Questions to Ponder Part 2

This is Part 2 of Questions to Ponder. As i said yesterday…

I consider myself to be a reasonable person. When it comes to hot button topics and political differences of opinion, I like to look at both sides of the discussion, add in a little common sense, then come to a reasonable conclusion. After watching numerous debates between pundits on the news, I have to admit that I don’t understand how some people think.

Using some wisdom I’ve acquired, I have some questions and/or thoughts about some hot button topics that I’d like you, the reader, to ponder. I simply ask that you have an open mind as you read because if we are to discuss these hot button topics we need to look at both sides of the debate. If you don’t want to read another point of view, feel free to skip reading this, just know that we can never stop fighting and find common ground as long as we are closed minded steeple following the crowd.

Gun Control

We’re all well aware of recent mass shootings in the country, especially in schools. I agree 100% that we need to make some changes. However, in each tragedy, weren’t there laws already in place that could’ve prevented these people from getting a gun? Thinking of recent mass shootings and laws that are currently on the books, where did the system fail?

“Guns kill people.” This statement isn’t entirely true. By itself, a gun sitting on a table is a hunk of harmless metal. So is a knife and a car. When any one of them is put in a human’s hands, they become tools capable of killing a human or an animal. Wasn’t there an incident in 2017 when a terrorist ran over some people with his car then got out and started stabbing people?

Here are a couple of statistics. Every day people are killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents. Drunk driving is responsible for 28 deaths every day and texting while driving causes roughly 300,000 accidents every year. And, reportedly more than four times as many people are stabbed to death than killed with rifles of any kind.

Where are the chants or protesting to have cars and knives banned?

Something else that puzzles me. Anytime there’s a mass shooting, law abiding gun owners are blamed and punished first. How did a law abiding gun owner cause the mass shooting? If your response is that they didn’t cause it, then why are they blamed? How do you feel when you’re blamed and punished for something you didn’t do? I can think of numerous shootings where others were clearly to blame. Pertinent mental health concerns weren’t reported and addressed, concerned citizens reported their concerns to the proper authorities but the authorities did nothing, or someone else who could pass a background check purchased the gun for the shooter who couldn’t pass the check. Perhaps the most egregious incident was when armed personnel were outside setting a perimeter while the gunman was inside still killing people. If you had a gun and people were being killed, wouldn’t you confront the gunman and save people?

Why not blame the person that picked that hunk of harmless metal and turned it into a tool for killing others? Why are they blameless?

Finally, after you create all of these new laws, will criminal abide by these laws? If a criminal REALLY want a gun, will they not do anything to get one? Take a look at cities like Chicago, Detroit, St Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Buffalo. Some of these cities have some of the strictest gun laws and they’ve got some of the worst violence in the country. These guns aren’t licensed, aren’t permitted, there are no background checks and they are never purchased legally.

The gun control debate wouldn’t be complete without discussing school shootings. Aside from my previous thoughts on obtaining a gun, there are other things we can do to prevent these from happening. Perhaps the best idea I’ve heard is to have trained armed people in the school. This can be retired law enforcement and/or retired military veterans because they are highly trained to use firearms. If teachers and school administrators want to be armed, great. They can be trained and licensed too.

Entertainers, politicians and other famous people are protected by armed guards, right? Airports, train stations and some stores are protected by armed guards, right? Why are we not protecting the most precious people in our lives with armed guards?

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is true. Who can stop a bad guy with a gun? Someone using words to talk the gunman down? Someone armed with a slingshot and rocks?

Police Brutality

In recent years, there have been protests, some of which were violent, because police officers shot and killed a suspect – usually it’s a white officer killing an African American suspect. To start with, do you really think that all police officers are racist killers? Of the instances where this happens, are you getting the whole story? Is it possible that witnesses who are videotaping are missing the part of the story where that suspect also had a gun? Was that suspect in some way resisting the officers command to comply with their orders, particularly the order to stop running? Did that suspect do something to threaten that officer?

