Saturday, July 19, 2014

Advocacy: Part One (How to Find Your Voice)

"Norma Rae" Movie based off of the life and advocacy/organizational work of Crystal Lee Sutton

I get asked a lot of questions solely on advocacy, how to get started, how to land "important" roles, how to become a "power house", how to change the world, how to speak up, how to get on all these trips, how to voice your opinions or story when you are scared and well, the list goes on.....

In truth and honesty....I don't know how the hell I got here. 

I have had to take a brief hiatus from many things due to severe health issues. I will do this in several posts because I know, I am long winded and I tire myself out these days. Honestly, there is no answer of the right way but damn, there is a sure fired way list of doing it wrong! I don't know if it's just me or if it's always been there but, a few things I have seen on social media networks while down, have left me sort of not wanting to write this particular post because I am surprised, embarrassed, and shocked at the behavior of some. However, I did promise my readers I would respond. How can one give you suggestions with so many doing some things wrong? Kind of hard in my opinion but, there is just too much misinformation being handed out like pills, stupidity, ignorance, petty jealousy, fierce competition, power struggle and much more. I guess I always thought we were teams in my "all for one" method of advocating but, the hard truth? It's simply not that way in many areas or people and, there aren't any letter I's in that word but yet "I" keeps popping up everywhere. It's probably been the last six months that I have honestly admitted that I don't play well with others.

But I digress......

So after thinking long and hard, I am going to try my best to give my honest view, thoughts and hopefully in that and my own sense of humor and ways; an answer for all those who asked. One that will help mold the right person, to fight as an advocate and a damn good one. This may include examples of what not to do, some weird examples, thought provoking and help you find the answer.Truthfully, we all have it in us; we just need someone to point it out.  I will possibly piss a lot of people off in the process which is fine too. I figure if they take this personally, then they have done the very thing I am speaking of and in my words they are merely finding their own reflection. First, I never really looked at myself as an advocate until others began looking at me and telling me face to face that I was one. I'll be honest, if I am one? I am probably not a very good one but, I never left anyone behind and I never not tried; that counts. I have the balls to admit that I am not that great. Since we were National Guard and Army Reserves Combat Wounded, I stuck to what I knew and in the areas I researched for my fight only. By that, it meant my coming forward with our story, fighting for our family, advocating for my husband solely and willing to take chances and risks. You have to stand tall, be willing to voice your story and in a way that is going to catch someone's attention but, not in a way that is so outlandish like a "shock and awe" method that you don't stick with. Sometimes that means drawing outside the lines, finding ways around the system in crevices that no one chose to look because it was harder and willing to break the rules every once in a while all while still following the standard procedure. Sharing your story is where it begins and it's a large step. I will caution you that it is vital one that needs to be discussed as a family and agreed upon by both the Veteran and family members because once it's out there? It's there. You will be scrutinized, comments will be made good or bad, you will be judged, you will be praised but, at the same time? It can be like releasing a pressure cooker lid off if you can find a way to share it and, your rewarded with the ones your story does help because like you....they are sitting there wondering how they start too. You aren't just speaking up, you are creating movement. Think about that.

The "Yodas" Of This and Past Wars

I chose to blog under an anonymous name in which the anonymity is about gone but, I never thought anyone would read it in a million years but, ya'll proved me wrong. That anonymity gave me a shelter I felt when I was scared, a mask where I could find the courage to face the open world and one, that I could take refuge in if the fight became too much. It took a few years matter a fact before I even touched the uncertain waters of helping other soldiers and that was just by accident. Seriously.... and, only because I talk to everyone.  However, I didn't just jump in with head first without looking to see if the pool was filled. I have seen a lot of that lately and unfortunately, that is giving some really good advocates a bad light and scaring off some potentially good ones. The new ones are floundering around, flipping out business cards and telling everyone they know it all but, when it comes to push and shove; they run to someone else for answers. Or they start asking the "Yodas" of a particular area/war all while badmouthing them as they try to look good in the spotlight and, I see a lot of mistakes being made mostly due to pure ego. Yep, I said it. EGO.  I have to give my UPMOST respect to the "long timers" as we call some of the long term ones with experience and years under their belt. Some I look to as my mentors, my heroes and hope that I can one day be as stoic and amazing as they are. 

They have been through a lot of hell but yet, even though they probably want to say snarkily "PATIENCE you must have, my young Padowan. Now piss off you must" they instead gracefully and elegantly, share what they know; even to those who ask a lot of questions yet do the freaking opposite of what you told them. This can lead to detrimental backfires, frustration on both parties, wasted amounts of time and people who look at all advocates as "just another one". Secondly to this, the "Yodas" are running around and trying to contain the fire because some are playing with matches. This can lead to major burnout and many of them have backed away trying to find their sanity again. Lesson in this, research your stuff, fight your own battle first, ask questions and take notes, listen to what they are saying because we are all in this together many of us believe and it's why we want to help. You never know what might pop up in a conversation that may help you down the road; even years later.

