Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Air Force Adapted Sports in Las Vegas.

The U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior Program invited me out to Las Vegas this week to participate with and be a mentor to wounded, ill, and injured Airmen.

Part of the challenge with participating in these camps is that many of the Airmen are at different stages of recovery.

With both physical and mental illness, the feeling of competition can reignite the fire inside to succeed, and that is what we are trying to do ... light the fire in those that might be struggling to find the next step in life.

With approximately 60 athletes in attendance, from multiple states over the western half of the country, this introduction to adapted sports camp is the largest the Air Force has held since the inception of the wounded warrior program.

Juggling personalities at these camps can be a bit like herding cats, but when everyone comes together and gets in sync, that's when the magic happens.

Smiles from ear to ear, high fives, cheers and the energy of the participants shines brightly against the desert sun.

Adapted sports hold a power for certain people, and I am one of them.

The power is in that fire I mentioned earlier. The drive and determination that might have been lost due to an injury or illness can be rediscovered and reinvented with new challenges.

A greater sense of accomplishment is sometimes realized when a person can complete new tasks after injury.

When dealing with the future of our military veterans, no challenge should be too great, no obstacle should be considered impossible.

We are transitioning more and more veterans into modern society over the next few years than we have been in the previous 20. And with the advent of new technologies and new career paths, anyone involved with transition assistance has a massive task on their plates.

I hope I can personally contribute to the success of my fellow Airmen.

My fire has been lit.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

A simple message.

It's amazing how much a logo can say to a community.

Taking care of brothers and sisters that served our country faithfully is a priority for many of us.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fireworks shouldn't be bothering me anymore.

I am sitting here, in the dark, listening to the fireworks going off outside of the hotel here in Moody Gardens.


It's been awhile since I was around fireworks and the reverberations bouncing off of all the glass in this hotel bothers me.

PTSD can be managed and overcome. I fully believe that.

But one of the major challenges is harnessing all of the negative feelings associated with "triggers" and being able to remain calm.

I am calm enough to type, but this whole time the hair on the back of my neck is standing up and I have an overwhelming urge to throw my kit on and jump into a bird and run an air assault.

I need to back up a bit here to give everyone some pertinent info...

I am participating in the Wounded Warrior Project's Moody Gardens Family Weekend. We are bringing Wounded Warrior Alumni together to network, relax, and learn about the opportunities to better ourselves and our family members through the project.

It is always a wonderful thing when I have the opportunity to participate in WWP events. From the monthly skeet shoots, to the weekend gatherings, to the hard work of giving back to our fellow wounded warriors, the project has things for all interests.

I will be documenting my experience this weekend and attempt to share the benefits I receive as a WWP Alumni.

Tomorrow should be better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Veterans Administration and Congress

The Veterans Administration in Houston, Tx shares clinic and treatment options for Veterans in the Houston area. Also, the Honorable Congressman John Culberson gives us a perspective from the federal level as to what is being done and what is needed. Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Treating Post Traumatic Stress

Post traumatic stress is an emotional response that can have a detrimental effect on anyone's life. A contractor working for KBR in Iraq shares a video and a local doctor weighs in on therapeutic methods to effectively treat post traumatic stress. Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Fighting Post Traumatic Stress

In recent days, I had the pleasure of speaking with my friend Natalie Bomke, a morning news anchor with Fox 26 in Houston. She is passionate about sharing Veteran's stories, and I am so happy to be able to help in getting the word out for Veterans to take action early to prevent themselves from going down a road where suicide is even an option. See the whole story below. Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

HPD Crisis Intervention Response Team

The Houston Police Department has a Crisis Intervention Response Team, and is training officers on how to best deal with responding to Veterans in crisis within the local community. See the story on what they are doing in order to help.Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