How about the witness who videotapes the situation. Did they record what happened before the suspect was shot or roughed up? Did they do something that they shouldn’t have like maybe punching the officer or threatening them in some way?

Are there bad police officers? Yes there are. Are ALL police officers bad? Not hardly.

Don’t get me wrong when I say this, because any life taken at the hands of another human being is tragic and (peaceful)protesting for change is a good thing. Where are the protests for the innocent people dying at the hands of violent people in their own communities by criminals with guns who, by the way, probably got their guns illegally.

For those who think that either the military and/or the police should be eliminated, consider this, who will you call or who will protect you when a bad guy with a gun hurts you or your family?

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

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Questions to Ponder(Part 1)

I consider myself to be a reasonable person. When it comes to hot button topics and political differences of opinion, I like to look at both sides of the discussion, add in a little common sense, then come to a reasonable conclusion. After watching numerous debates between pundits on the news, I have to admit that I don’t understand how some people think.

Using some wisdom I’ve acquired, I have some questions and/or thoughts about some hot button topics that I’d like you, the reader, to ponder. I simply ask that you have an open mind as you read because if we are to discuss these hot button topics we need to look at both sides of the debate. If you don’t want to read another point of view, feel free to skip reading this, just know that we can never stop fighting and find common ground as long as we are closed minded steeple following the crowd.

Since this ended up longer than I intended, I’m breaking it up into smaller pieces.

Illegal Immigration and amnesty

Say you’re at your favorite restaurant and it’s really busy. You have to wait quite a while for a table. While you’re waiting in line to get seated, numerous people come in and get seated before you. Now, say you’re at the same restaurant and other people who were seated after you were waited on and served before you. Do these two scenarios anger you? What if you’re in line to get into the movies, a concert or sporting event and a bunch of people cut in front of you and get in before you. Are you not angry? Do you say something like, “Hey, I was here first!”

This is how legal immigrants who are going or have gone thru the hoops of becoming legal citizens feel when an illegal immigrant comes in and is given citizenship before they are and without going thru the same hoops as they do.

Here’s another scenario. Your home has walls and a door that locks, maybe windows that lock and a fence around the perimeter of your property. When you leave your home or go to bed at night do you lock your doors? Do you keep the gate on your fence closed? If your answer is yes, why do you? Is it to keep strangers and criminals out? Is it because you want to know who’s coming into your home or on your property? You don’t invite strangers or criminals in your home, right?

Why then do we allow strangers and criminals into our country that we call home?

An elected official is sworn to uphold laws and to protect the citizens who voted for them, correct? Why, then, do they allow criminal illegal immigrants walk the streets of their communities – especially rapists and murders? Do they think that just because they are protected from being deported that they’ll miraculously be law abiding people?

If you, an American citizen, go into another country illegally, would you be given or expect to be given the same rights and benefits as the legal citizens of that country? If so, do you really think you’d be given those rights and benefits?

White privilege

Let’s start this topic with the definition of “white privilege”. According to the Oxford English dictionary, “white privilege” is, “Inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.” Doesn’t this sound a little bit like racism in reverse? Doesn’t this also sound a bit like victimhood? “JQ Citizen is successful because they’re white. JQ Doe isn’t successful because they’re black/brown/ red/yellow/purple ?”

OK, take one white person, one black person, one brown person, etc and put them in three separate economic categories, poor, middle class and rich. Give each person in each category the same educational opportunities. I’ll bet each person will be successful or fail to be successful on some level but it won’t have anything to do with their color or economic status. How many times do you hear an athlete, entertainer, politician or CEO who is black/brown/ red/yellow/purple came from humble beginnings and worked hard to be successful?

Could it be that we are telling black/brown/red/yellow/purple kids that because of their skin color that they’ll never be good at anything or they’ll never be successful?

