Friday, May 31, 2019

*tap, tap* Is this thing on?

Wow. Its been a hot minute since I've written anything. 

I'm not even really sure if people still read this stuff anymore. 

Well, that's not entirely true. Google analytics tells me there are page views here. 

But what are the odds those are real breathing people versus robots? My money is on the robots. 


I'm not even sure where to start. 

First of all...we have a vlog! You can find us here at The Incredible Warrior Family!  We would love for you guys to follow us over there and catch up to see what we are doing these days. Or some of what we are doing. Some of it we can't talk much about publicly but I'm going to try and give you all a nutshell to bring us up to speed. 

I lost my will to blog, and to write at all, when my life became consumed with advocating for G.I. Joe. His injuries turned out to be much worse than originally stated. However, he was very much overlooked by the military and did not always receive the care he needed. I wasn't just his caregiver, I had to be his voice. I couldn't talk about this stuff publicly while it was going on but at various times in 2013 I had to go to the Army Chief of Staff and Surgeon General. At a certain point the Vice Chief, the SG, and the Secretary were all following his case. We lost a lot in this fight for care. Mostly time and sanity. My health took a fair beating. 

Everything turned out so different than what I was told back when he was initially wounded. 

"He'll fully recover."

 "The Army will take care of him."

 "In a year or less he'll be as good as new." 

None of that happened. In 2014, because of all those amazing leaders stepping in, G.I. Joe was placed in the care of an innovative TBI center. Appointments 5 days a week, multiple therapists a day. We are so thankful to God that He orchestrated all of this that lead us to this specific clinic. It saved his quality of life and has kept him from getting worse. 

At almost 4 years post injury, G.I. Joe medically retired. It was a decision we agonized over but ultimately his injuries were too extensive and he did not want to be a liability to his team. As we started to rebuild our new normal with the kids, something else unexpected happened. 

The kids and I were in a car accident. Its been a couple years now but I still struggle everyday with the effects of my own TBI, PTSD, and neck injury. 

Now, I'm not just his caregiver. 

We are each other's caregivers. 

We've had to learn how to navigate life as a family with multiple life-changing conditions. God has seen us through and I am more in love with G.I. Joe today then I was 7 years ago when all this started. Its been a battle but we are rebuilding our life and finding God's purpose in the trauma. 

One other thing we've been doing is art. G.I. Joe is an incredible artist who has had a solo show at a National museum, and the Pentagon. 

You can check out my modern abstract pieces here. There are prints available for sale. 

And there we have it. My first blog in...a long time. I'm toying with writing more on here, but in the meantime you can definitely reconnect with us on the vlog as well as my public instagram account which is my_carousel_of_progress Drop us a comment here, on the vlog, or Insta and let me know how you are doing!

Thank you to all the non-robots who actually read this! 

And to the robots.... 
010101000110100001100001011011100110101101110011001000000110011001101111011100100010000001110010011001010110000101100100011010010110111001100111

Monday, September 2, 2013

Eleazar and The Bad Day Anthems

Ok...I'm just going to go ahead and Dave Barry it...that sounds like a great name for a rock band ;)

Seriously though. I keep wanting to dive into blogging about everything that we have been through in the past 18 months. Yeah, can you believe its been 18 months??? I want to start back at the beginning at Walter Reed but it kind of hurts to do that because of what we are going through now. We're exhausted, tired of struggling to get what he needs, and some other things I can't even post about yet. But the bottom line is we have had to fight tooth and nail for many of the things that G.I. Joe needs. Things that should have been guaranteed. We were warned from day 1 that I would have to be his advocate and fight for things. For the service member to do it its more complicated since they are still serving under a chain of command.

From day 1 though G.I. Joe and I also had a game plan....

We would NEVER stop at what we need. If we saw something that affected other wounded warriors we would seek to advocate for them and speak for the voiceless. That can be exhausting and frustrating. It can wear you down quickly but we have to press on. For our family and for everyone else, we can't give up. To just stop and accept that we can't affect change in certain areas makes so much of our own struggles on the road to recovery just seem pointless.

My heart aches to make things easier for G.I. Joe. And for every other wounded warrior coming after us. We want them to be spared some of the unnecessary things.

