Tag Archives: veteran

Fighting the Pain and the V.A.


gulffires3  This has been a strange year for me so far. In some ways it was really great, but again my health has stopped me from enjoying life the way I want to. My daughter gave birth to my grandson, Colton James, two months ago and in April I published my first book. You would think I would be really happy, and I am trying, but pain is a real big problem and I keep having to go to the hospital.

Since I moved to Florida at the end of 2012 I have noticed that the V.A. here is just not really that together. I had my share of problems everywhere I have lived, but Florida is just really screwed up for the most part. I sgulffires2eem to have to fight with clerks, nurses, and doctors – sometimes on a daily basis. I should not have to do this. I don’t have a lot of fight left in me.

Today is a scary day. I am fighting to breath and fighting severe pain from my neck to my feet. gulffires1I just got a catheter taken out, but now I am again having to push hard to urinate and I seem to have to go every five minutes. I don’t sleep much these days; maybe three or four hours if I’m lucky. After a few days of this I pass out for about six hours and then I wake up with chest pain and trouble catching my breath.

In case you were wondering where I have been and why I haven’t been writing here I think the last paragraph sums it up. I also have been in the hospital for various serious issues six times this year. I just don’t really have a lot left to say sometimes. It’s hard to write when you feel like you’re dying.

I can’t help but wonder if this is maybe what the VA wants. I am a problem child to them. Every time I go to a doctor they are like, “Okay, tell me what your priorities are – I only have so much time.”

I understand thamean doc 2t other veterans are waiting and I don’t want to take up too much time, but this last time I asked for a longer appointment and the clerk assured me that the doc would take as long as I needed. Of course, he was wrong. So it would be much easier if I passed on than to take the time to actually deal with me. I also have a claim for service-connection so I am a big problem to them. They don’t want to pay me what I deserve and what my family does for sure because they are the ones who care for me and watch my back, they deserve it. My time is short, I know that, but they deserve something for taking care of me daily. My wife has health issues too, but yet she does everything for me and I am helpless to do anything about that.

This was taken on a day when I was having severe pain and nothing seemed to work. But I made it and I am just documenting it - not looking for anyone's pity. Do not pity me - just ask your congressman, your physicians, the VA or whoever is supposed to be working on trying to help vets with symptoms of Gulf War Illness. And I also want to say that I am not complaining. I am merely trying to make a point. I talk with so many vets that say they don't know where to turn and I am just trying to use myself as an example of a vet with the same problems. I have been told by certain individuals that I would rather not name because I don't want to implicate any one organization. Let's just say that certain people working at vet orgs have conflicting views with the way things are supposed to be according to the mandates or regulations or press blurbs or whatever you want to call them - the sec of the VA says that he wants to help us and that's great - but then I am told by certain people that it would take years to help me and that I am looking at conspiracy stuff online and getting excited about that. I have not dilusions about what happened to me. I was obviously exposed to something that made me unable to be employed at the age of 38. I would say that is a good reason to be inquiring why. I have a letter from the VA that states that they do take responsibility for the rare condition I have called Polymyalgia Rhematica or PMR. (look up on wikipedia) if you don't know what it is - it basically makes my joints hurt all the time especially when it is raining or snowing etc.. and on top of that I have arthritis, and fibromyalgia. I just want to be seen by specialists. I have an appt with a new doc next week and I am hopeful that I can be sent to places like Wash DC or JAX, Fl = there are supposed to be testing places for gulf war illness there. I took the test for GWI and then they wanted me to take it again for some reason. I can't afford to go to all these appt's. on the pension I get. The gas is too expensive and now with sequestration I can't get my travel pay! But I am trying to remain positive.Thanks for all the support and I know that you guys are going through it too - I am thinking of you first - I want you to know that. Of course, not all the time, this day I certainly wasnt, but my hope is that this blog might inspire more vets to try and get the help they need. More on my next post! God bless...
This was taken on a day when I was having severe pain and nothing seemed to work. But I made it and I am just documenting it – not looking for anyone’s pity. Do not pity me – just ask your congressman, your physicians, the VA or whoever is supposed to be working on trying to help vets with symptoms of Gulf War Illness. And I also want to say that I am not complaining. I am merely trying to make a point. I talk with so many vets that say they don’t know where to turn and I am just trying to use myself as an example of a vet with the same problems. I have been told by certain individuals that I would rather not name because I don’t want to implicate any one organization. Let’s just say that certain people working at vet orgs have conflicting views with the way things are supposed to be according to the mandates or regulations or press blurbs or whatever you want to call them – the sec of the VA says that he wants to help us and that’s great – but then I am told by certain people that it would take years to help me and that I am looking at conspiracy stuff online and getting excited about that. I have not dilusions about what happened to me. I was obviously exposed to something that made me unable to be employed at the age of 38. I would say that is a good reason to be inquiring why. I have a letter from the VA that states that they do take responsibility for the rare condition I have called Polymyalgia Rhematica or PMR. (look up on wikipedia) if you don’t know what it is – it basically makes my joints hurt all the time especially when it is raining or snowing etc.. and on top of that I have arthritis, and fibromyalgia. I just want to be seen by specialists. I have an appt with a new doc next week and I am hopeful that I can be sent to places like Wash DC or JAX, Fl = there are supposed to be testing places for gulf war illness there. I took the test for GWI and then they wanted me to take it again for some reason. I can’t afford to go to all these appt’s. on the pension I get. The gas is too expensive and now with sequestration I can’t get my travel pay! But I am trying to remain positive.Thanks for all the support and I know that you guys are going through it too – I am thinking of you first – I want you to know that. Of course, not all the time, this day I certainly wasnt, but my hope is that this blog might inspire more vets to try and get the help they need. More on my next post! God bless…