Truth is that no matter what hand we are dealt in life, each one of us in all skin colors and faiths have choices that we make that will help us to succeed or fail. Not everyone can get a trophy, but everyone can work hard and make the right choices to get that trophy

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

The State of the Union

“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will” ~ Abraham Lincoln.

On Tuesday night, January 30th, I decided to watch the State of the Union Address. Not because I support this president and certainly not because I wanted to listen to some stuffy speech. No, I watched it to see if the Democrats were going to stay sitting and not clap at all the whole time and to see if the mainstream media was going to twist the president’s words like they always do. I actually hoped that they would all prove me wrong, but alas, my hopes were dashed.

When President Trump said the African American and Hispanic unemployment rates were at the lowest they’ve ever been, the camera immediately panned over to the congressional black caucus and Hispanic Democrats. Not one of them stood. Not one of them even clapped. On the other side of the chamber, the so called racist, bigoted, misogynistic Republicans stood, clapped and cheered vocally. If you’re JQ African American citizen or John Doe Hispanic citizen who recently got a job and you’re happy about it, how do you feel knowing that the elected officials who you voted for are sitting in disapproval but the elected officials who are demonized are cheering – for your success? I know I was disheartened to say the least and I’m not a minority.

To the millions of Americans who saw $1,000 and $2,000 bonuses, your 401K plans soaring, a pay raise, etc, I ask you, do you consider any of that “bread crumbs”? Sure, the top 1% is getting more money out of the tax cuts too, but you are too. For those of us who live paycheck to paycheck these bonuses and changes mean the difference between our utilities being shut off or not, getting eviction notices or not and being able to retire and enjoy life rather than working until we’re 70 or 80 years old.

In the moments after President Trump’s speech and the following morning, I witnessed examples of bipartisan opinions. The news played a segment of the speech then I heard comments from both sides of the media. One example is, “He didn’t unite the country at all, he divided it more.” Really? Did you hear the same speech I heard? I noticed he frequently said “we”, “us” and “our”. They broke down unifying words vs ego driven words – he said “we” 129 times, “our” 104 times and “I” 29 times. Whether those numbers are 100% accurate, I don’t know, but I was able to pull up a transcript of President Trump’s speech. In between one applause and the next, I counted “we” 13 times. I’ll let you be the judge whether he was unifying or dividing.

I’m not going to go into a rant over this and list all the other stuff I see or how ridiculous certain people are acting. Many people hate President Trump for different reasons. Their minds are dead set on hating him no matter what. I will say this tho, if you are going along with what others tell you about this president, I encourage you to do a little research. Read articles that are right and left leaning and include neutral articles. Listen to President Trump’s speeches. And perhaps most importantly, do all of this with an open mind. If you question that he or his campaign staff colluded with Russia, seek the proof of this. If you question that he’s a racist, look for examples of things he’s done or said that show it. When you follow the crowd, you are a sheeple – a combination of sheep and people. Sheep are easily led to one place or another.

My spiritual mentor once said, “Follow your Path to the Water…Gather your Water upstream from others, so you are gathering Pure, unpolluted Water. Others may try to show you where to go for Water…Each one of us needs to find our own Spring,our own well, our own Source of pure Water…unpolluted, with no additives…” His quote applies to this situation. If you choose to do your own research(gather your own water) as opposed to listening to what others tell you(being shown where to go) about President Trump, you might be surprised by the results.

Thought for the day: Don’t believe everything you’re told. Sometimes people lead others where they want for other reasons that are impure.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Unsung Heroes Final Chapter

I’d like to close this piece with a song by a group called Dream Theater. The song is titled, “The Enemy Inside”(lyrics are at the end). I’ve listened to this song for a couple of years now and I’ve even sang the lyrics a time or 2 but when I listened to it the other day, I realized something. As I listened to the words, I mean really listened, I got a better understanding of what Bob and other combat veterans feel. I’m referring to PTSD.

