Tag Archives: Never Forget

The Forgotten

My father served in Vietnam in the late 1960s. When he came home, he was spit on and called a baby killer. He was one of too many. Everyone hated him and everyone that put that uniform on. That was a horrible time for our military.

As our country engages more and more across the world, spreading our military might too thin, their overall support dwindles. I watched as everyone wore their American Pride well during the First Gulf war in 1989. But the political landscape capped that quite well – “It’s all about the oil.” Everyone listens to the media.

And then one horrible day that has spread across the world, 9/11 ripped through our lives, everyone’s lives. And our national pride soared once more. For a while, anyway. And then everyone started listening to the media again. The spun any part of “The War on Terror” as a waste of money, Bush’s War, the daily death count. I was confused when the new phrases came out – “Where’s the weapons of Mass destruction?” No one could think that a plane would be a weapon of mass destruction, or bio-weapons. All they cared about was seeing the nukes. Where were the nukes? Unfortunately, we gave them plenty of time to get those out of their country. And when we couldn’t produce a cache of weapons that the media wanted and the fact that we weren’t getting out of there any time soon, the phrase changed to,  “Support our troops, but not the war.” How can you support that which engages in the thing you don’t like? It was a complete conundrum for me that still leaves me scratching my head. Just ugh.

Why do we continue to hate on our military?

According to a report released in March 2016 by the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, the greatest number of Veterans still comes from the Vietnam Era, closely followed by  peacetime only Veterans and then The First Gulf War. Yet, everyone focuses their attention, and money, on those Post-911 veterans, which only account for 13% of the total number of Veterans in that census.

Thirteen.

And yet, they are the ones who receive the attention, the focus, the help. They are the ones that all the charities gear their marketing efforts towards. In 2014, there were 19.3 million veterans living in the US and PR. Of those 19.3 million veterans, only 3.8 million have been awarded a service connected disability. Other statistics include: 7 million served in Vietnam, 5.5 million served during the Gulf War era (representing service from August 1990 to present), and 2.5 million served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, when I say that 2.5 million served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m sure that is an accurate number in the sense that there were 2.5 million people deployed to those areas. However, it is a well-known fact that of those 2.5 million people quite a lot have been on multiple deployments. So, in essence, there aren’t 2.5 million veterans of those two wars. The RAND Association explains it best –  in troop years, rather than number of deployed. At present, I have been unable to locate the exact number of Iraq and Iran Veterans. However, RAND is stating the strength of approximately 554,000 soldiers in December 2011. The VA is reporting that it has seen approximately 860,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans utilizing their Health System.

As the US Veteran population ages, the older generation numbers will dwindle. This is only natural. But with our continuing efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of veterans from these two areas will undoubtedly surpass the Vietnam era.

I am in no way trying to downplay the younger generation of veterans. By no means. What I am trying to point out is that Every Veteran Matters. 

And that’s how ALL these benefits/charities SHOULD be run. But they’re not.

I lived through my husband’s combat deployment. He experienced it. Still experiences it. Every. Horrible. Moment. And how many people remember Kosovo and their atrocities?

Only those who went there in the beginning.

So why is it that only the latest veterans, those post-911 combat veterans, are the only ones to get any benefits, any assistance, anything from anyone?

We are not ones to ask for assistance or help. We are those people who would offer up our help to others, no matter how bad off we were. But this last year has put us in a bind. With my medical insurance premiums and cost going up, the services and prescriptions covered going down, we’ve pretty much wiped out our savings. The VA hasn’t paid for any of the procedures he’s gone through since they stopped working back in 2012 or so. I can’t remember the last time he went. They don’t pay for any of his pain medications. So we are forced, now, to go seek civilian help.

He’s been going to a civilian neurologist since we moved to Florida and he’s been doing Botox injections in his neck and shoulders for his dystonia. For the past two years, all we had to pay for was the doctor visit for this procedure. Now, we have to pay for the Botox and the doctor visit. At $1000 every 3 months, that’s a no go. So he hasn’t had this since October of 2015. His pain is ever-increasing.

I did some digging and found out that now the VA Pain Center can do the Botox injections for him. I also want him to try ketamine infusions, as it’s helped a couple of people with their chronic pain that no pain medications have been able to touch.