Did you know that most of us advocates, bloggers, writers are just like you here reading and, many of us still fighting our own battles all while juggling home life and  advocating for others? It truly and honestly all boils down to this, the "Yodas" as I lovingly refer to them, are probably the wisest having to go through so much crap because there was no help. Even myself, going into our eight year, am amazed at how much there is out there. The thing is though, no one wants to hear the sacrifices, the hardships, the tales of warfare they went through alone, or even acknowledge that because of these men and women, you all have what you do now. THOSE are the stories that one can learn from and unfortunately, some want to jump from A to Z and that leads to uncaring, uneducated, no lessons learned from the "school of hard knocks", advocates who **think** they know it all. You can stay on the computer 24 hours a day reading manuals, transcripts, medication sites, VA website and still don't have the "grit". Truth is, you don't know anything unless you pay attention, walked those miles and can learn from those who stood up so many years ago when there wasn't a voice at all. Those men and women are ones you can learn how to begin finding your place. Lesson here? Start by researching your own stuff, take the stories from those ahead of you and follow in their footsteps. I am always learning new stuff all the time from people and am like wow, it's amazing how much they knoooow! A to Z at 160 mph is only going to leave you looking like a screaming, wailing, unstable family member who gives up because B-Y showed you how to do everything else.

A Room With A View

In example from an email I answered not too long ago (Thank you C for allowing me to share), "I am too scared to speak up. I don't want to get in trouble by sharing but, we have to get our benefits and his retirement. What if we get in trouble? What happens then? It's much easier to give up my husband says and just worry about it later but, I know that would be wrong right? I would love to be more involved as an advocate but I don't know how to speak up. So how did some of these ladies do it all?". As I told this young lady, she made the first move by thinking/feeling she wants to fight it. She is weighing the pros and cons, she is faced with two dilemmas; do I fight or give up? But, at the same time....she didn't know the "later" part and once it's done, it's done with Uncle Sam. There is your start and a good one. She has already begun the the thought process. She just wasn't sure what the repercussions of it would be and could she handle the pressure? She is also looking at handling too much at once. I explained first you have to play your own game and learn your style. Not every advocate is the same. I know of one from the Carolina's who has the most beautiful smile, Southern accent, one I always referred to as "Yoda", but when it comes to her stuff? Man, that smile can turn into shark's teeth and she will tear someone up to advocate. You can almost by phone hear the Jaw's theme song playing while she is calculating and running it through her mind. Duh dum...duh dum....duh dum duh dum and then BOOM she has the answers and fierce about it. Another one in Alabama that I found many years ago who has the softest voice you ever heard. It's almost angelic with that twang and kindness. However, these two women were responsible for many many of the things now we have available or pushed and shoved til they got what they set out to do. But, they did it by learning their own way.  There are some men and women responsible for major changes in this war. BUT they had to fight their own battles. They walked their own path. So I give your questions this hypothetical scenario because it's a good example of what you are to embark on.

There are only two ways out of the room; a window and a door. No, the house is not on fire, no major weather dangers, you are merely just trying to leave the house. But you have to leave fast, get out your way because there is no one to ask, AND there are a few surprises waiting for you. Who knows what the surprises are? You are only armed with your body and intelligence. Door would be easier wouldn't it? You can just turn the knob, open and walk until you are facing a dark stairwell only to find no light or light switch. Or.... you could go to the window and think "if I can shimmy my ass down the side of the pipe, I could probably get away faster than taking the door and using the creepy stairs. Or I could just drop, tuck and roll. I could possibly make the jump without any major bones breaking." You can see you have clearance, you see no major issues unless the height scares you. Notice how one automatically thinks of many more options when you can physically see something?

 Sooo....Which one is REALLY the easiest?

Survey says many will answer "Window" as many would choose a room with a view to the dark stairwell any day. (Unless you are a bad ass Ranger or Spec Ops that can kill with one pinkie finger) Why? Because you think you see everything. Who knows what lies at the bottom of the darkened stairway? There may be another remake of Friday the 13th, part 28 co-starring Kim Kardashian with Jason waiting for you! Her ass might be blocking the light from the window (Hey Eminem said it first) and you may not see Jason as he lies in the shadows waiting. Don't know do you? You may get out the window and jump down, run away and all is done. However, even with a clear view, you may not land where you wanted right away but, how far are you willing to jump is the question? What if you land on your face, will you give up? Will you cry and want to quit? What happens if you misjudged the distance? What if you tuck and roll straight into a tree and a wasp nest falls on your head? Same goes for Jason and Kim down the stairs. You probably could push Kim into Jason and he hacks her all up while you make your clean get away BUT here is another thing one of my students pointed out... if they were down there together to begin with, they may be partners in crime. I would be suspicious because something isn't right if Kim is still standing and he's waiting on you.


It's harder to leap into the unknown isn't it? Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what life throws at you; problems and, it's up to you to find the viable solutions to any problem at any time on any given day.  There may never be an easy way out. It's a corny cliche scenario I just gave you but, one I used to pose to my History Seniors when they said "Is there an easy way to learn all this crap?" (except thanks to my son who pointed out that most don't know who Jason or Cyndi Lauper is so we had to change that due to generational gaps). You think finding your voice is scary, try teaching World/U.S. History to a bunch of High School seniors who popped gum, didn't listen and gave you more headaches than your own children and definitely more reasons to use birth control. The lesson here is when faced with dilemmas, how will you face those objects, hurdles and can you provide yourself options? When faced with a problem, can you provide several ways out of that house we talked about? Start there. Always have a game plan. Even when it comes to yourself and your family, always have a plan B up your sleeve. 