I recently tried to receive home health care and I got called by a nurse practitioner who had a problem with my request. She said I was too young. I agree, I said, but I didn’t choose to be sick. I have so many issues that I have to carry around a list of meds and conditions. She was so rude. She asked me a series of questions about whether or not I was in diapers and things like that. I think she missed her calling as a drill sergeant. She kept harping on my age and I have heard it before. Kids get cancer – why can’t I have gulf war illness? I was, after all, in the gulf war! If you go to the website for home health care at the Orlando VA they state that age does not matter. I guess she didn’t get the memo. Typical.

 

A Day in the Life


pain6It’s not easy to bare your soul and let complete strangers into your life. I realize that this blog isn’t terribly popular, but this is on here as long as I don’t delete it indefinitely and anyone can view it. That being said, I want to let you into my life and what I am going through. I also want to tell you that I know that some of you may read this and think I am whining, looking for attention, or maybe trying to get sympathy. That is definitely not the case. I cannot emphasize this enough. This blog has never been about me. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want help, but I am not a selfish person and I would like to think that my creative gifts are being used to help others, not just myself. If my blog can in any way help even one other veteran get the benefits they deserve than I should think GIV has accomplished something and would hope it continues.
painThere is a serious injustice in the world today. When I joined the military in 1988 I was only 20. I never gave any thought to the government’s control over me or the fact that when I was older and not able to fight that maybe I would be a discarded veteran at the mercy of a bureaucracy like the Veteran’s Affairs. As I have said before, when I say this I know there are many great workers, some of which are veterans themselves who are trying to do their best. I am referring to the people who run the VA at the top echelon. The decision makers and policy makers. The civilian-contracted corporations who provide cut-rate medicines, medical equipment, medical services, and preside over compensation exams and more. In short, the part that is broken and needs fixing. This is where my anger at the system lies. I also don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. I am still learning every day. I am constantly asking questions and learning from other veterans. Especially our Vietnam, Korean War and WWII vets who have been fighting for a better VA for years. Without them we might not even have a VA.
Now, as I said before, I am letting you into a glimpse of my life that I don’t usually tell many people about for several reasons. One of them is that most people have their own problems and don’t want to hear mine. Since you’re still here reading this I will assume you’re okay with it. Another one is that I believe I have been conditioned by doctors and society to not tell anyone everything because everyone is in such a hurry these days and maybe because they don’t know how to deal with me. In the five years I have been with VA health care I have not had a doctor who could take the time to listen to my medical problems and try and work with me the way a civilian doc would (as it used to be when I was making 50k a year as an Art Director and had very good insurance). They don’t want to hear everything and they certainly have not been interested in doing any of the things that are listed as advice on the VA website such as “work with your healthcare team.” Or ask your healthcare team this or that question. I have tried this and it rarely gets more than a strange look and a question about me wanting to see mental health because they think I’m crazy. I have been so confused about what the VA is thinking when they post these things that are on the website, give out pamphlets, and blog about all these lofty ideals and concepts that in reality just don’t seem to happen. (at least not for me anyway).