In an interview with a writer from Song Facts, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci says,

“…at the time that we were in the studio working on the album and I was writing lyrics, the Boston Marathon bombings happened. There was a lot of discussion of terrorism and PTSD as it affects people who witness traumatic events like terrorism, so it was just very on my mind. It linked very well with the mood of the song, and as we started to get into it, I watched some documentaries and things like that. I was like, ‘This is really something that needs to be written about.'”

John Petrucci is right PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is something that needs to written and talked about more. It is a disorder in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The problem with PTSD is that oftentimes, if it’s not dealt with properly and effectively, a person is more likely to turn to drugs and/or alcohol in an attempt to self medicate their internal demons away.

While it certainly affects other people, PTSD tends to affect military men and women slightly different. The image of a soldier is oftentimes described as stoic, or a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining, but they are still humans who have the same feelings as you and me. The difference is that veterans are often not likely to talk to a therapist, let alone even ask for help for c aroused reasons. Sometimes they aren’t allowed to talk about their experiences.

There have been many studies done on ways to treat our service men and women with PTSD. Medication is one thing that helps but perhaps something that helps even more is feeling accepted. I can see this when I hear of service animals serving as emotional support for our military.  What do our furry companions do for humans? They provide a source of unlimited and unconditional love. Combat veterans feel repulsed by things they’ve done or seen. They may feel like they’re horrible monsters. A service animal will love that veteran or any person with PTSD for who they are and the love in their hearts.

Families of veterans and currently serving soldiers are also affected with PTSD. Having the spouse leave for some far off land to protect our country while ducking and dodging bullets is very hard on any family member. Mom or dad not being home for Christmas and other momentous occasions is hard on both the spouse and children.

There is an ending for Bob’s story. Due to the sensitive nature of it, I have left it out. Suffice it to say, he is one of many veterans who’ve fallen thru the cracks of the system. He and I are looking for some help to bring his story to a better end and perhaps give him every some peace. The help that may be required would probably need to be someone pretty high ranking in government. He has been searching far longer than I have. If you know of anyone who can help, you can either leave a comment or private message me.

In closing, my hope is that you not only enjoyed reading this but maybe even caught a message. Hopefully you learned about something you previously didn’t know. Most of all, I my hope is that you caught a message of respect. Respect for not only military men and women but for other people no matter their race or creed, and respect for yourself. Perhaps you’ll find the same appreciation for our military, our flag and our country. Bob is but one soldier who gave up his life – his entire life – for this country. If you don’t show respect the flag, national anthem, service men and women, then show respect for this man. His life was forever changed so you could enjoy the way of life you live today. The way of life you take for granted.

Thought for the day: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ~ Wendy Mass

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Dream Theater

“The Enemy Inside”

Over and over again
I relive the moment
I’m bearing the burden within
Open wounds hidden under my skin

Pain is real as a cut that bleeds
The face I see every time I try to sleep
Staring at me crying

[CHORUS]
I’m running from the enemy inside
Looking for the life I left behind
These suffocating memories are etched upon my mind
And I can’t escape from the enemy inside

I sever myself from the world
and shut down completely
All alone in my own living hell
overcome with irrational fear

Under the weight of the world on my chest
I buckle and break as I try to catch my breath
Tell me I’m not dying

[CHORUS]
I’m running from the enemy inside
Looking for the life I left behind
These suffocating memories are etched upon my mind
And I can’t escape from the enemy inside

I’m a burden and a travesty
I’m a prisoner of regret
Between the flashbacks and the violent dreams
I am hanging on the edge

Disaster lurks around the bend
Paradise came to an end
And no magic pill
can bring it back again

[CHORUS]
I’m running from the enemy inside
Looking for the life I left behind
These suffocating memories are etched upon my mind
And I can’t escape from the enemy inside

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Unsung Heroes Part 6

When I woke up a while later on Sunday morning, I went straight to the news. Irma appeared to be quickly approaching the city where Bob lives. I could tell by social media that he was online so I assumed Bob was still alive. I patiently waited to hear from him.  True to a soldier’s form, Bob and his service dog, Sugar, survived the hurricane. Even tho Irma had lost some of her energy by the time she blew by his town in central Florida, she still caused  some damage.