Fear is something that holds all of us back. Mostly because of the Unknown factor that shows its ugly face in the game. You have to take the reigns on that one, weigh the pros and cons, the results you wish to set as goals and the consequences of doing so. For some, just the latter scares the hell out of them. Here is that wholesome honesty ya'll like; you can't advocate for anyone else unless you can stand up and fight for yourself and your Veteran. If you can't speak up, or voice your story but, expect to get into advocacy of the same nature it's not going to be easy; sort of like looking at one high dive into that empty pool I mentioned earlier or say, having the aspiration to become a stripper but, afraid to take your clothes off. Once you are comfortable in speaking up, test the waters on the reactions you receive from sharing just yours, then you move on to other areas. Now how does one learn to find their voice? That is hard. I guess in a way it's the anger, the frustration that you feel all through your body and its when you've simply had enough. I don't know how to express it (and forgive my comparison as it's gross) but, it's the best I can use in layman's terms.

It's more like the sickness when you contract food poisoning or a stomach bug. Probably not the best examples I have used but, when you are that sick, you get pissed, miserable, questioning why today? God, I'm going to die! Why me and not my boss? Or my nosy neighbor? Then you want to rest and tell yourself you will get better later. You just want to be done right? You want to get through it, you want to get better, you want to move on. You want to fight against it. You may even start by sipping that Coke and one saltine cracker the old school nurse used to dole out and swore by. Your mind says "FIGHT it, you can do it" but, your stomach is saying "Oh my God, HELL noooo!" and you still get sick. BUT... you STILL took the chance didn't you? You were able to stick your foot and feel around to see if you can do it. I guess the answer lies in your own intuition. If you are asking how do I find my voice, then you are already two steps in the dance. What are you sick of? What is it that you want the most? How far are you willing to take it to grasp that swinging rope? How far will you look for that rope or other options when push comes to shove. When you get there, can you handle the pressure and hold your head high? Most of much do you want it?
Breaking Dishes
I think personally you get pissed to the point where you can't contain it, you explode inward and from that self combustion....comes a small sound. It may happen during hidden tears behind the door, in the shower, in the car or hell, anywhere. It's that small feeling of relief that you get from the "ugly cry" and freedom of release...well, that's the breath you want to inhale to begin to find your voice. Then you simply build on, brick by brick. You may have to go back and change a few layers, you may falter and fail, but you just keep building. Ever just gone literally psycho for one single minute and thrown a plate or glass into the sink and watch it shatter? I may or may not have done that and, can neither confirm or deny it. However, for all parties involved....let's just say that I appreciate the Euro tradition of throwing plates and glasses at weddings probably a lot more than I should. I *would* call it creative destructiveness, a moment of one's self acknowledgement in an innovative manner, a clever and prolific epiphany, or a visionary, stimulating way to express your feelings in a beautiful mosaic formation. Sounds much better than psychotic break down or moment of insanity. Kind of like when they call over the loud speaker at the VA "CODE BLUE" which probably means "We got a RUUUUNNNER"! (I have nooo idea what Code Blue means but I do know many family members do a head count and check to see if their Veteran is with them) Matter a fact, I would like to see breaking dishes recommended as a source of unconventional therapy along with some serious angry music at least once a year. 

(Warning because there is always that one person: USM is not responsible for any actions and by no means encourages you to break shit and hurt someone or yourself. Please use thinking process, sanity, logic, safety glasses and use a large range of personal safe space to do this and I, will deny everything. I mean everything!

Getting that Voice Out There By Using the Police
I had a great professor in a speech class that I was forced to take in college. He was pretty innovative and I always appreciated his unconventional teaching because it stuck with you. He once told us to get over the fear of speaking up was to write. Just anything on a piece of paper, notebook, back of a book or online as a journal or blog. He said once, the greatest writers were the ones who never thought first about what they wrote, they just did it. Even if it didn't start the beginning or finish the ending, just anything that came to mind. If it was "F*CK A DUCK" and that's all that came? It matters because it came from you and that was just you only. I have always written that way ever since. I don't have to think about it. I might sit down with a topic and it just goes wherever like this one even though I hope you are learning something in a fun and creative encouraging manner! Blogging, a journal, writing anything is a GREAT way to start because you still have that privacy of the screen, you still have that feeling of security but, at the same time you feel freedom, relief, and you got it out of you. Now talking in front of people freaks anyone out. Lord, I've seen some excellent speakers who you would have NEVER known got nervous but, they were sweating, anxiety rashes, blood pressures up, shaking like bad people in churches. Hey, we aren't perfect! Same professor gave us an assignment every night. He told us to go home and pretend we were cops in front of the mirror. Practice it over and over again. "Police! Put your hands up!", "FBI! FREEEZE SUCKER!" or "Get down on the ground and keep your hands where I can see them!". Might explain why my neighbors always thought I was going to the police academy. In that first few weeks, we were expanding our vocabulary to the Miranda rights, learn the poker face, telling ourselves "You ARE a BADASS! You can knock this out!", learned some new tactics and by then? Even the mousiest, quietest man in the room was able to perfect the absolute firmest voice that we were still stunned. I think now looking back, that was the first time I heard him period because I am legally deaf in one ear. He used Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood as his police mantra. If you squinted hard enough....he sort of did take on the Eastwood look. I still to this day get nervous about speaking up and have that little shake in my voice especially in a room full of my peers. Strangers not so bad but your peers? Holy shit, they scare me! People just don't realize it because of that poker face most of us have developed and plastered on. Seriously though? It helps. When I had to make several speeches locally, I would always hold up my hair brush and take the stance. The Professor like I said was, unconventional but his point was this. If you had a room full of people, and you HAD to get everyone to hear you in an emergency? How can you do it by being mute or whisper? However, you say "FBI! GET DOWN! GET DOWN " well, everyone is going to stop and listen. It also boosts your confidence and makes you stand up straight. Trust me, watch a few shows on Cops or Dog the Bounty won't see anyone slouching unless they're the bad guys. HUGE difference from beginning to end of the semester. We were able to discuss recipes in a debate method, or look at something we absolutely were against and talk about the pros of it.  Use a Water gun if you want to have some extra fun.