pain3I have talked with my doctor and nurses about how much pain I am in and they just keep telling me that there is no solution, but to take pain medications. I have no problem with that and I have come to the realization that I may have to take them the rest of my life due to the overwhelming amount of pain I am in. But, if there were a way that I could survive without them I am all for it. I am not some scumbag sitting around plotting ways to get high. I sometimes feel that is the way I am being viewed if the subject comes up and by what is being said to me. However, the doctor is the one who is responsible ultimately if they do not provide treatment alternatives. For example; I went to a rheumatologist about a month ago. I was told by my main provider in April that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Then at the rheumatologist she says no. I asked why my doctor said that and she did not know. I was confused. Apparently they have not or will not communicate about it. As always I am in awe of this lack of communication and the lack of concern that one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing on all levels of the VA. So next the rheumatologist says that she wants to know what is wrong with me. So I go over all the many problems I am dealing with on a regular daily basis and she tells me to stop halfway through – as usual not even my doctors want to pain4actually hear it all. (I guess I complain too much. But they asked, right? So I told them.) Next she says some stuff about how my x-rays showed I have extensive arthritis throughout my body. She said the only way to deal with it is pain medications. She offered to give me a shot of cortisone. (which rarely has worked in the past). She asked me where I wanted it and I said I would like to try my knees because they hurt bad a lot of the time, especially at night. She did it and no help. She told me to call in a few months and set up another appointment to have another cortisone shot. I was so confused about this lack of help that I just sat there looking at her until she told me to leave. This was the appointment I had been looking forward to for months and no help. The other thing that bothered me about the visit was I asked about arthritis medicines and she said, “Like what?” I just throw my hands up. I know there are arthritis medicines, but I just asked and she didn’t know or didn’t want to talk about them or god knows what this doctor is saying or doing and that’s pretty much where I stand with every single doctor I have ever met at the VA. I have never felt like they have my best interest in mind or they could care less whether or I live or die as long as they keep their job. This just makes me want to give up, but I won’t. I will keep on fighting until hopefully some day I may be able to either see a doctor outside the V.A. or I can say that I am actually happy with the treatment I receive at the Veteran’s Affairs.
pain5Perhaps it’s not the VA. I don’t know. Maybe the entire medical establishment is in a “who gives a shit” state-of-mind due to recent changes with Obamacare and Malpractice suits, rampant drug abuse… Whatever the problem is I guess it’s a terrible time to have serious medical problems! (what was I thinking by going to war!) Before I had all these issues I felt bad for people like me, but I could never truly understand how badly it affects your every day life until it actually happened to me. It affects every asset you have – your weight, your body, your mind, your spirit, your values – it takes all you got to get through it and the movie can only end badly.
My life is depressing and I try to keep upbeat, because I have a family. I am a man who has always been tough and tried to do my best to be a good dad and husband. My wife had a rough life. She grew up in a small town in Florida with not much money and she was abused by her first husband and so were her two boys. When I first met her I was still in the service. I was stationed in the small town she grew up in. She had three kids when I met her and she dreamed of meeting somebody some day. I am glad I could make that dream come true. I had been drinking heavily when I met her and I promised here I would stop and I did. I’ve been sober for 20 years aside from when my Dad died – I raised a few for him. I had no problem raising her kids as my own and that’s what we did. The kids are all grown up now, my daughter, the youngest – just turned 18.
pain7Now, I am 45 and every day seems worse than the last. I am going to start with the last weekend. It’s Sunday afternoon to you, but in reality to me it’s more like Sunday morning. I don’t always have the ability to sleep so I never know from day to day what my schedule will be. Let’s start with Saturday. I started having severe pain in the afternoon. I hadn’t slept more than four hours the night before and maybe a couple of ten minute cat naps here and there. The severe pain is about an 8 on the scale to start with and gradually works it way up to a 10 on that pain scale the docs love so much. If I could go higher it would go up to more like a 20. (keep in mind this is with two different types of painkillers.) Sometimes it comes down to about a 4 or 5 at the lowest, but that doesn’t usually last long.