When I need a pick me up my heart whispers the name Eleazar. Weird, huh? Haha. So in college I went to school for Biblical studies. I cannot believe in all that study that I managed to look past this warrior. But God knew when I really needed to be struck by him. This summer one of our pastors shared the story of King David's sidekick, Eleazar. The entire Israelite Army had retreated at the sight of their mighty enemy. Except Eleazar. Here's what happened:

but Eleazar stood his ground
and struck down the Philistines
till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.
The LORD brought about a great victory that day.
The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
2 Samuel 23:10
 
Everyone has bad days or moments of doubt in their own strength. But for me I really believe God gives us what we need when we need it. Somehow when I think I can't do one more late night, or one more forced smile to convince G.I. Joe that I'm slaying whatever giant is in his way I realize that maybe I can keep going. My hand is froze to the sword. And for me, that sword is my voice. Its hours of phone interviews to educate any willing ears as to what wounded warrior families need. Its emails to the Pentagon. Its repeating "Don't worry, I'll take care of this" when I truly don't know what on earth I'm going to do yet to fix the latest break. Even if no one else stands with me in battle, I know the One who does.

And here are a few of my favorite "Bad Day Anthems" that I play on repeat to psych myself up when I need an internal pep rally :) Turn them up on a day when you need a little extra boost to slay your giants.


 Ps...when G.I. Joe has a rough day I usually drop everything and rap "Hall of Fame" to him. This  makes him realize he has bigger issues than whatever was previously bothering him ;)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am a Caregiver.

I was not prepared for this role.
                Not emotionally. Not in practice.
                I often don’t even know what questions I should ask.
But that will never stop me.
 
I don’t flinch when conversations start with things like
                “When I was blown up….”
 
I may not have formal medical training,
                But I can probably change IV bags, wound bandages,
                And administer shots.
 
I pass on updates to loved ones
                Before I can even process what information I’m given.
 
I lost many friends.
                Some were “jealous” of the attention my Warrior gets.
                Some thought “wounded husband” was a contagious disease.
               
In the wounded…I found family, not just friendship.
 
I hold our children close at night in bed
                And answer questions about war and terrorism
                That no child should ever have to ask.
 
I grip the kitchen counter, white knuckled, as he makes his own sandwich.
                Sometimes I have to do something for him,
                But I know when it benefits him more to do something himself.
 
I looked on in wonder as he took his first steps as a new man.
 
I looked on in fear after that as his gaunt body looked ready to crumble.
 
When the muscle and weight came back, and he needed new dress blues
                I cried tears of joy.
 
I cry. A. Lot.
                Even months and years later.
                But only when he is asleep.
 
I am territorial of my Warrior.
 
I am a walking medical library and pharmacy.
 
I try not to finish his sentences.
                He needs to recall the lost word himself.
 
During the fight for proper care, with each set back,
                I give myself one night.
                To cry, to eat ice cream. To disconnect.
 
Then I get back up.
                And I fight. For him. For all of them.
 
I hold people accountable.
                Especially when he is unable to.
 
I often feel a fire within
                Causing me to boldly speak for the Voiceless.
Fear of public speaking dissolves as I approach
General Officers and request better support of the wounded.
 
I see the blessings in every Friday night pizza
and the chance to bicker over toppings.
 
I also am painfully aware of the things we’ve lost.
                But that’s not what I chose to set my mind to.
 
I am not bitter.
 
 
I know that to live with anger and hatred means
                They have won.
 
I will NOT let the enemy win.
 
Not in my Warrior.
Not in my home.
Not in my heart.
 
 
I am a Caregiver.

 
 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My response to "THE" article.

If you are reading this blog post then its very likely you are familiar with military social networking and therefore know of the horrendous article written by David Wood over at the Huffington Post. Here is a link to the article and please note the title was changed. The article was written at the end of January but has faced a recent firestorm causing it to go mega viral. I left a comment last night but just didn't feel like I was "done." So here is the email I just sent him.

Mr. Wood,

 

Your article only just came to my attention last night. Judging from the hundreds of angry comments you received in the past 24 hours I’m guessing it slipped under other people’s radar until then as well. I would love to know where you are pulling your numbers from. My husband is an E5 and is currently active duty with the Army. He has been National Guard and a Reservist in the past though. So we have seen many sides of this lifestyle. Never though have we lived in the lavishness that you speak of. Because of years of inability to create a defense budget our family suffered financially. It was because of my parents that we didn’t end up in debtors prison. We are in a much better place now than we were before but our family of 4 still lives on less than -------(edited for privacy here and on FB)----- a year. My husband is in Special Operations and was wounded in action on February 20th, 2012. Which was also his 26th birthday. Our daughter was 3.5 years old and our son was 11 days old when I got the phone call informing me that he was wounded in an enemy attack. We rushed to his side at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and committed to staying there by his side until he was to be released. Normally the military compensates a family member as an "NMA" which is non- medical attendent. My children and I were denied this compensation for unjust reasons. We drained our savings account to pay for food, diapers and formula in the DC area where the cost of living was higher than our home of record. All along the way we had to fight for almost everything. They say if you are combat wounded the military will “fix it.” The truth is they will fix what they are willing to diagnose. He fights for recovery, I fight for his right to care. Where are our “lavish benefits?” Why do I have to threaten congressional investigations just to get my Purple Heart recipient treatment for the head injury he sustained in the attack?