Bob: May be my last chat for awhile Hun. Keep writing and Prayers to you. Your a very special Lady. Bless her(Sugar). She is going crazy. I’ve had no sleep. It’s like I’m back in Nam waiting for a damn Ambush…48hrs with 2hrs sleep.

Later on he wrote,

Bob: I’ve never been one to give into fear but yesterday evening I had 2 elderly couples on oxygen who were here and needed to go to hospital. So I called ambulance and when they got here, the EMTs said they would take one and not the other. Me being me, I told them they were and off to races we went. I told the one he would or I’d give him a colonoscopy with my 357 and they took both people. They called the sheriff on me. The deputy was very nice. He said he knew how I felt and this time he’d overlook it but not next time….Yes, I was wrong but with my medical training I knew they wouldn’t last through the storm hun. It’s me and my beliefs in always taking care of our elders and it was going to happen or else. I wish you could have seen the look on that EMTs face. The best thing before they left was both ladies gave me a Kiss and said they Loved me. It was worth it all.

We briefly chatted about what Irma had in mind for Florida for the day. He went on to say,

Bob: Sugar’s my baby and I have food for her and MREs for me, that’s the new food they feed soldiers now not like the K rations they gave us. I’ll lose power when it hits, please keep writing…I’ll let you go and take your image with me. Prayers to you and A’ho my Sweet and amazing Lady. My lights are flickering now

Me: I’ll be thinking of you. May Great Spirit and your ancestors watch over you.

Bob: Thank you, they ask me to evacuate(last night) but it’s just not in me. Until we talk again, Steph, know this – you’re the Shining Light in mine and so may others on your page. Bye for now Hun. I’ll will miss you

Me: And I will miss you. Until we speak again. A’ho Healer

At that point Bob needed to take cover because there were tornado warnings for his area. Tuesday morning, he told me,

Bob: Morning Steph, Just wanted to stop in and tell you yesterday I was carrying tree limbs for the people I told you about and a Transformer blew right over me. I hit the ground, it started my Ptsd again very bad. So have a Wonderful day my Special Lady, going back to bed, for car is about out of gas, CVS is closed and no gas getting to stations. Drs. canceled all appts. Out of my meds, so I may not Be on today much.

Thankfully Bob was able to get more medicine but he continues to have problems on and off since then because of his experiences in Vietnam.

He did tell me one weekend about a little fun he had. While they were still cleaning up after Irma, Bob and a friend needed to remove a few alligators from their neighborhood. The fearless Native American warrior and retired Vietnam War veteran threw caution to the Wind and hopped in a golf cart with his friend and corralled the cranky, displaced lizards back to their home.

When he went home, he had a drink and shed a tear. Not because it was refreshing to have on a day like that. No far from it. He toasted the friends he lost from his recon. He’s the only one left. The others have all passed away either in the war, from cancer or from suicide. It’s the only time he has a drink nowadays.  

__________________

In another part of Florida, another Vietnam War veteran lived a very different life. The following is a social media post that his family posted in an effort to find him. By my guesstimations, this soldier didn’t make it thru Irma’s wrath. To protect his anonymity, I changed his name.

John Doe September 15th

During the Vietnam War, every night my Mom stayed glued to the evening news looking to see if her son, “Johnny” was being loaded onto a Medivac chopper. Thankfully he never was.

“After high school he was in the Vietnam War. He came back a different person. The war changed him. He withdrew” and ended up living up and down the Florida Keys for 30 to 40 years while working as a carpenter.

“Almost 50 years (after Vietnam), “Johnny” now lives on a boat in Key West and “Johnny’s” little brothers and sisters are currently searching NOAA satellite images post Hurricane Irma … to see if “Johnny’s “ boat is still afloat. As soon as the Keys open back up … there’s gonna be a “Johnny” convoy heading south on US1.