pain8The pain starts usually in my thighs. It feels as though a piano wire is being wrapped around the meat of my thighs. I am used to it happening every day so I try to ignore it. I do whatever I can to keep my mind off of it. I read, I listen to music, watch a movie, try to talk to my wife or daughter, I surf the internet or I write. I mostly write. I am trying to finish a book I am writing and I work on this blog. Anything to not have to think about the pain.
pain9The pain in my lower back is always there. It hardly ever completely goes away. I do stretching exercises twice a day to try and keep it loose. This has helped my posture and maybe in some other areas, but the pain has not gone away. I also have stretching exercises I just started for my shoulders. (all my joints are in pain every day due to fibromyalgia, arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica). The pain in my back gets worse and worse as I move around. I don’t work (disabled) so this is just daily movement to try and make meals, grooming, dressing, etc… and I try my best to try and do slow purposeful movements as I was advised in physical therapy – keeping in mind how I used my body. I was advised to do certain things that may help you if you have this problem – I have been just recently buttoning up shirts ahead of time before putting them on or putting on a belt ahead of time in pants etc.. that way I don’t have to reach, although I mostly where loose fitting, easy to put on clothes.
pain10I am usually able to handle the pain during the afternoon because I have been living with it for years. I used to work with it and I tried my best to ignore it when I was younger. However, when I got older it just seemed to beat me down. I have a high tolerance for pain and I don’t usually talk about it so this is hard to write.
On top of the pain I fight the mental problems which I think is the hardest thing. I am fighting depression, anxiety, and a mood disorder. I wonder why? I don’t like crowds, I don’t always do well talking with others and I get pissed sometimes – so sue me. I don’t know who wouldn’t be pissed if they had to live in pain, couldn’t work, and was broke all the time. I live off a VA pension and I have been waiting five years to try and get the service-connection I know I deserve that would give me twice the amount of money I am getting now. If you don’t like what I am saying or you don’t think I have a right to complain I would be happy to trade places with any of you who are not as sick as me and have a job any day of the week with no questions asked. Ever see the movie with Eddie Murphy – Trading Places?
Moving on, about dinnertime, I am getting the full pain gamut that I havpain11e daily. My guess is because the temperature is dropping. I think arthritis is a lot of my problem because temp. changes are a big factor in my pain level. I start getting severe, sharp pain in my knees, I feel like there’s pins and needles in the top of my feet, and my neck and shoulders hurt. During this time I am also dealing with some other problems. I have chronic diarrhea or IBS. I have a constant ringing in my ears or tinnitus – this is just in the last few months. (no cure for that). As the night goes on the hissing in my ears also seems to gradually get worse. I have no idea why. I also have stomach cramps up under my left rib cage and I don’t know why that is either. I have told doctors and they don’t know either. Of course they also haven’t offered to try and find out why by testing.
pain12So I am dealing with all this pain and I am always tired, but I can’t sleep as much as I may try. Saturday night I tried to relax because I hadn’t gotten much sleep for a while. Four hours is not much, but that’s better than nothing which also happens. I try and relax and watch a movie or listen to music. I played a video game on my PS2. I tried laying down about 10:00 PM. I fixed up my pillows so that I am sitting up because I have sleep apnea and I am afraid that since I can’t handle sleeping with the mask on that I might die in my sleep if I lay flat. The reality is that I don’t think it matters. I wake up gasping for air, my heart beating really fast and I am always constantly thirsty and tired. I still can’t sleep after 20 minutes.
So I try and watch something on television. There’s not much on basic cable after 10pm. I can’t afford to buy more channels or rent movies or any of the extras that most people enjoy. My friends ask me if I used the DV-R to record a show and I say I have never been able to afford one. This is life without a job. I don’t have HBO, I don’t have any extras – I just am lucky to have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. Three years ago I was homeless. I am thankful for what I have, but on nights like last night it would’ve been nice to have something to keep my mind occupied. But I try and get into some old black and white movie.
