Monday, March 11, 2013

Picking Your Battles

So yeah, it's been a rough few weeks apparently, from my last blog posted. Things have though, thankfully,  calmed down a bit although my husband thinks he needs to "think about some things and get his head figured out". I am not really sure what that means but, I get it. We have been civil to each other but, no more meetings on the battlefield. There have been some nice efforts made on his part but, he sees no wrong in anything he said or did. That part bothers me the most. He dodges anything that relates to "us" so our kids are really the only thing we have that keeps us on mutual ground. I still feel like I am being blamed for something, being pushed away for God knows what and still have no clue what's going on with him. I think out of all of it? The blame hurts the worse especially when there is no reason I can find. He thinks he is beyond saving and I see much more left to save.

How's that for controversy? Try finding "compromise" in that statement. 

I wonder from time to time, if love can't save our Veterans then, what really does? Is there more out there we can do? Then from time to time, I put all my frustrations and heartaches into fighting for him and others. I really don't see myself as an advocate. I try to write to help others but, advocacy is such a strong word and often, I shy away from it. Hell, I am a volunteer with Family of a Vet, a friend that I've had for five years now and I can't seem to do enough! I try to help where I can but, at least she knows if she needs me, I've got her back or at the very least, bail money. I'm so proud of her and all her work she does along with all of our bloggers. I spend most of my pain, fighting back against what is wrong, putting all my strength into pushing for what was earned, and then battling the system as if I have nothing to lose. Right now, I wonder if I possibly just fought too much, and did it lead me into this situation and my husband? Maybe he figured I just left him behind. although supportive, he uses it against me when he is angry. It's why sometimes, I stay unsure of myself. I don't think he realizes that he was the reason I fought so hard. Leave no man behind right? Isn't that what we are all taught in the military? I really don't know what to think because well, I am somewhat lost on this whole part of it.

I am still continuing with my personal vendetta with myself and placing some challenges for me to complete.

I went ahead and did the radio interview with Dick Gordon, with The Story, in which my husband was supportive of. I enjoyed this experience immensely and thought for the first time in a long time albeit nervous, that maybe my self doubt is just coming from not knowing what direction I am going in. I am usually the lady with the plan, the poker faced Mistress with a few aces up her sleeves and a crap load of Jokers. I can pretty much keep that bluff for a long time, making even myself believe that I got it figured out. Honestly though, sometimes I have no idea. I also blame being a Virgo in all this mess and possibly still revisiting the whole menopause/demon possession as well. During the radio interview, I felt comfortable like maybe I was supposed to be there. All I can hope for is no back lash like I have had in the past for what I say; which is usually the non-sugar coated version of our lives. It was a good day. I drove home listening to my Ipod, belting out a few tunes, smiling at the fact I spun in the office chair in the studio and drank water from a cup that said "Life is Young". I decided that day, you know what? I am not going to just hide behind my computer. I need to get out more and just do more things. I almost decided to get rid of the purple and magenta highlights but, somehow it just suits me and it's still my hostage negotiation. I am afraid if I go back, I go back three steps personally. Still have the purple toenails, and polka dotted nails. Might change that up a bit. So keeping to the 101 challenge and adding on to my list. This time, for no one but myself.

It's been a long time coming but, maybe that's what scaring my husband?

I came home that one fine afternoon to a virtual storm of emails, MEB appeals denied and an upset husband. I have to tell you, I think battling the VA was much easier than navigating the Army's system of the Medical Evaluation Board. It makes no sense, the requirements you must jump over while doing a hand stand and the paperwork; it's no wonder why people give up, don't understand how to do it, and how they get screwed over so badly. I spent my whole day yesterday trying to figure out this mess and why they denied our appeal which is the residuals of the TBI, his back and knees and why they only want to put him out for PTSD. It seems the Army wants to only look at one day, in 2007 when our guys landed back home. One day, in which all their injuries were documented, promised to be taken care of, then just like that....disappeared. According to what I read in the denial in response to the appeal, which by the way, a third grader could have made more sense in writing it, it seemed to me they disregarded the last five years of medical records. It's all there. We rolled the dice, took the gamble and went with an Independent Medical Review to look over everything and base their opinion.

There you go, sometimes you just have to take chances even when the odds are against you. 