“September 17th. Update on my brother “Johnny”. A news article reported finding a body in a half sunken boat in the area he lived in. The man is in his “60’s, with gray hair and beard”. This fits  “Johnny’s” description and the location of where he moors his boat … BUT, BUT, BUT … we have no confirmation. It may not be him. Oh, brother … where art thou?”

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Come back tomorrow to read my final thoughts.

Unsung Heroes Part 5

One weekend in the beginning of September 2017, hurricane Irma ripped thru Florida. I haven’t known many people who’ve lived in the path of a hurricane before let alone one so powerful. By now, I’d only known Bob for a couple weeks but I found myself worried about his safety. All of the meteorologists were predicting Irma to be a catastrophic storm when it hit Florida as a category 5 hurricane. A great many Floridians evacuated northward but some had nowhere to go to and no way to get there. Bob was one of those who stayed behind.

The day that the governor declared a state of emergency for Florida, I tried to coerce Bob again to seek a safer location. He replied,

Bob: Hun, I’m going to stay where I am now. I’ve been shot and blown up. So let it blow I guess.

Me: Smh(shake my head), you must be one of those tough as hell kind of guys. LOL!

Bob: Not really, I’ve just seen it and been there. Please don’t worry, I wanted to let you know before you seen it.

How could I not worry? Even tho I just met this man, he and I had some pretty deep, personal chats. Besides, he’d only told me a snippet of his story. I was interested in learning more from someone who was actually there.

Friday morning, as this monstrous storm was still on track to slam into Florida,  I woke up to the following message.

Bob: Saturday morning will be last day on, I don’t do this ever but here’s a Kiss for you. You are such amazing young Lady. Steph if this doesn’t go well keep writing and someday you can tell my Story. Good bye Hun

Me: Do I take it you don’t expect to make it thru the storm?

Bob: Right now it’s not looking good hun!

Me: How will I tell your story if you leave? I will definitely keep writing tho.

Bob: Just write what I told you and never stop for your a amazing. Your writing has brought new life to me

Me: I am grateful for the gifts you’ve given me. Your mother’s name, the confidence to keep writing and the inspiration to continue writing my book

Bob: Your very welcome, never stop for your helping so many People. A’ho my Sweet Lady Bye Hun

Me: …No goodbyes. Until we meet again.

Bob: I’ll never leave you, I’ll protect and look over you. Your very special to me and to be really truthful, being blunt again, I really don’t know what I do without you…Your very amazing to me…

Me: …For the very brief time that I’ve known you you’ve been amazing also. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t given me the gifts that you’ve given me. Take care and I’ll talk to you later.

He was trying to say goodbye to me but I wasn’t having it. Knowing the real possibility of him not making it thru, I chose to attempt to give him hope that he could make it. Besides, “Goodbyes” are permanent. “See you later” means much more.

My eyes were glued to the news the rest of the the evening trying to calculate Irma’s path. I found myself sending up more smoke and prayers for a man I had only just met thru social media less than a month before.

Saturday morning. We chatted for a few moments as Irma was bearing down on the Florida Keys. Still a category 5 hurricane, Irma had basically leveled the Virgin Islands, Cuba and other places in the Caribbean.

I stayed up half the night watching Irma tear up Florida’s Keys and then going up her western coastline. By the time she got to the area where Bob lives, Irma had been downgraded to a category 3 hurricane. Still powerful enough to cause a lot of damage but not like the devastation that was seen in the Keys. I eventually fell asleep around 3am.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Come back tomorrow to see if  Bob made it thru hurricane Irma and about another Vietnam War veteran that was living in Irma’s path.

Unsung Heroes Part 4

I began this piece with the quote, “…many scars of our nation’s wounded warriors are not visible.(Like)the recurring memories of an intense moment of combat…Far too often, my peers are haunted in silence without the same support of a grateful nation encouraging them through their struggle…As a society…we must do more to support these men and women who return home with the injuries we cannot see.” ~ Rep. Brian Mast . Keep this in mind as you read this part today.