pain13By 2 AM I am going crazy. I try listening to an audio book, but I can’t concentrate. My wife and I don’t sleep in the same room. She is sick too. She gets SSI and she has daily stomach problems to deal with thanks to a botched ulcer surgery. I am up most of the time anyways, but she doesn’t like our mattress. We haven’t been healthy enough to make love in years either so it’s not that big of a deal. She is asleep sort of. I hear her get up often. We both don’t sleep anywhere as much as we used to. I lay in my bed and notice that the ongoing sea of crickets chirping in my ears has gotten worse. I am really tired now. I can’t stand it. The pain makes it so that I can’t possibly get comfortable. I have taken the daily dosage of pain medication so I have no outlet there. I decide that I have no choice but to take a sleeping pill. They’re prescription, but when I take them I tend to sleep so heavily that I am seriously afraid of dying in my sleep due to the sleep apnea which causes heart attacks and strokes. It’s a catch-22, but I try and avoid them when I can. I would hate for my family to find me dead.
pain14I woke up this afternoon at noon. I slept from 5:30 AM to noon. (six and a half hours). This is about as much as I can sleep. This is a typical cycle for me. I average about 4-5 hours of sleep all week and then by the weekend my body is craving sleep so much that I have to take a sleeping pill and get an extra hour. I don’t know why – I also have chronic fatigue syndrome. This makes me tired all the time.
So now it’s about 7 PM, Sunday evening and the whole vicious circle continues. Another day and more pain, another restless night, and more wondering how it’s all going to end if ever.
I want to mention that I also have some other problems I deal with daily. They may be considered minor things, but in the scheme of things when you are dealing with a lot of medical issues these things certainly can hinder everything else. I have to take my blood pressure every day for hypertension. Not a big thing for me. I take a couple of meds for this too. My BP is usually higher when in pain. I also have elevated white blood cell count. I have no spleen so I am told this is normal, but I have heard that many veterans who were in the gulf have this. It concerns me, but I doubt it concerns anyone else. When I wake up in the morning my body is asleep. My legs, my hands, my arms all have to be woke up – they’re cold. My hands are curled up in a ball. I have carpal tunnel syndrome too. (not a big deal considering the other things.) I have trouble walking as well and walk with a walker. I can’t walk very far before very severe pain sets in and I have to rest. I have trouble sitting or laying down for a long time and have to stand or move around a little bit so I am up and down all the time.
pain15I also have a serious problem with bright lights and sunlight. I don’t like it. It gives me headaches. I also deal with severe headaches that can come on at any time and just are the kind of headaches that knock you on your ass.
In addition, I can’t stand the smell of chemicals such as common household cleaners, perfume or cologne, or bleach or anything like that. I start to cough and sneeze and get a headache from that. I have asthma and COPD and take several inhalers daily so I’m guessing it’s this or some sort of effect from some sort of exposure. I may be leaving things out even because I never know what’s next for me. I don’t like it and I don’t want it, but the fact is that I seem to be having a lot of compounding problems for the last five years and I never know what’s coming next. Throw the flu or a cold in the mix and I am wiped out for days.
pain16Well, this is a day in the life for me. I have been brutally honest and I know that if you are still reading this and you don’t know have these type of problems it may be hard to understand. You may be thinking that I am complaining or that I’m not thinking about the people that are worse than me. That’s not true at all. Those thoughts keep me going all the time. I know that it could always be worse and it most likely will. I am documenting my experiences as a veteran of the Gulf War. I have Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome –- whatever you want to call it and all I know is that some day it will be the end of me and none of that will matter. Perhaps it will matter to future generations and some day we will stop subjecting our kids to these horrific mistakes that could have been avoided. Recently there has been a lot of testing done and it looks like we are closer to getting better treatment possibly — it only took 23 years to prove it’s not psychological. 75,000 people could have told you that a long time ago.