In January 2016, I called for a VA neurology consultation so he could possibly be seen for both Botox injections and get a referral for the ketamine infusions. February 3, 2016 was his appointment and the VA neurologist evaluated him and said he’d refer him over to the VA Pain Center where they do the treatments. March rolls by and so does April. OK, we knew we’d have to wait, but I had him call and check anyway. Come to find out, February 4, 2016 another neurologist revoked his referral due to “having a civilian neurologist and received Botox there.”

Um, no! Just no!

So he had to fight to get that referral reinstated and he had his fist consult with the VA Pain Center in May 2016. Despite having previously been seen there, with quite a few procedures that eventually failed, and records to show for it, the evaluating “doctor” decides to “try” a procedure he had, that failed, twice, since he hadn’t been there in several years. He kept trying to say it was “new” when it really was the exact same procedure he’s had there before. We are convinced he was fishing to get TheHubs to say, “no, I don’t want to do that” just so the VA could deny him benefits because he refused a recommended treatment. But TheHubs suffered through this treatment in June 2016, which seems to have made his pain worse. They have scheduled his Botox injections for the end of October 2016 (a full year without Botox, so it’s like starting completely from scratch.) And to top it off, they can only inject HALF of what he was getting in the civilian world. HALF! How the heck is that even going to help when his full dose only took the edge off the pain!?

Not only do we have to deal with all his VA and civilian doctors, TheBoy had to have surgery on both his feet last year. Now he’s in braces, which we are still paying on. And, of course, my medical issues. And last month, our A/C died. At 95 degrees, in Florida, you don’t want your A/C to die. I had just emptied out our savings to pay off all the medical bills and then this happened. Everyone in my support groups were great, giving me places to apply for assistance, in the hopes that someone, somewhere could help me with the payment of a brand new A/C handler and compressor.

That’s when I found just how frustrated and forgotten TheHubs REALLY feels…

Out of about 35 organizations I tried, only 2 were open to all eras. But both of them were out of money. Everywhere else, you had to be a post-911 combat wounded veteran. I was crushed. All the charities I see out there, helping people with all kinds of needs and assistance, and we don’t qualify. Just like the VA Caregiver Program or any of the “automatic benefits” these veterans get without having to fight for their compensation Retreats, discounts, even a day at an amusement park (even *if* he could go with all those people) are not an option for him. Heck, even just a simple tool box for veterans, and we were denied.

Nope, we have to fight tooth and nail for everything he deserves. He has always called it “The Forgotten War.” I understood it. But now, I am seeing it as “The Forgotten Veterans,” too. It breaks my heart. And what about my dad? He had to wait 30 years before the government would even acknowledge the fact that they used Agent Orange. Luckily, now they have automatic diagnosis that fall into the Agent Orange category. But, really, any assistance that my mom might need, like the Caregiver Program, is lost to her as well.

I just can’t believe that we are a NATION OF NOW, a reactionary force to whatever happens to be in your face at the moment. And since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are still ongoing, because the returning and broken veterans are so young and so plentiful, more people see them, see their wounds, and want to help…them.

I want to know where we can go for ALL era veterans. I want to know why we continue to discriminate and forget about those that came before. I want to know why we can’t recognize and help them too! This is only a small portion that adds to the 22 veterans a day that die by their own hands. I only hope I can keep his hope from fading!

LadyJai

 

 

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The Lasting Effects On One Veteran & His Family from 9/11

Allendale This memorial was designed by two Allendale residents, a college student and a sixth-grader. The 5-foot-tall granite marker is draped with a bronze American flag and adorned with a bronze eagle on top. Its inscription includes the words, “We remember.” The monument sits on pavers shaped like the Pentagon.

Allendale – This memorial was designed by two Allendale residents, a college student and a sixth-grader. The 5-foot-tall granite marker is draped with a bronze American flag and adorned with a bronze eagle on top. Its inscription includes the words, “We remember.” The monument sits on pavers shaped like the Pentagon. – New Jersey Monthly

While today marks a day we will ALWAYS remember, while we recount the stories of where we were that day, while we share in the patriotism that brought us all together, I wanted to shed a little light on how that day STILL affects some of us. We weren’t at Ground Zero. But it doesn’t mean we weren’t affected — all those who witnessed the terror, all those serving in the military, or joined up to serve because of that day. How it still affects us all.