Now why is it a gamble? Because it can go against you or for you is how it was explained to us by JAG. You could have one doctor having a really bad day, the kind where they think "screw it. I'll just flip through this and say whatever". You are basically asking a doctor, who is on the outside and has no knowledge before hand or nothing to do with your case, to look everything over and say yay or nay. Well, we rolled that dice and it turned out that the doctor not only verified, backed it all up with her opinions in our favor but, also added two more diagnosis's. I figured, this cats in the bad. Wrong.

The Army wants to go back to six years ago, on the day of landing and because his records have nothing there they just want to deny everything based on one day. Tell me that makes any sense at all.  It took everything I had to keep the rage I felt under control because the records they are looking at are the only ones they have, because WE gave it to them. I swear, if I had a nickel for every time someone said "how strange is it that they have lost everything not just once, but several times?", "well, your husband's case is a backwards one" and "holy hell what a mess!", I would take that money and find me a really good ambulance chaser who would sue the Army for negligence, lying, covering it up, abuse, complete disregard for soldier's personnel records and then there is the safety concerns we have. If they lost all these records for these soldiers, who has them and who has access to the information?

Then everyone wants to know why we trust no one and demand copies of everything. 

We are now on our 3rd PEBLO which isn't really helping matters since the last one left this one a pile of mass confusion in an already overloaded caseload. If I ever locate our last one, I got a few things to say to him. We tried to express our concerns, our questions and even did a conference call with her, our military caseworker and Federal Reserve officer and somehow in all that....apparently she fell asleep. This week though, I had to suck up the pride all while listening to her lies, excuses and appeal to her woman to woman just fighting for their husbands. I am not sure that worked or not. We shall see. I really don't know exactly what a PEBLO does, or maybe the job descriptions that are listed and from what everyone tells me they are; doesn't seem to be any guidelines the ones we have had are following, After clearing up some questions she had, it finally hit her like Ah hah! I incurred a few bangs against the wall while on the phone, a nosebleed while further banging my head against the keyboard, a much needed Xanex and the consideration of just becoming an alcoholic (just a joke so please don't send me emails in regards to my alcoholism).....perhaps we might be one further step ahead with this one. The debate is still out though and I am not holding my breath.

It's been a nightmare. One I want to finally just wake up from and be done.

From my earlier posts and with the power of the internet, my open invitation to General Talley got a response. He was pretty upset with me in a closed response and that's ok. I deserved it and so did he. So I think we are even on the playing field. I probably wasn't nice and after re-reading it, I realized blogging and a bottle of wine probably wasn't the wisest choice. However, he did say that he could be contacted and see he could help. It's a little too late now and I have contacted him before with no response from his office or the people who work in there telling me to go somewhere else. I normally don't attack people without a warranted and previous burned experience. Now that we have someone else from the unit coming forward with the exact same story and lost records, no awards etc, I feel better about telling him all. So that is my next project. It might be too late for us but maybe it might alert him to some issues that are there for the others. I figure if I run into the same run around from his office like before, I will mail the same letter every week until someone answers.

I would just like someone to say "I'm sorry. I wish I had known then to help you" but then, I think I would rather have them do something to make it easier. I am tired of fighting. The Mistress will of course, apologize because after reading that post I realized I came out the fences with my boxing gloves on, fueled by courage, wine, hurt and anger in a comment he made and I wasn't probably fair to him to be honest. I still stand by the rest of my open invitation. I just don't like people telling me the Army is our family because we have learned very quickly that family shuts their doors and all of you have agreed so I know that I am not being just a hard ass that no one can get along with. That's the truth and, perhaps once he knows our story and others, maybe he will understand why I extended the invitation to come and visit his "family". I am still getting emails out of the wazoo from different Army departments just sympathizing but, some that truly want to do something. I wish I had all the hours in the world so I could get caught up.

With much of the MEB, I am going to have to pick some of the battles. Me being the person I am, I want to fight in them all but, deep down I know I just can't. I know some of it will be denied, some won and some lost. It's just the way it is. I am just going to have to accept that and, so will my husband. I've been fueled by sheer desperation, what is right and wrong an most of all? The fear of letting him down when the rest of the world did. It's time to accept that I can't win them all and some battles, even if just small...will have to be accepted as major wins especially in this life.