HARTMAN: World War II veteran learns to read


WTVR.com

[ooyala code=”tsbWM0YjoamCLlxE6joRzLg2rJqxdy27″ player_id=”6c21d43b06ee4460a29e40d9542c86ae”]

By Steve Hartman

COOKSON, Okla. (CBS) – Inside a single-wide in a Cookson, Oklahoma — a tortured soul lives alone. Ed Bray, 90,  served in World War II.  He was at Normandy on D-Day. He earned two purple hearts and more than a dozen other medals.  But to this day, he still can’t even read what they’re for — not because it’s too painful – but because he simply can’t read.

“The toughest thing that ever happened to me in my life was not being able to read,” Bray said. “I’ve covered this up for 80 years.  Nobody in this town knows I can’t read.”

Until he retired in 1981, Ed worked a civilian job at an Air Force base refueling planes.  A coworker helped him with forms and what not.   At home his wife covered for him for 62 years.  She died in 2009.  Today, Ed…

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Bill McClellan; a Veteran with No Pride Spreads Poisonous Ideas


burial

It’s really sad what small newspapers who never really had a huge circulation to begin with will print for attention these days. After all, bad press is better than no press at all. Somehow I came across an article by a writer named Bill McClellan at the St. Louis Dispatch here: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/bill-mcclellan/mcclellan-one-last-call-to-service-end-military-funeral-honors/article_8495bfa5-33b5-5fd0-bfd9-9415fde97e13.html

burial2In this article McClellan suggests that because not all veterans are heroes we should save the money of veteran’s organizations and state’s money and only give a military funeral to those who received a purple heart or some other combat medal. I cannot stress how much this outdated and clearly wrong statement sickens me. I cannot believe that the newspaper’s editors and publisher could be this desperate for attention. And it did get a lot of attention from vets and veteran organizations all over the country. He even got a spot on TV.
burial3I understand that as Americans we have the right to freedom of the press, but the fact that McClellan himself is a Vietnam veteran and he made this statement is even more appalling. Many of us are uncomfortable when being called heroes, but I think that joining the largest and one of the most fierce fighting forces in the world has to count for something.
burial4Obviously McClellan wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings much while in the military, but I was. After all, I was in for six years on active duty. The point is that it might not seem heroic to some people to get up every day and do my job as a cook, but consider what would happen if all the cooks on my ship, the USNS Mercy TAH-19, decided that we should all go AWOL in the Philippines and not return to the ship. The next morning about 1,200 crew members would wake up and have no breakfast. They would wake up very hungry, wanting at the very least a cup of coffee and there would be nothing. The coffee would not be hot and filling the messdecks with that pleasant java aroma. There would be no eggs to order, no sausage or bacon, nothing. That might be okay for breakfast, although I’m sure the skipper would not settle for no coffee on his ship, but lets say for Bill’s sake there’s no coffee or breakfast in the galley because all the cooks like me decided we were not heroes and therefore nobody needed us and we’re all going home.
navy10Now it’s lunch time and the entire ship is hard at work and salivating for lunch. They are certain that whatever SNAFU caused the breakfast incident has to be cleared up because after all – they had never had it happen on their ship, and most likely never in the history of the Navy. They shuffle in from the laundry room after pressing the shirts and slacks, from the flight deck where they were running around trying to direct traffic for the helicopter pilots bringing wounded to the ship, from the operating rooms where they are busy repairing soldiers so that they may walk again or not, from the bridge where they are busy running the ship (you know, all those minimal non-heroic jobs that people do for no apparent reason) and what’s this…nobody in the galley still? Not even the smell of meat cooking or vegetables steaming, not a single stitch of food.
gw17Chaos rings out across the ship. Senior officers and enlisted men are busy trying to calm the sailors down, but they are hungry too and confused. First there is a run on the ship’s store. The formal line down the hallway to try and get sodas and potato chips was orderly, but now there is a wave of guys trying to fight there way in and grab whatever they can. The storekeeper is trying to shut the gate, but is punched and wrestled to the ground where is trampled to death minutes later by a stampede of combat boots.
An hour later the ship is on fire and most of the crew has escaped to the shore to find a restaurant. Some are hoping to escape justice for the various crimes they committed. Several are transported to the operating room or trauma departments for treatment, six lay dead after various altercations. The Captain and the Supply Officer are busy trying to find out where there cooks went and working on getting people to make sandwiches. The ship was supposed to pull out that day and attend to seriously wounded men on the front near Kuwait, but because of this incident they are unable to make it and therefore several soldiers die in Kuwait and millions of dollars are lost due to this terrible incident.
burial6The President is notified of a terrible outbreak of violence on a hospital ship named the Mercy and instantly the story goes viral. All the major networks are trying to figure out what happened. After the smoke clears the non-heroes of the ship go on talk shows and they can explain how a guy named Bill McClellan said they were not heroes because they had not been shot and when they died their families would not even be able to drape a flag on their coffins, let alone have a bugle player or twenty-one gun salute. The honored tradition to honor ALL those who served in the American military.
My suggestion to Mr. McClellan is that if you don’t want military honors at your funeral then don’t tell people you’re a veteran at all. In fact, I would suggest that nobody go to his funeral at all and that nothing special at all be done that day except an old man gets buried in a box and that will be that for his poisonous ideas.