He was full-time active duty Army at the time. When the 2nd plane hit, he told his troops, “Pack up, guys. We’re going to war.” They spent the next 3 months readying themselves for war.

I worked in the 3rd Corps war room (contractor for their secured network) and I watched as his unit’s orders came, got canceled, came again, and then canceled again. Over and over my heart wrenched and relief surged only to be yanked away again. It was a very stressful time for all of us.

For him, though, he *wanted* to go. To do his duty. He was denied the First Gulf War and Somalia as he was needed on the home front to train lieutenants before they were shipped off. He felt like a failure because he didn’t do what he signed up to do. Then, Kosovo happened and he deployed. No one remembers *that*war“. He didn’t feel as though he fulfilled his destiny there either.

Because 4th ID was chosen to go to Afghanistan before 1st CAV, he was again denied his duty (in his eyes). And again, he still feels like a failure, that he’s not a true soldier. He feels guilty for being a veteran, for having all the things he suffers because of some dumb “wag the dog” stunt that no one remembers, for missing out.

9/11 is a very conflicting memory in our household. While we love that it brought ALL Americans together as one, regardless of race, creed, color…it also means that my husband missed his chance to be the hero he always dreamed.

I hate seeing him in pain, both physically and emotionally. I hate that he cannot see himself like I see him. And I wish others could see him the way I see him too.

To this day, that war overshadows everything about him.

LadyJai

If you’re willing, I would love to hear your stories as well. Share with everyone so we never forget that day and its lasting affects on us.

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Where Were You When The Towers Fell?

Where Were You When The Towers Fell? (Repost)

I’m re-posting this from my 10th Anniversary tribute I did on my other blog. Because we must NEVER FORGET!

September 11, 2001 started out like any other day–for everyone. But that day ended in total devastation for many, heartbreak and disbelief for all. It was double for me because of the terrorist attacks and the fact that my father found out he had lung cancer. My father is now cancer free and still blesses my life. But, today, I would like to remember the fallen.

911TwinTowers

Where were you when the towers fell?

Me, I was already at work. Back then, I was working on the Tactical Automation contract for III Corps, US Army at Ft. Hood, Texas. That day was going to be the start of our annual exercise with their sister troops in Korea. I had started my 12 hour shift at 6am and we were getting the servers all set up for live connections, making sure everything worked before the troops arrived at the Battle Simulation Center (BSC). We were going to play a game of war.

Around 8:50am I received a call from a co-worker who was due to start his shift at nine. He wanted me to pull up a news website and verify what he just heard on the radio to see if it was a joke. He had told me that the radio station had just reported an air plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC. He also said this radio station was known to joke around. So he wanted to be sure. Our television in the BSC had been off all morning. And at that time, the Network Operations Center (NOC) did not have a television hook up. Since our computers had already been connected to the Internet, I tried to pull up CNN.com. When the network timed out, I tried FoxNews.com to no avail as well.

The commotion of the troops filtered in and out of the BSC for their training exercise usually calmed down by now on any other given day. That day, it built into a manic deluge. I went to the BSC break room where there were gathering soldiers around the only active TV and watched, over and over the unbelievable footage of a Boeing 767 crashes into the side of the World Trade Center. Maybe this was an accident. Maybe the pilot had a heart attack and something happened to the co-pilot. Or maybe the controls got stuck. How could anyone NOT see that big building in their path. My mind was trying to rationalize what it had just seen.

After watching only the split second I needed to comprehend what was going on, I rushed back to the NOC and said, “Turn on our TV, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.” A flurry of speculation went up between us all. As we watched and theorized, time ticked slowly by. At 9:01am we watched in disbelief as another plane rammed the second tower. It went from “possible accident”, to DEFINITE TERRORIST ATTACK. I rushed outside to call my husband (cell phones were not allowed inside the BSC). My husband was currently active duty Army and worked across base. The cell towers were slammed and no phone call was possible at that time. I kept trying and trying. Over and over I dialed his number. I knew what was next. He would be leaving. I wanted to call him. I wanted to hear his voice. Finally, I got through.

