Monday, March 24, 2014

Iraq 11 years later

Some of you may or may not know that March 2014 marks the 11 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Although I was only 10 years old at the time of the invasion, I do remember it very clearly. By that time my brother already enlisted in the army and was waiting to graduate high school and head to basic training.

My reality was that I knew my brother would be there, and a year later he was in one of the most dangerous cities.

At 10 years old, I didn't really understand what was happening or why we were even there. Just that my brother was leaving and I didn't want him to go.

To me it is really sad that there has been no mention of this date, regardless of where you stand on the war or what political affiliation I think we have to remember these men and women who fought, died and were wounded there.

Over 30,000 US men and women came home injured...there are countless service members with missing limbs or having to relearn basic life skills. Thousands of family members have now given up lives to be come full time care givers.

Over 4,000 troops were killed...Leaving thousands of widows behind...leaving thousands of Gold Star children behind...leaving thousands of Gold Star moms and dads and brothers and sisters.

There are a never ending amount of brain injuries sustained during the war and another large amount of members having PTSD.

Total number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq War 4,487
Total percentage of male U.S. troops killed in the Iraq War 98%
Total percentage of U.S. non-officers that were killed in the Iraq War 82%
Total number of U.S. soldiers wounded in the Iraq War 32,223
Percent of U.S. soldiers wounded with serious brain or spinal injuries 20 %
Total percentage of U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq War who developed serious mental health problems within 4 months of returning home 30 %
Number of U.S. helicopters downed in Iraq War 75
[http://www.statisticbrain.com/iraq-war-statistics/]

We have thousands of young men and women who have come home and some go back to war in Afghanistan but some have lost their way.

My brother posted a great blog post talking about those who have served and now have to go back to civilian life and how difficult and really impossible it is for some to adjust.

[http://www.oafnation.com/musings-of-a-grey-man/2014/3/10/when-the-music-stops]

Now that I've gotten all this written out, the point of this post was to talk about the lack of coverage, and I don't mean because the anniversary I mean for these men and women.

What hit me the most from the post my brother shared was the section about having "wasted" lives...I have heard people refer to Iraq and Afghanistan as a waste...but those live lost and the lives still living that wasn't a waste, those are the highlights of my generation. I was 11 years old saying goodbye to my brother with other "men" (not even old enough to drink yet) doing the same thing to all go off to war.

We in America, treat our veterans as a burden...not for what they are. A HERO. If you are willing to strap on those boots and go to wherever you are needed you are a hero.

In America we have pushed them to the back burner and their families too...Wounded Warrior Project says it best with "the greatest casualty is being forgotten"

We have forgotten why we have freedoms...these men and women. So although March is nearly over I think everyone should take time and remember those who are STILL in Afghanistan, remember those who have lost their lives and their families, and remember those who are trying to rejoin society.

Don't let these men and women become forgotten.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Support is KEY!

So I just read an article on CNN it was amazing. My life goal has been reaffirmed by this article. I want to help veterans and their families and this just showed my how needed that help is.

LINK TO ARTICLE: http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/03/us/uncounted-suicides/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

This article talked about suicide, we know it happens fairly often among soldiers, but what about the families left at home. At no point during my brothers deployments had I thought about suicide, but if something would have happened to him I don't know what I would do.

I know people handle situations in different ways, for me I distract myself. I fill my life plate so full that I don't have time to worry. At least not visibly worry. How ever you handle it having support is what will really help.

Growing up I was the only one of my friends with someone in the military, support wasn't really happening at school. I had it at home but at some point you want to have friends by your side too. As military siblings we are pretty much put on the back-burner, we have to be strong for the spouses or parents, but what about us!?

One of the main reasons I've started this blog is to support siblings in any way possible. I've been the kid who can't watch the news, whose scared to answer the door (seeing a random car on my street scared me to death, at 11 years old I knew that those cars could be telling me my brother isn't coming home), I've been so scared and stressed and just needed someone to talk to who understands and not had that. I don't want other siblings to feel this way ever!

There really aren't many places to reach out to for counseling help through military group (at least non that I am aware of)

The best advice I can give is lean on your family find a friend who you can vent to, cry to, and sometimes complain to. They don't have to be a military sibling to listen. Build a support system, at church, school, with a sports team...somewhere find people who you can call at anytime.

Feel free to reach out to me, regardless of the issue I am always willing to talk.

If (an God forbid) you have lost a sibling(or any military loved one for that matter) get in contact with TAPS (The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) they do amazing work!

Find a support system just for you and I promise it will make it all a little easier!

Monday, March 3, 2014

What puts a smile on my face-and even some happy tears?

As military siblings, or really any close relative to a someone in the military there will be really great ups and some plummeting downs.

The military life is never easy and its not as glamorous or as exciting as a lot of movies show. I have taught myself to always be distracted. During a deployment I try really hard to prevent any free time. ( I was literally president or involved in every group in high school and middle school and played soccer)

Over the years of deployments and even just school stress I've had some pretty bad days. I have actually had a few the past week or two. I have a few things I turn to to life my spirits.

1. A good book! This is a new thing for me I HATE reading honestly dreaded it for a really long time. Now I can't stop. You give me any military book and I'll read it! They always bring me back to reality and how lucky I am and how blessed we are. (some like the Lone Survivor or Service will make you cry but its worth it)

2. A nice long walk with my dog. My dog Lola is my child I've had her for 3 months and we got her from a local shelter. She is a 2 year old German Shepherd and she loves walks. I live near Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery and park (also a base for air national guard) That place is my therapy. I just feel like a weight is lifted and I can just breath there. Those walks are just refreshing and a calming. I've been doing this since High school and it never fails.

3. I LOVE watching Military homecomings. I'm a sucker for these, I don't cry often but when I do I'm probably watching these. {disclaimer, don't get all excited about a surprise homecoming, 3 deployments and 1 year long over seas station no fun surprise homecoming}

And sometimes when all else fails, its okay to just cry. That cry might be really needed to just let everything go. Nothing wrong with that at all.

Some of my favorite videos!