Been Down a While, But I Dragged my Ass Back Up!


Hey guys, I probably should be in a bad mood today, but I’m trying a whole new approach. I would like to announce that as of about three and a half weeks ago I quit smoking! I am off the patch and no longer addicted to nicotine!! I am feeling much better respiratory wise. I am still stressed and I’ve been eating a little more than I should, but I have been trying to walk.
I don’t know if I mentioned my new dog Max. I don’t think so. He is the cutest little guy. I will post a pic of him. He’s a pup and he won’t get too big. He’s a fox terrier and a chiwawa mix. He’s really obedient and he only ways about four pounds if that. But he’s a sprite little guy. He chases balls and then runs with them in his mouth and hide’s in the shade of our front yard. He is my best bud.
I have’nt posted for a while for several reasons. THe first was my computer crashed and I lost all my old data. But at least I still had all the web passwords saved etc.. so it was not too hard to come back, but you know how it is – you have it the way you like it and then boom – it just crashes. I used to use Macs and I’m trying to learn how to fix PC’s, but it’s harder.
Then my mother-in-law, Barbara, is more of just a mom to me. We call her Ma. She calls me Tater because I lover her fried taters in oil in an old iron skillet. She’s a true Florida cracker and she will tell you if you mess with her you will not be welcome no more at her house! She told me if I ever harmed a hair on her daughter’s head that she would do some stuff to me that I’m sure you can imagine! But I would never. I was raised by a very kind man and that’s something else I will bring up in a minute. But my wife and daughter, Cathy and Ashley, have been going to visit her in the hospital for about the last month. She had an annerism in her thigh and it burts in the operation. We were praying for her and she came through ok. She had a tube in her throat at first and her hands were tied down. She was so miserable that she spit that sucker out! She’s tough as nails. I am so glad that she made it through this whole hospital ordeal. There was a lot more to the story, but you get the point – she came close to leaving us and she’s too young! She’s only in her late 60’s. What’s so great about her is that she has the same name as my mom who passed of ovarian cancer when I was seventeen and she survived ovarian cancer when she was pregnant with my wife. It’s very odd, they used Cobalt to keep it contained and it saved her life. I wish they’d have done the same for my mom! But good news is she get’s out tomorrow – Easter Sunday! What a great blessing. Easter and a saved life. The lord truly does work in mysterious ways.
I also was taking some personal time to read some books and I got some things from my Dad who passed in 2011. God it doesn’t seem like that long ago. Cathy’s Dad passed about 10 years ago now too and I miss him very much too. His name was James Lightfoot – he was a CHerokee indian and he was not very educated but he was very smart. I never even knew until after his death that he had not completed more than a few years of school. I promised him on my death bed that I would take care of his only daughter, his princess, and his grand kids who he loved so much. There nicknames are: Robert or Bobby – but he called him Jumpin’ Jack. And he’s the oldest. And then there’s J.J. – He’s nicknamed JJ Gaborshker. I know it sounds funny – that’s what’s so great about it. And he’s the middle kid. He just got engaged to a wonderful girl from Wisconsin. And then there’s our little girl who is not so little anymore and sometimes I forget – Ashley Lightfoot aka – Spider was her nickname. She had this bouncy thing that we used to put her in and she would giggle like crazy when she was a toddler and so he called her spider because she was bouncing around like one on the ceiling. She’s a country girl too, born and bred in Florida. But they also lived up north where I grew up. But we are all rednecks. We are your basic American working class family. Of course, I tried to be white collar for several years and probably still have a little of both sides in me. I had a great education and that leads me to the next reason for my pause in writing…
