Tag Archives: Air Force

The Other, Other, Other, Other, One About the VA

It’s not enough that we have maggots. The Other Other One About the VA

Google auto fills “vet suicides at” with:

  • Phoenix VA
  • VA
  • Denver VA
  • Attempts per day

It doesn’t tell you about the one that happened in Albuquerque on the 22nd. Just like no one reported on James Ingram III setting himself on fire in a VA parking lot (The One About Ending It All) because apparently people pretend like none of this is happening.

All I know is what was reported by disabled veterans.org because there’s nothing else to find. I even checked the Albuquerque Journal‘s obit section and none listed the cause of death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while standing at the doors of the Albuquerque VA hospital .

hlyygni

Reach out. I didn’t seek help – it was thrust on me. A friend made the appointment at the VA for me. It wasn’t my answer. Compartmentalization will break down. Seek help and/be the help. Anything less is a Rook mistake.

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The One About Night Terrors

It’s more than a nightmare.

For me it’s total paralysis with open eyes screaming. Sometimes it bolts me awake. Sometimes I don’t quite reach consciousness.

Sometimes it’s the total certainty that someone is standing over me in the dark.

Sometimes it’s a memory replayed in a thousand different ways that I am helpless to change.

An adrenaline dump in the middle of the night can keep me up for hours, or not let me sleep again. Panicked, angry, and frightened, I’ll roam my house trying to talk myself down. “It was just a dream. I’m fine. Everything is fine. I’m OK.  Nothing is wrong.” It’s a mantra.

It also upsets the household. Thankfully, my son has always slept like he was in his own personal cocoon. My sig-oth isn’t so lucky. I know it’s a helpless situation for him as well. But there is nothing he can do.

Add guilt to the mix of anger, panic, fear because I’m causing sleep depravation for him, too.

Fuck all that.

This kid , Tyler Skuzacek in Saint Paul, MN,  is a freaking genius. He and his team created an app.

It hasn’t made the clinical trials yet, but he’s working with the VA and sleep experts.

It marks the symptoms leading up to the terror and interrupts deep sleep with a vibration to take the sleeper just this side of consciousness without actually waking them.

Sign me up, Tyler.

MyBivy App

It’s never hopeless. Someone’s always out there working on ways to make it better. They don’t give up and neither can you. That would be the worst Rook mistake.

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I know the pic is sappy af, but this time it fits.

TL;DR: Tyler’s dad came home with PTSD. After watching his dad suffer, he chose to do something about it. There’s an app in the works. Don’t give up. Help is coming.

The One About Ending It All

His name was Ingram.

It’s taken me a while to be able to articulate my thoughts on this.

Charles Ingram III out of Egg Harbor did willingly and with forethought set himself on fire at a VA hospital in Jersey.

Let that sink in.

A man bought gasoline, drove to the hospital, doused himself in the stuff, and lit it up.

A man who served his country on a float in the Med during Desert Storm burned himself alive at the place that was supposed to be providing the mental health services he needed.

He left his wife and had two kids under the age of 5.

What the actual fuck, people?

Where’s the outrage? Where’s the public outcry?

I’d only heard about it because of the pages I frequent. It didn’t make the news in Texas.

Welcome to the world of disposable heroes.

TL;DR: When no one listens people go drastic. Fuck, this is all a rook mistake.

 

Fire-Suicide-3-1024x768

 

 

The One About Being a Good Citizen

I screwed up. Driving across DFW no man’s land in the early morning hours resulted in a ticket. Plano PD clocked me at 62 in a 45. On an ACCESS ROAD. It was dark and cold and there were lights and loud noises and my adrenaline dumped.

Hands locked and frozen at 10 and 2. Flashlight in my face. His first words were, “Do you know how fast you were going?” I had no concept. I didn’t respond because I didn’t have any words. Lizard brain threatened to take over. He asked me again, this time a little louder.

My throat went dry. My hands were sweating, shaking.

I responded with the first thing that came to mind. “Officer, I have PTSD.”

He pulled the flashlight back, and looked at me and in a very calm voice that had noticeably softened asked if I knew where my DL was. I could nod. He asked if I could get it for him. Again, I could nod. He said, “Breathe. I’m not here to hurt you.” And I found that I could stop white-knuckling the steering wheel to fish it out of my bag. He remained very professional, authoritative, but soft-spoken at the same time. By the end of our 8 minutes together, I’d almost reset to normal.