So that, is a very lengthy long talk about speaking up. Unconventional but, who said I was normal anyway? I am not discouraging anyone, I am merely using the "Wax On,Wax Off Method" for young grasshoppers, lessons I learned from my youth, the "Yodas" and, from my very own mistakes. Some great tools too are music. Music can gear you up and make you want to fight. One in particular right now I am loving is "Burning Gold" by Christina Perri. Listen to the lyrics. It's a good song about being tired, wanting a change, believing in yourself and a catchy tune. So I will sign off for now and work on my next really unconventional thoughts on how to be a damn good advocate. BUT first, I challenge you to some movies. Some are hard to find but, they can be found online, netflix, Xbox etc. Movies; Some great ones to revisit or watch for the first time for that "get up and go gumption" that you need. All these are based on true stories except for a few. 
Wild Horse's Can't Be Broken
Norma Rae
Working Girl
Erin Brocovich
The Heat
A League of their Own
Cool Runnings
Schindler's List
Dangerous Minds
Lead the Way
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Pay it Forward
Freedom Writers
Taking Chance
Lean on Me
The Monuments Men
Now You See Me
We Bought a Zoo
The Blind Side
Shawshank Redemption

Mostly these are for the women but, if there are any men out there who are looking into stepping out, still a great way to see options, game changes and plans, overcoming disabilities, adapting to changes, opening your eyes to new things, new challenges, working together as a team. There will be times where you can't work with someone or just absolutely can't stand them. (trust me, I have my share of those who don't like me). BUT, when push comes to shove, some of these movies show how to work together, the effort and time put into it, going against all odds, against adversity, working when there is no credit given (Monuments Men) and having that escape plan. You will find failure, mistakes, faltering but, still getting up, dusting off your ass and keep going. 

So this will end Lesson One. I will follow up with the professionalism, manners, courtesy, compassion and more in my next plan. If you got this far, then you have made the first steps and already bought your ticket.

Remember, It just takes one voice to create one large movement.


  1. Omg! I have choked twice on my water and my husband thinks I've lost my mind! This was fantastic and I did learn! You broke so much down for me. I chose window too but you made me think. I read it outloud to DH and he laughed his ass off but also chose window! I am totally doing the police mantra! I get scared in the VA when someone says something nasty. Thank you for answering some of my many questions! I am excited for my next lesson wise one.

  2. Seriously? This has to be the BEST ever fucking post because my advocate through a non named non profit doesn't know shit and she could care less. I try to speak out on my injuries but will give the police thing a try. Hope the ol lady doesn't put me in a hospital somewhere. Sharing with her now. Came across you via twitter. Love your humor and the yodas. Funny shit. You got something special. Thank you from Uncle Sams discarded family in texas.

  3. I am really liking your style! I get this. I chose window too and when I finished with that, was like wait! What? But it makes sense! So what you are saying is fight your battles first then get into advocacy. Sometimes things aren't going to go as expected so think of some possible outcomes and be ready for some more unexpected. I am scared to share my story so yeah one of those people but what you said made sense. I was laughing so hard over the Jason vs Kim at the stairwell because I never would've thought about that. I am a teacher, is there anyway possible for me to share your easy scenario if I give credit to you? Man I bet you are fun in person. I've been quietly reading and for a long time. I just had to tell you I've learned so very much from you. It's fun and perky, maybe even quirky. It's fantastic. You don't suck as an advocate. You are advocating so many things radiating from this blog. I hope to look at you as my Yoda! God bless you. Now off to practice my police stance and fig out where to start on my own battle. I know I'm ready because yes, change is needed but have to start with my own first. I read a lot of blogs but none like yours! Please I pray your health is ok. What would I do without you? I find that I reread your posts all the time! Excited for the next installment! Your biggest WI fan!

  4. DesertcoloredglassesJuly 20, 2014 at 6:25 AM

    Ok so you know me and I will be the first to say you haven't failed any of us. So check it out. Got this new "rep "I supp to help with the independent fund? Guy won't even call my ass back! I am much like you. I sit back, do a little listening and some of these advocates are talking about what they got at this conference or they hope to make fuckin Mil Spouse of the Year or some shit. We go WAY back you know and never once have I ever heard anything close to that or bragging. You hear us, you choose to voice us as a team. Hell woman! I would think that is what makes an advocate. You never left any of us behind and since then? All I can think is wanting to help others because someone saved my life. Jason and Kim? Yeah that made me laugh. My wife loves this blog and we learned a lot from you. You keep doing what you do because it's right. That's why if people dont like you it's because they aren't being honest. Anyway, awesome damn post. Can't wait for part two. Love ya like a sister from another mister Mistress. I really mean that.

  5. I wrote in once and asked how do I find my own voice. While this post was probably the weirdest and funniest way to learn, I GOT IT! I get scared to say anything at the VA or on post here at any confrontation. I have been guilty of jumping from A to Z and my husband agreed. So I must learn now how to do the in between. I have asked others who are claiming to be advocates but honestly its hard to approach them. Its like school cafeteria tables and all the cool kids sit at one. Their attitude is horrendous and appalling. So how does one approach a yoda without getting kicked to the curb? I want to hear their stories so maybe I don't feel so alone. This was a great teaching tool and all my husband and I have talked about was the window vs the door. I'll admit I've never seen some of these movies but I wrote them all down. Now that I know what to look for will know the challenge you gave us. This has to be my favorite post next to the last one. I bet you are just like you are here in person. I can only hope I can make it to your level. Thank you for all you do!