Even tho I barely knew this man, he shared with me a very personal snapshot of his story, something he hasn’t told anyone ever in 50yrs. To this date, he hasn’t been able to tell me much more than what you are about to read. The following is a true story from one Vietnam War veteran who is a Native American Elder. I edited the spelling, some grammar and little else. This just a snippet of his story.

“I was a navy corpsman for 5th marine recon. Every night we were in Cambodia they took our dog tags. I found out later that it was just in case we were found and captured they wouldn’t think we were spies.

“The night we got ambushed in Cambodia, I lost the Lieutenant but saved the Gunny and I was hit by a grenade. They found out I was only 17 yrs old and that’s when my trouble really began. They gave me hand full of medals and told me all the good they would do for me.

“I was sent back to the Great Lakes to work in a VA hospital until they figured out what to do with me. While I was there, a Lieutenant nurse told me to write a bunch of prescriptions for this guy. I knew all the meds would have killed him so I refused to do it. That was another Captain’s Mast*. I was given an Honorable discharge but the Navy never honored me being there.

(*Captain’s Mast is the Navy term for Non-judicial Punishment. This is used when a Sailor is in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This is only used when other options to correct deficiencies have been unsuccessful or when the violation is fairly egregious (some examples are integrity violations, under-age drinking, drinking and driving, adultery, unauthorized absence, cheating/lying and assault).

“I’m a child of the 60’s and, yes, I smoked some of the best pot throughout Southeast Asia. I spent 8yrs fighting VA and drank my way through first marriage. We divorced and I don’t blame her. She is the mother of my children. When we parted ways I gave up fighting for them.

“After the divorce, I went to the reservation in the Hills of Cherokee, NC to be with my moms people. This part of the reservation, then and even now, mostly doesn’t have electricity. They are so traditional that whenever they vote on anything they always vote no. Also, here it is the custom of many elders that they walk into the woods to cross over.

“I spent time with my aunt who went to the Hills during the removal. She was a great medicine Lady. While I was there, I found my way back to my Circle. Her people were all Medicine men and women who saved my life in many ways.

“The first thing she did was hold a sweat lodge to remove my inner demons. Then she taught me the ways of crystals, herbs, and dream walking. I spent 6 months there, learning from her and daughters. She became ill about 12 years ago and crossed over. Her daughters are of age now and every once in awhile I still call if their lines aren’t down. If it hadn’t been for her I would be dead by now, if you call these nightmares living. My aunt is the one who named my Mom who you have now to carry on with your stories.

“Years later, I found out my doctor was in the Cornel Air Force. He was there(Vietnam) in the late 1950’s. He said he helped them develop chemicals that they tested along the Cambodian border where i was. Now my bones have started to deteriorate. Today, after 2 metal backs, 2 neck surgeries and a new knee, I found out that I was a victim of these chemicals. This doctor and my neurologist have written several letters telling the VA and to this day no luck. I love my country but politicians I hate.”

(Before he’d told me this much of his story, Bob told me about the very vivid, horrific nightmares he’s had each and every night since he came home from Vietnam. That’s roughly 50 years! When he’d told me about the nightmares, I gave him some suggestions. Sadly, he’d already literally tried everything and nothing has worked. He did however have a service dog named Sugar who had helped him a lot as he dealt with his anxiety, depression and nightmares.  As I write this, Bob still only gets about 2 hours of sleep per night. He also has days that are worse than others.) After we discussed my suggestions, he said to me,

“I take meds for anxiety, but the dreams are there and will always will be. This is just part of the story Steph. I will someday try and finish telling you. Like I said we all have our demons Hun.”

Sadly tho, as I write this, he so far hasn’t been able to finish telling me the rest of his story. The pain of his nightmares that have haunted him every night for the last 50 or so years has become to powerful for him. Out of respect for him, I’ve left it there.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Come back tomorrow to read more about  Bob and his experience with hurricane Irma.