Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wounded Warriors

As a fire family, we know that danger looms ever third day.  From structure fires to HIV and meningitis exposures.  It is part of our lives.  Sometimes it is a perceived danger and sometimes it is real.  Police families face the same thing, just 8-12 hours at a time.  But what about our military families, especially when their loved ones are on active duty in a combat zone.  At that point it is very real and ALL the frickin' day long, every day.  Try not letting that consume you, as you wait at home knowing that the knock on the door could be coming at any time, not just every third day.  

And when they come home, we think they are safe.  We think they are back and life can continue on as it was meant to be.  Our country learned its lesson after Vietnam.  We welcome our soldiers back with respect and pride and joy and love.  They are no longer spit on and ignored.  But is it happily ever after?

Is that enough??

What about when our warriors come home?  We have tended to their bodies, made sure their wounds have healed and that they have the proper medical attention. But what about the soul? Have we taken the time to tend to the body, but the soul... What can we do?
Battling Bare for PTSD

With the acknowledgement of PTSD as a REAL phenomenon, we see a very different picture.  We have groups - civilian and otherwise, that know this needs to be addressed.  Wives have seen it first hand and Battling Bare is working to bring attention and healing to issue of military PTSD.  BB offers support and resources to those who see these invisible scars of war. The images are beautiful and telling. They know that the atrocities of war change a person in ways those of at home can only try to imagine.  Killing a child because otherwise they will kill you leaves scars deeper than any mortar wound.  Sometimes we see the damage as soon as our military come home and other times not until something breaks inside of them for good.  The Wounded Warrior Project learned from the past and has worked to help our military come home and adjust to civilian life.  Their work is amazing.

But is it enough?

Our military take so much time and so many resources to prepare our forces for the skills they will need to try and come home to the flags waving and welcome home signs.  But do they do enough to re acclimate them to society.  To deal with flashbacks...with the caution needed to survive there, but is more like paranoia here...with the nightmares that force them to relive some of the most destructive moments of their lives.  Are we doing as much as we can?  Are we doing enough?  What else can we do?

This holiday season our country was rocked by a series of events that rocked us to our very core.  Firefighters being shot at as they report to an active fire.  Sandy Hook.  But one was MUCH closer to home.  One of our suburbs lost one of their own - a police officer was shot and killed right outside of a firehouse.  On Christmas Eve.

My immediate thoughts were for the family.  That damn knock on the door - on Christmas Eve.  The department was tight lipped about things, we knew something was not quite right.

As we prayed for the family of Officer Jennifer Sebena, we found out that she was killed by her husband.  A decorated marine.

How does that happen?

His testimony tells us how that happens.  Faith, love, prayer...all necessary for the healing to begin, but is it enough? 

As I was planning this post out, I had an odd comparison in my mind.  We train our soldiers, our military to be the mighty warrior.  But do we also train them to be bunny rabbits.  After having several bunnies we learned that there sometimes you can't tell when they are sick.  As a prey species, their instincts don't allow them to show vulnerabilities until it is too late.  It is a survival strategy.  Perhaps, is that they same for our heroes?  Especially after active combat when the hunter has also become the prey.

Gary Porter - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Please take a moment to say a prayer of healing.  For the family of  Officer Jennifer Sebena.  For the Wauwatosa Police Department.  For the family of her husband.  For our military - both at home and abroad.  And for her husband.  

I am, by no means, excusing this senseless act of violence, let me be clear on that.  BUT, he left us whole and came back broken.  Was enough done to help repair the damage?  There will always be scars - visible and unseen.  But we need to also tend to the gaping wounds, not just the ones that can be repaired with sutures. Was enough done for Benjamin Sebena?  I don't know what was done, but clearly he still wounds that need to be tended to.

If you love a soldier who has come home, but different, please know that there are resources to help you and your soldier.
Fearless Nation - 1-800-273-8255

Number I actually keep in my phone...just in case.

And for all my fellow firewives, please know you are not alone.  Perhaps you don't have a firewife right next door, as I am so blessed to have, but we are here.  Feel free to email me at anytime. 

You are never alone, neither is your firefighter, police officer or soldier.

Hug your muppets, let them know they are loved.  Kiss your firefighters before you send them off for the day.  Make sure they know you will be waiting for them when they get home.  Ready to get through whatever may come.

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