  6. I met you in NYC and you were so kind to so many people and I often go back to the posts about New York you wrote because I knew as I watched you you weren't just some writer or same old same old hateful ass. When you smile it makes people smile. You are an advocate and even with your accent and drawl, you were well just you. It's like hanging out with you each time I read your Blog. Honestly? there hasn't been one single post you've written that I didn't learn something from. Not one. You said you wanted to write a book or three and you know? I think you could. I will never forget trying to find you only to see you come strolling out of a homeless shelter. I swear sometimes you are an angel who doesn't think about her actions but just does them. Anywho, you are an awesome friend, advocate, good hearted and caring. That's what advocacy is about. You made me feel welcomed when I knew no one. Don't ever lose that. Much love from one of your favorite followers.

  7. You were always kind to me and leave no man behind. That is old school lady and damn fine old school. Screw those who don't like you. Personally I don't think half of of them are in it because their heart lies in a popularity contest. I shit you not I had a 20 year old wife advocating for ptsd and tbi but her husband never deployed. She said if I ever needed her to do something then call her. Had business cards and such. No kidding here! Now how the fuck is she supposed to help me if she has no idea???? You're right. You got to make it through hell, come back up with your middle finger and then tell me how you advocate. Maybe if she was an advocate for Peta or something I'd believe it. But this? No way in hell. You though lead with a team not as one. You ask for ideas and input. I was there when the unit asked you to stop talking to us about coming home and problems. But you didn't. Your office door was always open and you listened without being judgmental. You were an awesome teacher, an awesome frg leader and now look at you. My family will always be there for you. Thanks for all you do. We sure do miss you.

  8. I won't put my name here because we know same people but no one like you to be found. You are just you. Maybe somenof the "give me stardom " will read this and take the hint. I LOVE this post and even I chose the window! Laughed so hard! I learned a lot here and you made it fun! Love you girl!

  9. BraindamagedinfidelJuly 20, 2014 at 7:15 AM

    I like to watch plates shatter too. Ha! I think it would be great therapy! Hope the VA is taking notes. Maybe they need to hire you on for common sense and as advisor to deal with US's trash. You are smart and make it fun. I am going back to school and taking history which is hard for someone wih ptsd and tbi. Can you homeschool a 35 year old disabled vet? Friggin awesome post. Thank you.

  10. LOVING IT! I Learned a lot and am one who needs to start the war here at home. I try and volunteer but really am a fish out of water. I'll be honest. I learned that I need to battle my own in order to help someone else. I just don't know much. Speaking up was my weakness so borrowing my sons water pistol and learn to speak up! Awesome lessons from a true advocate. You may not know it but, to me you are a Yoda. God bless you!

  11. Michele and MichaelJuly 20, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    I swear you get better at writing each time you post. You are so smart and maybe that scares people. Intimidating because they take you face value as just some moo cow town girl. Erin Brokovich is one of my faves. She was a nobody and look at what she accomplished! You make me want to be a better person, better wife and you always make me feel like I am having a conversation but through writing! Oh and Code Blue? We've heard it too. I do always look to make sure hubby is right there! He says its prob when they push the button under their desk! Haha! I laughed, giggled but learned a LOT! Thank you!!!!

  12. You thrill me. I so wish we lived closer so we could hang out, play some dice and have a few beers with Doc. I bet you keep him on his toes. Good post with some different perspectives and ways to learn in a funny manner! Still your number one fan I don't care who says differently! I'll also take one with the leave no man behind than one who sticks their noses and books and shit. You know I gotl your back! Semper Fi

  13. I didn't like this blog. It was sort of dumb. I have been frg leader for years at many posts and not all of them come home fucked up. If they do, the Army takes care of it and treats them right at the VA. I've never been in a VA but the meb says its fine. So what you're saying is I can't advocate for others who are missing a couple of fingers because I haven't walked the mile? The Army gives everyone a national directory duh. I got the whole speaking up lesson which I thought was neat but really if I need help with a soldier I just send them to family center or report them to their CO. Not really my problem. I'm not ashamed to have business cards either. What have YOU done besides a little writing? If I don't like someone in my frg? We just make them quit. I tell them they just aren't needed. This post was about finding voice right? Epic failure totally.

  14. A-fucking men! You need to write a book Ma'am. Just found you on twitter through my son who got kicked to the curb after 3 deploys. That kim thing needs to be Jane Fonda but I read this and laughed my ass off! I won't call people out but there's a young poser chick in the Campbell area who could use a good choke hold while you kick her ass! Then she needs lessons. She has made some soldiers reduced from suicidal to homicidal just from dealing with her. I KNOW because I am a chaplain and do counseling. Following now just to see the next part! Thank you for yours and husbands service. Hang tough!

  15. I adore your writing. Its lessons but its like sitting with a friend over wine. Love it! Don't stop!

  16. Matthew and Stacey in COJuly 20, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    I'm a a male caregiver to wounded wife. Would it be weird to watch these movies? Breaking dishes. I may have done that! Lol I laughed out loud over this post and really learned a lot! More than in damn books. You're awesome!

