Friday, December 26, 2014

2015: The Year of the Veterans

Today is the day. I Create tomorrow’s memories   and live yesterday’s lessons.

The end of a year means a blank calendar ahead.  Today I consider new beginnings. I’ll welcome my new year with excitement and adventure. Although the IEDs of fear and worry line the roadside of my journey, I am not one to let them stop me. I will trust this year’s journey will be an honorable one, as was last year’s. I trust  the memories I bring with me into the new year, as well as  the lessons learned from yesterday,  will be of benefit to those  I meet along the way,  who are alone with theirs.

The most valuable gift I have to give is my experience, wrapped in strength, and hope. Even in the depths of despair, when there is nothing else, we all have our experiences. Through my writing I hope to pay forward, the compassion, empathy and love I’ve received during my journey through life.

 Because of my charmed life of freedom, made possible by the efforts of those who have fought to defend it,  I want 2015 to be The Year of the Veterans. We are needlessly losing 22 our men and women per day to suicide.


No man is an island, entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if the promontory were,
As well as if the manor of thy friends, or of thine own were;
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.           
 John Donne
When I wrote MASADA’S MARINE last year, I spent hours of research, and now, I can no longer feign ignorance to this country’s embarrassing issue of ignoring  this invisible disease. I would like you, too, to join me in my crusade. In order to introduce  you and your friends to my cause, I am recommending a reading list.
Of course, my book, MASADA'S MARINE is top of my list because it illustrates the dynamics of PTSD and how service dogs are combating this invisible disease.
Masada and her Marine were born two decades and two thousand miles apart, and both aspired to do be the best that they could be. But first, they had to meet.
Masada began her journey in Illinois as a bumbling golden retriever puppy and emerged twenty months later as a proud, confident American Service Dog, ready and able to protect and preserve the life of Iraq veteran, Alex March, USMC.
Alex’s journey began in California as an ambitious boy who only dreamed of protecting and preserving life for the Corps, his country and his family. Twenty years later, he emerged as one of “a few good men,” and served with honor, courage and commitment …until he came home….
“An unseen attacker, camouflaged in the crowd, cooled its heels like a terrorist. It waited to follow Alex and his family home. How could he have known what lurked on the sidelines? Another war, an invisible war, he knew nothing about and had not been trained to fight.”
Follow Iraq veteran, Alex March, USMC and his American Service Dog, Masada, who rescues the wounded warrior, as they become the best they can be.
The two books below are only two of many included in my research of Masada’s Marine. I guarantee you will join my campaign after reading these books.
The wars of the past decade have been covered by brave and talented reporters, but none has reckoned with the psychology of these wars as intimately as the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel. For The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel embedded with the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion during the infamous “surge,” a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed them all forever. In Finkel’s hands, readers can feel what these young men were experiencing, and his harrowing story instantly became a classic in the literature of modern war.
     In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel has done something even more extraordinary. Once again, he has embedded with some of the men of the 2-16—but this time he has done it at home, here in the States, after their deployments have ended. He is with them in their most intimate, painful, and hopeful moments as they try to recover, and in doing so, he creates an indelible, essential portrait of what life after war is like—not just for these soldiers, but for their wives, widows, children, and friends, and for the professionals who are truly trying, and to a great degree failing, to undo the damage that has been done.
     The story Finkel tells is mesmerizing, impossible to put down. With his unparalleled ability to report a story, he climbs into the hearts and minds of those he writes about. Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding, and it offers a more complete picture than we have ever had of these two essential questions: When we ask young men and women to go to war, what are we asking of them? And when they return, what are we thanking them for?
Anne Freund, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been practicing since 1989. She graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor's in Psychology and from the University of Florida with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Freund completed her internship at the VA in Bay Pines, FL. She has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2005. Prior to that she worked with law enforcement and first responders as part of a Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing Team. Dr. Freund began conducting PTSD support groups in 2005, shortly after arriving at the VA. She has had specialized training in PTSD at the National Center for PTSD in Menlo Park, CA and at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Dr Freund is a member of the American Psychological Association, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, International Society for Traumatic Stress, the European Society for Stress Studies, and the Association of V.A. Psychologist Leaders. Dr. Freund was the keynote speaker at the annual POW/MIA Heroes Dinner sponsored by Rolling Thunder in 2011.
I am sure after reading these books you will join in the effort to pass this bill: S. 2182 VETERANS SUICIDE BILL