10 Reflections of a Warrior.

The writing below does not belong to me. I cannot take any credit for its content. I can say however, that it is an enlightening reflection on how numerous veterans may feel in today's time of war. The piece below hits home for me. And I am a transitioned, business professional, out in the civilian market, working my behind off to do what is right for the veteran community. But the demons lurk and tug at heartstrings. They are still woven in the framework of my mind, body and soul. Training, good training, does not just go away because we take our uniforms off and return home to put on a suit and tie.
Sometimes, the training becomes our instinct, and in those moments, we are truly vulnerable.
1. He is addicted to war, although he loves you. War is horrible, but there is nothing like a life-and-death fight to make you feel truly alive. The adrenaline rush is tremendous, and can never be replaced. Succeeding in combat defines a warrior, places him in a brotherhood where he is always welcome and understood. The civilian world has its adrenaline junkies as well; just ask any retired firefighter, police officer, or emergency room staff if they miss it. 
2. Living for you is harder. It would be easy for him to die for you because he loves you. Living for you, which is what you actually want, is harder for him. It is even harder for him if you are smart and do not need him to rescue you, since rescuing is something he does really well. If you are very competent at many things, he may at times question if you need him at all. He may not see that you stay with him as a conscious choice.
3. "The training kicks in" means something very different to him. It is direct battle doctrine that when ambushed by a superior force, the correct response is "Apply maximum firepower and break contact." A warrior has to be able to respond to threat with minimal time pondering choices. While this is life-saving in combat, it is not helpful in the much slower-paced civilian world. A better rule in the civilian world would be to give a reaction proportionate to the provocation. Small provocation, small response (but this could get you killed on the battlefield). When the training becomes second nature, a warrior might take any adrenaline rush as a cue to "apply maximum firepower." This can become particularly unfortunate if someone starts to cry. Tears are unbearable to him; they create explosive emotions in him that can be difficult for him to control. Unfortunately, that can lead to a warrior responding to strong waves of guilt by applying more"maximum firepower" on friends, family, or unfortunate strangers. 
4. He is afraid to get attached to anyone because he has learned that the people you love get killed, and he cannot face that pain again. He may make an exception for his children (because they cannot divorce him), but that will be instinctual and he will probably not be able to explain his actions.
5. He knows the military exists for a reason. The sad fact is that a military exists ultimately to kill people and break things. This was true of our beloved "Greatest Generation" warriors of WWII, and it remains true to this day. Technically, your warrior may well be a killer, as are his friends. He may have a hard time seeing that this does not make him a murderer. Although they may look similar at first glance, he is a sheepdog protecting the herd, not a wolf trying to destroy it. The emotional side of killing in combat is complex. He may not know how to feel about what he's seen or done, and he may not expect his feelings to change over time. Warriors can experience moments of profound guilt, shame, and self-hatred. He may have experienced a momentary elation at "scoring one for the good guys," then been horrified that he celebrated killing a human being. He may view himself as a monster for having those emotions, or for having gotten used to killing because it happened often. I can personally recommend 'On Killing' by Dave Grossman. 
6. He's had to cultivate explosive anger in order to survive in combat. 
7. He may have been only nineteen when he first had to make a life and death decision for someone else. What kind of skills does a nineteen-year-old have to deal with that kind of responsibility? One of my veterans put it this way: "You want to know what frightening is? It's a nineteen-year-old boy who's had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It's a boy who, despite all the things he's been taught, knows that he likes it. It's a nineteen-year-old who's just lost a friend, and is angry and scared, and determined that some *%#& is gonna pay. To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling."
8. He may believe that he's the only one who feels this way; eventually he may realize that at least other combat vets understand. On some level, he doesn't want you to understand, because that would mean you had shared his most horrible experience, and he wants someone to remain innocent.
9. He doesn't understand that you have a mama bear inside of you, that probably any of us could kill in defense of someone if we needed to. Imagine your reaction if someone pointed a weapon at your child. Would it change your reaction if a child pointed a weapon at your child?
10. When you don't understand, he needs you to give him the benefit of the doubt. He needs you also to realize that his issues really aren't about you, although you may step in them sometimes. Truly, the last thing he wants is for you to become a casualty of his war.