  17. VA Underground HellJuly 20, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    I'm posting anonymous but work in the VA somewhere. I think this is fantastic! I laughed and I learned! Would you mind if I used the door and window scenario at my next case meeting just to challenge and then read out loud your answer? Brilliant! We could use all the help we can. Thank you!

  18. You are right on target and seriously USM is just this way in person as she writes. She makes you laugh so hard your sides hurt. Iam an advocate going on 13 yrs but she is spot on! Team work has gone to me me me. I get burned out, pissed off and want to strangle because yes there are some who still ask me how to fight their battles but have their fingers in so much they don't have a clue! It does make us all bad. I would USM address the young one with her duh! And Totally! I know you too well and know this will be blog. I got your back as you've always had mine. Fantastic post dear!

  19. @ Vanessa. Umm did you actually read this or are just that fucking stupid? Hell, I'd have you removed from any unit just because a) you're a dumbass. B) never been in a VA huh? C) WHO gave you the right to remove someone for not being needed in an FRG. You think MEB is peachy king? Good luck with that. You should be ashamed and should've paid more attention to this post. There is tha me complex she mentioned. ANY spouse or soldier/veteran should be ashamedbof what you just posted. Wow. I lost both legs, eaten up with tbi and Ptsd. Had you gone and told me this? I probably would've punched you in the damn face. I don't know USM but, her post hit home for me and family trying to have courage to speak upnon that fluffy, la la land you call MEB just to get my benefits. My wife is a fan here and this has helped her tremendously no matter the topic. I had to read because I was curious about the door vs window. If you read her, she makes sure you get it. I thought posers were the worst but you nutcase, have taken home the golden globe of what NOT to do. Mistress just wantes to say that we are and have been readers. Don't let her words of stupidity get you. Wow. Just wow. I'm getting pissed now. Sorry ass army must be taking everybody. Sorry if I offended you USM. Take care. Difference between you and USM? Class lady. Look that up.

  20. I KNOW USM personally. I've seen her speak up on things, look at both sides and consider things most we neglect. She spent several hours with guys who cried on her shoulder, people know her van because it's loaded down. She goes into the VA and comforts, is there to help when theybget scared. She has fed, donated, clothed even when things were tight. She stretches meals to feed extra vets who have no family. She gave me money without anything more than a request that I pay it forward. Our VA RESPECTS her. She is kind to little people because that's just who she is. Take a lesson. No she says she isn't important but I swear she is an angel with a halo on crooked. She is MY yoda. I got mistreated by an FRG leader just as sure as I know many have because its bitches like you who only choose the ones to follow. USM is very sick. She changed and saved my life and my family. She didn't kick us because she got no recognition. Matter a fact, she wouldn't even make the stupid ass MIL Spouse award because none of that counts. She doesn't like recognition or a big fuss. What counts is passing her in the VA and pushing a WWII stranger to his appt because no one was there. Or passing a waiting room and seeing her and the vets laughing. I know what I see and that's a soul who is here to bring those smiles or ease the fear of going into the VA for their first appt. So now you tell ME Vanessa what great wonders have you achieved? Hmmmm?

  21. USM was there when I considered inparient. She not only got me help but had me in with in two hours. She worked with vet center who physically came, drove and was so nice. I got off booze and cocaine and now helping other brothers. She saved me from myself. Stick THAT in your smug frg pipe and smoke it. She has more.courage and guts you'll never have. She is my family, my battle and though her blogs are funny, she's giving you the cast iron skillet loving that she gives allnof us. It means, tough, makes a mean meal and will give you a knock upside the head so you remember. I served and often regretted it but its people like her that sets standards you could learn from. Thank you USM. You're still my best battle.

  22. Ok so I REALLY learned a lot. I am thrilled I found this site and just because someone said "you have to read this!" Truth is I am painfully shy and my husband wants me to fight to get his benefits. It's hard and to whoever the lady above who used totally and Duh in her comment is an idiot. There is no fixing that kind of stupid honestly. I found this blog to be lengthy but almost conversational. Like with a friend just talking. I had to reread it just so I learned some more. I am going tomorrow to get me a water gun and start using the police! I read a lot of blogs but honestly? This is the first I have ever seen that was just down right honest and helpful. I understood what you are saying completely and my husband and I both chose window just as you predicted. I never really thought of that although husband says Kim really needs to disappear. LMAO I am going to have to go back and read past blogs. I learned so much just in this one and the one about burden that I was hooked immediately. Some blogs are ok but, we all have to laugh. I know everything isn't a joke and I am sure some of your posts aren't fun and jokes but teaching. I bet you were really one hell of a teacher! I found you once before on a story about a copper wall? I went on the same trip to NYC for the writing guild and all I could think about was wow, USM was here and this is what she saw! I saw the man in the picture and I was amazed at how many people just passed him by. That was a lesson in itself. No one is the perfect caregiver or have the perfect marriage but you are teaching as you are learning. You are very talented writer even if food poisoning is the only comparison you could think of. Yet, you were right. You do feel sick to your stomach and tired of waiting and getting screwed over. So going to take your advice and start with my Veteran first and keep reading. I can't wait til your next post comes out. I just signed up for email alerts. I hope your health is going to be ok and I will keep you in my prayers. God has a purpose for you USM. I am grateful I was led here.