Doesn't mean I didn't try like hell though to win them all. 

After talking to our JAG, I appealed to him as a person to me as a person; just two human beings, shooting the shit. I was nice, and I explained why I won't give up and he explained what my best options are. I know their jobs are tough. I asked him how does he do it? Haven't you ever wondered how these guys and girls do these jobs every day and then go home to sleep at night? I have. I don't think I could do it at all. I know all of them are overloaded, buried under red tape, dead lines and cases that are lengthy that don't get closed can be very detrimental to that caseworker. I read quite a bit and am not the average joe blow and I always try to be fair, for all sides......until they piss me off and talk down to me. One question I always ask them is "wouldn't you do this for your spouse or would you just lie down and give up?". I joked and told him with as much spit fire as I have, I should have been a lawyer. He told me it was never too late. Who knows?

In other news in my crazy antics, my participation in the Dole Foundation paid off with the release this week of Phase One of the Rand Study on Military Caregivers and Families of our Veterans. I can say, with deep pride, this is one small step but what a huge jump it will give all of us in the future. It's been splashed all over the internet, all over the news and we have some exciting stuff coming with all this. You can view it here in the PDF format, so you don't have to pay for it. I know many of the VA's read my blog (yes, I can see you on here ;) ) Please read as it might help you get some stats. I think besides this blog, doing a few news reports, I am most proud that my voice is in that Rand Study. It was long overdue and hopefully it will help later down the road. 

I am currently trying to take a few things at a time, one day at a time and choosing my battles. I am very weary and sometimes in this world of ours? It can become very monotonous to breathe, eat, sleep, dream and live PTSD, TBI, War and all that comes with it. I will try to help my husband sort out what's going on in his head and help where I can with his thinking he is too far gone. Mostly though? I think I have carried him far enough and some of this, he will have to learn to stand on his own. I realized that much of the time, I can only stand back and watch him fight his own war. It is one of the hardest things to do but, at the same time, I have myself and my children to carry too. I am working on starting my support group in the area, tossing some ideas around (keeping myself grounded though Miss Torrey on the ideas) and even pitched in with a new group called Warrior Chef. I have always liked to cook, been a been there, done that on trying to feed a family of five on a small budget and he is a dear friend of mine. It's different, it's fun and I like his spunk to get out there and just do it! Although I am many states away, I would like him to succeed in this program. I am also doing this for me. I secretly always wanted to write a cookbook so maybe this will pacify my need for that dream that slipped by. 

Know it doesn't take much to burn both ends of the candle out quickly.

So warrior wife to those out there reading; my tip of the day is that sometimes you just have to step back. If feelings get hurt, or someone gets mad. Hell, let them get mad or hurt. Whatever is not done on that small list for the day? It will still be there tomorrow. Get out there and do something just for yourself. Spin in an office chair, do something crazy you normally wouldn't do, and learn to pick your battles. There will always be battles in this life and there will always be victories and losses. Sometimes though, you just have to the strength to stand up, wave the white flag and walk away in order to save your sanity. Know and understand that sometimes there is absolutely nothing we can do to help fight the battles in our Veteran's heads except be there to support, love and encourage. It doesn't make us failures I decided, it just makes us that much stronger.......

"To fight and conquer in all our battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
Sun Tzu



  1. Love you, USM... don't you forget that. And ADVOCATE (kick "six" ADVOCATE at that) is the exact right word. Don't sell yourself short, and don't let that hero of yours do it either.


  2. DesertcoloredglassesMarch 13, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    You followed me back and forth from Iraq and you really helped my wife. Don't forget you were there to listen when I needed someone. An advocate you are and a friend to my family. I know things are rough right now but you sharing it all? Means the rest of us can breathe and I think that goes for us Veterans and spouses. You gave my wife confidence, support and education. I wish there was some way to take the pain away for you. You deserve so much happiness. Keep your chin up. Thank you for everything you have done. I owe you.

  3. I am really proud of you and all I can say is THANK YOU!!!!! This is the first time I can say I am not alone. Its reading my story, its my tears and emptiness. Don't give up on yourself and please, don't give up on us. I am finally understanding more than I ever did from yellow ribbon ceremony training. The Army is doing us the same way and I know its hard for you to spill it all, but its helping all of us. Thank you again. Amanda


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