I received a package from my mother-in-law with pictures from my childhood, my dad, my family and me and it was just amazing! Then my sister sent me a copy of my dad’s memoirs and I was so overwhelmed that I read it cover to cover and I have an idea for a book. I want to know what you guys think. He wrote the memoirs as “Looking Back” and it was really interesting to get a glimpse into my dad’s childhood in the 30’s and 40’s in the town I grew up in that has not changed much since I was a kid. I thought about adding my experiences as a kid to it and some history and calling it “Looking Back and Paying it Forward” and then a subtitle of “A Glimpse of Small Town America” or something like that and then co-authoring it with my dad’s writing and mine mixed in together. If anyone has any publishing connections let me know. I do too, but I was thinking of self-publishing and I know that a lot of the people that stil live in the town I grew up in – Barrington, Illinois, would be interested in this.
Anyways, back to the subject of Gulf War Illness. I have some new information to share in my next post. I am preparing a new post about a book I got called “Claim Denied” – “How to Appeal a VA Denial of Benefits” and so far what I have read is very helpful and great for resources etc.. and I have been watching a lot of C-Span and it’s amazing what kind of advances have just happened overnight it seems. I can’t believe they actually cured H.I.V. and they also are coming very close to curing certain kinds of cancer! God bless these amazing foundations and the people who help them. There are some amazing philanthropists who just give billions of dollars to research. The names are too many and god be with us all because there are also some very frustrating things going on.
For example – I have not been able to get travel pay from January yet. I called yesterday and they said, “Hang in there – it’s because of the sequestration. We have no idea when it will come.” I cannot afford to drive an hour to the doctor about four or five times a month on average and not be re-imbursed for it. This is the first time I have even asked for it. I never used it in Wisconsin because the clinic was only about fifteen minutes from my home. I didn’t dare ask because I try not to burden the VA with too many expenses, but I just am confused about why they can’t just re-imburse us right away like they used too. Now I hear on the news that they passed a bill or law or something with the EPA regulating gas that will hike up the price even higher.
But, hey, what can I do? I’m just a regular guy with the same problems as most of you. But stay tuned because I hope that in my next posts I can do some good for you guys. For now I am going to try and relax and enjoy the rest of my weekend. I felll this morning trying to open my driveway gate. My dog got out and a neighbor handed him to me over the gate and then I noticed the mail came, went to open the gate and it fell off and me with it. I got bruised and skinned up again but I will live. I’m hurting, and all that but ignoring it. Until next time, friends, I hope that you and yours have a wonderful Easter and god bless America!