“Two planes just flew into the Trade Center,” I said.

“I know. I have my radio on. I just told my troops, ‘Pack up guys. We’re going to war!'” replied my husband.

“I’ve got to go. The phone lines are getting jammed. I love you.” I told him.

“I love you, too.” he said.

And that was our first conversation after the attack.

I went back in to the NOC and we all readied for the start of our exercise. Delayed though it was, we were still having it. At 9:37am another plane crashed the Pentagon this time. I knew my brother-in-law had just been there and was unsure if he was leaving that day or the day before.

We sat in disbelief, going through the motions of our routine of the exercise.  And at 9:59am, 57 minutes after the first plane hit, the South Tower collapses. It was so surreal, almost like watching a movie. And moments later, a 4th plane was reported crashed  in the fields of Pennsylvania, missing its target.


This couldn’t be happening! No way!

We all sat with our mouths hung to the floor.

Silence.

………….

What broke the silence was the phone ringing and my boss telling me then need me down at the Sanctuary.

“What is the Sanctuary?”, you ask.

It is the war room. It is the place 2 stories below the ground where all real-world operations take place. It is the safe haven for the General and his staff. The motto on my III Corps G3 Operations mug says:

BASEMENT DWELLERS –
PEOPLE ARE BURIED
CLOSER TO THE
SURFACE THAN WHERE
WE WORK!!

Any other time of the year you can hear ants eat. I hated working in the Sanctuary. It was boring and isolated. We had TV, but it was always on the news. And where I had to sit was nothing more than a converted broom closet that housed our classified servers. It was loud, and cold. And did I mention, lonely?

I pack up my things and leave the BSC. When I get into the Sanctuary the noise was astounding. There were about fifty people all sitting at their stations, people walking in and out, people talking plans, people, people, people. It was a sight I’d never seen before in the Sanctuary.

The wall of LCD monitors at the front of the room were sectioned off, 4 of which had the General’s presentation, the rest were either on new channels or showing some military computer program that I can’t talk about. 🙂 I went straight to work getting people their accounts, email and internet set up on the classified network so we could get information flowing between bases. New computers were introduced into our area and people were always having troubleshooting issues I had to resolve. It was a busy time. I was on my feet all day helping people and didn’t realize the passage of time.

In between computer issues and tasks, all eyes were on the news. Talk centered around the stability of the North Tower. We were all hoping and praying she would stand tall. But at 10:28am the North Tower begins to collapse. 

NYC, America, and the world will never be the same. I continued to keep myself busy with all that was going on in the Sanctuary that day. Tears didn’t come until after my shift and I was safe at home in my husband’s arms.
I was one of the lucky ones.
Unfortunately, many were not so lucky. The worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil left 2752 people dead from the World Trade Center buildings, 189 from the four planes that were used (not including the hijackers), and 44 people at the Pentagon–totaling 2,985 families devastated.

It is now the 10 year anniversary of this horrendous crime. I beg of you, NEVER FORGET!

Where Were You When The Towers Fell? 

Where were you when the towers fell?
Tucked all safe and snug in your bed
Waking to smell pancakes and coffee
Getting dressed, rushing out the door
No need to be late
Just another day of routine folly
Where were you when the towers fell?
Making your lunches
packing your things
Checking your homework,
meeting your friends
Filling the buses
Cramming the cars.
Where were you when the towers fell?
Just came in through the office door
Set your briefcase, keys, and cell phone down
Flipping through papers
Business meetings
Conference calls
Emails and emails and more.
Where were you when the towers fell?
Radio, television tuned in to news.
Calling loved ones to hear their voices
Phone lines busy, anxiety runs high
Voices in huddles speak of nothing less
Daily habits are a distant dream
United in terror and pride.
Where were you when the towers fell?
Our home no longer safe
Family clenched tight
Clinging to the common bond
Strangers become family
Grasping at hope
Desperate for peace.
Where were you when the towers fell?
Back to your methodical drone.
No care in the world, not one reminder
On this ten-year anniversary
Please don’t make this
Just another day of routine folly.
-Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
September 11, 2011

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