Almost. I mean, I did get a ticket on the access road to 75. What the hell? Who drives 45 when getting on the highway? In Dallas?? They’ll run you over. (Or maybe that “they” is actually me. Whoa. Matrix moment)

He was a good citizen of the world and helped me maintain.

Thank you, Officer Jackson. And thank you to the Plano PD for sensitivity training or for just hiring a guy with a good heart.

TL;dr: Don’t be an asshole when you’ve broken the rules or when you’re enforcing them. It’s rook mistake.

 

The One About Wounded Warrior

Wounded Warrior came under attack recently for lavish spending.

It seems simple to me. A large organization has more overhead. A small “all volunteer” group can be more efficient, but the impact of a larger group can be more significant.

It spent a whopping $149 million on direct care for wounded troops, while other large national charities have entire budgets worth tens of millions”

$149mil in direct care. Did you read that right? 149 million dollars in directly caring for the wounded. How’s that for efficient? They’ve also increased veteran mental health assets. They also promote re-education, training, outreach, redirection for other vet charities or groups, etc. 

The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. Our vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of injured service members in our nation’s history.

Who else is doing this? WHO? The VA? Don’t kid yourself.

From a friend’s experience — they (WWP) call to check on you and help with VA issues FOR FREE!! Did you read that right?  FOR FREE! You don’t even have to join anything to get help.

If you can build an organization that puts over a $100 million in direct application to your cause, then congrats, I applaud you. If you can’t, then consider letting those who can, do so.

12647256_10156391990270447_3821095854418380739_nLead, follow, or get out of the way.

TL;dr

The Wounded Warrior Project is tried and true with the help it provides.

Don’t always believe News that sells, because it isn’t always the news. That’s a rook mistake.

 

The One About Drone Pilots…

In my experience, being in the service isn’t much like it is in the movies.  Writers have a tendency to romanticize or bromanticize the whole idea of war.  Someone’ll put a cherry of honor on that big patriotic sundae, and force feed the masses with it.  Do I regret my time in?  No.  Do I regret what I had to do?  Yeah, sometimes.

Our Air Force drone pilots have it worse though.  Where being at war takes you away from your family and into a hostile environment, you’re there with your fellow soldiers.  That environment lends itself to what you have to do.  The talk, the sounds, the full emersion in the way of war prepares you in a way that sitting back at post can’t ever do.  You’re in the shit and so is everybody else.

Air Force drone pilots don’t have that. They’re stateside.  And the whole things has an Ender’s Game quality to me.  Fly the mission so far removed from the thick of it and take out targets from base.  When their 12 hour shift is over, they go drive home.  No time to deal, no time to get your brain around it.  Home to the wife and kids.  Home to PTA meetings and Little League.  And so they’re leaving the service, unable to cope with the clinical nature of pushing a button and watching the aftermath a world away.

What’s the solution?  Don’t have one.  But the fact that these men and women don’t want murder (because that’s how it feels to them) gives me some hope.  I don’t think we’ll ever get to drone on drone warfare where we all watch from home on CNN, but maybe we will.  What do I know?

http://www.thenation.com/article/200337/american-drone-operators-are-quitting-record-numbers#

The One About My Truck vs. My Intelligence

As is the rule in Texas, I drive a truck.  It has moved me from DC to Texas, to the Pacific Northwest and back.  It is my most cherished possession though even as it falls into disrepair.  That being said, I am from out in the country a piece (You know, past the old Miller place where they used to keep the Brahmans, but don’t any more because Luckett, their oldest boy, decided to go off and be an engineer at Lockheed, but before you take the turn to get to LakeCreek). There might even be some livestock within a stone’s throw from my back door.   And in the summer I do have an opportunity to get sunburned from time to time.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  You seem smart enough, so I’ll just work on that assumption.

I take no offense to the word redneck when used properly.  My extended family has worked the land since before they came to the States.  But, my sheepskin proud friends, farming is not a measure of intelligence any more than a diploma.  I’ve met plenty of moronic doctoral candidates and their opposite in closet intellectual cattle ranchers.  It’s all just a matter of stupid pride on both sides.

So, all I’m saying is  let’s don’t judge people based on a lifestyle.  All bets are off once they open their mouths or drive a Ford though.  Let’s just take it on a mouth by mouth and truck by truck basis though.

That’s right, I’m about to say it.  Can’t we all just get along?

TL;DR Don’t judge people.  That’s just another Rook mistake.

Unless we’re talking about the Air Force.

Screw those guys,