  23. I laughed so hard that I thought I was going to pee on myself. Hysterical but yet, enlightening. I guessed window immediately but, got where you were going. It makes sense. Life throws us a ton doesn't it in the WW world? So you have to be prepared to bend, change when the wind changes and learn to have options. By the way? One of my favorite movies is FEDS and the Heat. I read this earlier and watched the Heat. I got it! Two people, so different but had to work together for the greater good. Turns out to be a long term friendship and both learned from each other. FEDS is my favorite so I am really going to watch it again because I remember the one who didn't study too well and one was weak yet, they overcame it and had options to a problem (the hostage scene). You could have given me a book on lessons and I don't think I would have gotten it because there was so much here that made sense with simple examples and definitely one to think about. It's been on my mind since this morning. So excited to see what else you'll say. I hope you get to feeling better soon. <3

  24. OmegaMoonStrykerJuly 20, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    I have always said you kicked ass. You never cease to amaze me. We ever meet, I got the first rounds on me and my family. Would love to meet you and your husband. I don't play well with others either. Must be a hard core thing. Keep kicking ass and to whoever the wife was who had the nerve to say what she said? I am sort of wanting to kick her ass but everyone has their opinions. I just find it humorous that her ass hasn't been handed back to her by the unit.. I would never allow some spouse treat others that way but she admitted it on a public blog like it was nothing. I am going to guess she says "when WE were wounded" and more than likely uses husbands rank as her own. Can't stand spouses who do that shit. Rock on your own way and don't change a thing. I don't impress easy and I sure as hell don't read chicks blogs but, I do because you help me understand what I put my family and wife through. Its really helped our marriage. I know you must struggle but the fact you admit your mistakes and your sense of humor? That's what makes me coming back. Keep your chin up and dammit! Get better soon.

  25. I am a Caregiver Coordinator and I can't tell you where. I wanted to let you know that this post was really helpful and one I am going to send out to my families. I have several who spend way too much time working for others and neglecting their duties but yet expect to stay on with the CG program. What I love the most was the speaking up as I get frustrated when I know spouses or veterans CAN get higher percentage but they just give up. I am learning a lot of new things from you like the last one on Burden? We have completely discarded that word. Period. I would like to send your window vs door lesson to our psych docs just so they can see how the other side thinks. Is that ok? I will send you my email separately and really? I could use a lot of help. Our jobs are so hard and you seem to follow procedure and in a nice way but firm when you need to be. I respect that and would go out of my way to help someone like you than some spouse or family screaming at me over something I have no clue what they are talking about. It makes me want to not go to work but I love the job. I truly do but burnout is high. I will keep reading and looked forward to your next lessons. Thank you.

  26. This was a fun way to learn and I got what you're saying! I've always loved your blog!

  27. I think you used some down to earth basic wisdom that anyone could relate to! Having the ability to lead is a gift. So lead on Ma'am. Semper FI

  28. Vanessa you are a tick on societys ass. I hope to God someone knows you so we can do all we can to get you away from our veterans! Surely you can't be this dumb but I want whatever you are sticking straight in thatt "the army and VA will take care of us" pipe so maybe then I can show my ass off too. And always Miss, you've shown your wisdom and don't let that wanna be bring you down.

  29. I just wanted to admit that I've gone from.A-Z and not really paid attention. I also called for help from the long term wives and never thought to give them credit. I learned a LOT in this blog and rather ashamed of myself. I guess I just wanted to be liked and looked at as someone who did something big. I will not be doing that anymore. Lessons to be learned and more to come. Thank you for turning the light on. Great post and blog!

  30. Window here too! That is so neat of a way of thinking on your toes and seeing what you're not thinking of at all. I learned so much! Thank you!

  31. Damn. I chose door. Why because I fig kims ass could be my cover but then when you made me stop and think about it, was like oh shit! This was a great blog with some serious thinking skills but in an easy way. Ya know I've always said if the VA would get out and into the world, and not go by books. Well theyd be better. I've been through 13 psychs and my wife and I learned more here than there. Why aren't you VA director? I'm a fellow combat medic and was pulled too though went over as other MOS. Fireman the army decided was good enough for medic slot. So why not someoe with damn good thinking skills and common sense be VA head? Might help some. To valley of the dolls chik who thinks she's got it fig out? It's people like you who hurt my wife so badly she never wants to be a part of anything. You will choke on your own advice one day. You are the type this post was written for. Damn. Just damn. Love u USM!

  32. Ok so check it out. Next time u got to give us soldiers or vets at least one weapon. Grenade, rocket launcher something. I went with door but window was what I kept going back to. So how did you know that I'd choose window? I chose that because yeah saw all friday 13 movies. Even jason steals freddies victim only to hack her up. So i chose window. Pretty damn smart for someone who thinks she is not a good advocate. Lady I'd have you as my aide any time any place. I'm undergoing more surgeries but emailing this to my wife. She gets nervous and terrified of making a "scene". Maybe this will help. Bless you for standing up.

  33. To dumbass FRGB goddess wanna be. Bet you talk about suicide prevention and plaster banners up all while humming thinking about the annual volunteer award you'll get. My husband and I SOUGHT HELP FROM THE ONE PERSON we thought could help us. Yes she gave me some papers on family resources, gave me the number for centerbon post. She was so "not my problem" either. Because she alerted CO about my husband being "weird " it showed us system failed. 22 suicides a day Vanessa. One of those turned out to be my husband. So do YOU REALLY WANT TO GO THERE AS NOT YOUR PROBLEM? How about visiting his parents or my four girls who don't have a father? Think before you speak for the love of Pete! At USM, love your blog. I never usually comment but am here trying to understand the time of hell before. You're very comfortable to read. Sorry if I was blowing up on your blog. She opened a can of worms and the neglect we got from someone just like her. Love your blog.

