for our 2 year old. So I had to care for both of them. We are fighting to get his benefits and that is just a joke how difficult they make that process. This will be our third time.

I have been reading book after book to learn all that I can and that seems to help. I just know that Sean’s demons will always be a struggle to overcome but he finally has the mindset of living a healthy life. I am also hopeful that we both can learn to be healthy and establish a stable environment for our family.

Proud of my Hero

Submitted By: Alisha