  34. I wanted to tell you I read this today. Made me smile. So while showering I started quietly put your hands up! Freeze! Then I yelled Police! I yelled it! I kept yelling until I was laughing! Worse? My husband came in and said wtf is going on? Are you watching Cops? TbI moment because I was in shower. He said what are you doing? I said finding my voice! He said did you lose it? Nope. Just wasn't being heard. I've always been quiet USM to point everyone tells me to speak up. I was LOUD for him to hear me in bathroom. He was shocked to hear me so loud! When done he asked me wth that was all about so I told him about this blog and how to find your voice. He said well that's awesome but tell her she needs to add handcuffs hubba hubba! Point is, I heard myseld in a firm manner and he heard me. He said neighbors are probably thinking we're sellling drugs and got busted! It works! I understand! Thank you so much. Now off to find one of these movies!

  35. Love this lesson. Well all of it. It was entertaining! I wished I had you as my history teacher! I made a c+! Thank you for writing. This is one of my fav blogs!

  36. You are funny as hell! What's with the weirdo on line one? Mrs. not my problem. Wtf? I thought any minute there is going to be a punchline. No. I do a lot of public speaking and you are right on target! Everyone thinks I do great but I am breaking out in hives, sweaty and in need of a drink. I will try this police thing because you're right! It's very difficult to hold attention esp during dinners because all you hear is silverwear and chewing. They clap but half probably didn't hear a word I said. Great post!

  37. I will never be able to watch cops or horror films now without thinking of this post. Its cool. Made me think and then realized what you were saying. Me! A guy who told his wife he'd never read a girls blog. Shhh. She won't know. Just keep it on downlow please. Thanks for all you do for us.

  38. Lot of lessons here! This is fantastic. Even with your earlier posts well, they were great too because it's always been a conversational style with you. Whether it be sad or like this one, they are always good and educational. Keep doing what you're doing!

  39. My kids think I've lost my mind BUT tried this two days in a row with a confident and firmer tone than before. It WORKS!!!! Now I want to go to the VA and let this woman roar!

  40. I get asked these questions too. Sometimes I am amazed the questions we get. I always am abrupt, short and give little explanation. I found this post to be direct, humorous, educating. in a creative way and lessons throughout the entire post. I realized too thay I possibly could be unapproachable but don't mean to be. Thank you for a great first starting points! I myself used a NERF gun. More tactical. Hahah!

  41. OMG!!! in what state is this Vanessa .. lady you are the worst, let me tell you a thing or this USM is my daughter in law and when she was FRG she was up early, took breakfast to the guys not just one but all, made sure their kids had coats and they all flocked to her as they had radar when she entered the building. I was there I saw it. Don't you dare say it is not your problem. Do you think standing behind your husbands rank would keep some of us from whipping your ass... don't go there with me. People are people, you cannot go thru life living in your own bubble "Oh look at me I'm FRG leader" put a feather in it lady. These men and women and their families have giving something of their life every single day, not just once a month. IIS NOT YOUR PROBLEM... REALLY .. REALLY. Take time go back read all the blogs posted this year.... READ ABSORB LIKE A SPONGE... you obviously have a pea for a brain if you don't care. How can you not ??????

  42. I read this the day you posted. This is fantastic and I understand what you're saying. If I can't stand up for myself or family and Veteran, how can I be the real gritted voice for others? I am looking to far outside that window you spoke of and not seeing what's really in front of me that needs to be dealt with. So I ordered Norma Rar off ebay and it came in. Was a little unsure of what you were trying to say but then it hit me!! She was opiniated and not really liked by her superiors, she made promotion as punishment and for that she lost respect from her co-workers. But when push came to shove when considering her options vs her job and family she started to back away. I've never cried so hard but when Norma stands on the table and holding that sign until everyone cut their machines off? She did it! I got what you were saying! Sometimes the choice between doing what's right might affect you personally and the sacrifices one must make to get there is difficult. She almost quit. I have been thrown in the WW world for four years and I've learned a lot from your blog than ANY of the books or other blogs. I also wanted to say USMs police thing WORKS! I've been practicing for a few days and had to deal with VA. My husband looked at me and said holy crap! You were firm but you got the point across that we weren't leaving without a referral. Me! The one who sits and fumes but never says anything! But I was heard and I have YOU to thank for it because I was playing cops in my mirror and practicing my poker face! We got the referral! I did it! So last night we watched Monument Men and didn't understand until the end. Husband loves war movies and it was good. But the end? I got it! They got NO credit for any of it! But that's not what they were doing it for. I am so excited just well over this whole blog! You have cried the same tears, fought the system and won and you don't want anything in return. I don't know who you are but please know there is a family in MO who is thankful for you and thank you for finally teaching us all. To the Vanessa lady? THIS IS AN ADVOCATE. You need to go back into the hole you were born in. Can't wait til the next one!!!!! Heather

  43. Aimee Adam-WalkerAugust 5, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    I really dug this post. It was funny and I hope in the end I can hang on to my sense of humor like you have. I too, chose window but totally got what you were saying! I have been practicing police mirror trick and I do feel more confidance! I think that helped me a lot! Great post as always! Keep it up!

  44. Hello,
    I am reaching out to you to help me and a small group of other wives who's husbands also suffer from TBI and PTSD, we would like to open ppl's eyes and bring more Awareness to this, I was hoping you maybe willing to join us, as you have the military prospective. you can reach me at Jenn Dawn on Facebook, Or you and thank you for this!


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