 

People are so angry at you right now and saying some nasty things in their comments. I will admit your words made my blood boil. But I don’t hate you for saying them. And I’m not going to quibble over how wrong you are on your numbers or how much you distorted and misused the real facts about Defense budgeting. Let’s even pretend for a moment your numbers are correct. What you did as you exercised your freedom of speech and enjoyed freedom of press is you reduced these inalienable rights and the men who defend them to worthless piles of cash.

I will tell you the same thing hundreds of family members and service members are saying…

 we are not spoiled.

 

We do not live “lavishly.”

Not by financial means though.

 Here is what I enjoy in “lavish” amounts as military wife…

Time away from my husband which makes my tears flow and my heart grow.

Difficult “Is daddy going to die over there” conversations with a 3 year old.

Absolute disgust for the sound of the door bell ringing when he is away.

The knowledge that some things are bigger than us and worth fighting for.

A lump in my throat at the sound of the National Anthem.

Memories of grown men, some with their original limbs and some with new shiney ones, learning to walk again because they were protecting me and my babies.

Heartbreaking moments of holding a woman close as she cries on my shoulder because her son has just died from wounds sustained in combat.

Ability to use MY voice and MY words in letters to Congress or the Pentagon to advocate for veterans and warriors who have no one to speak for them.

Confidence that even acts of the most violent hatred cannot destroy the American Spirit.

 



These things are lavished upon me. Some are difficult. Some are beautiful. But these are the things that all weave together, the good and bad, to make up the military life. You set out to write an article about budgets. Unfortunately you said so much more than that. If you had only stopped to let words like this sink into your heart before reducing us all to sniveling spoiled brats you might not have completely discredited yourself as a “journalist.” Go on, and keep writing. But just remember the words in this email because they are the life of those who sacrifice so much for your freedom to do so.
 
 
Jacqueline Goodrich~ Wounded Warrior Wife,
Founder of The General's Kids~Helping our nation's wounded warrior kids
through peer support and financial assistance.

 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Storm clouds and Rainbows

I feel awful for not being able to post this sooner but the lovely and talented JG asked me if she could write an article about our experience with Judd Apatow. The article was published on Breitbart Tuesday and for a little while was the "big" story in their entertainment section!!! She did such an awesome job putting everything together, especially considering I just wanted to ramble endlessly about it. We are so thankful to her and Breitbart for sharing our story. G.I. Joe and I are both hoping maybe others in Hollywood will see it and be inspired to reach out to wounded warriors. So if you have time give the article some comment and share love :) Clicking on the site and seeing that huge smile on my face totally made my week better.


Our week has been slightly stormy here. On Tuesday morning I started trying to make appointments for G.I.Joe. Important ones. But then we were hit hard with the revelation that back in December an error was made and he wasn't going to be able to see his doctors until it was straightened out. It caused a lot of panic and anxiety in G.I. Joe. Major trigger for his TBI symptoms. Thankfully we were able to spend yesterday in some offices getting a temporary fix in place so he will see his TBI specialist tomorrow and his other appointments start again next week. He feels a little better at least knowing he can get care but I would lie if I said this wasn't discouraging. We're both tired of fighting for everything. There will always be little glitches here and there but someone who is combat wounded has already done the "fighting" to obtain his right to care. His symptoms made it difficult yesterday for him to clearly, and without aggravation, express the issues so that's when caregivers like me step in and have to be the face of serenity. I'm happy to do it but its draining when you have to be the strong one, don't let your emotions show and keep it all together. So I'm tired today, but very much at peace that this will all be worked out soon.

And maybe one day it won't be the norm for caregivers to have to fight so hard for everything. I refuse to lose hope in that or to give up working for it.

Tag is also sick again. We had him at the doctor after all this yesterday and it looks like his airways are very prone to swelling when he has a virus. They think he'll need steroids whenever he has colds just while he is a little kid and then will grow out of it as they expand. Right now he just gets a few doses during a cold and its enough of a punch to get the swelling down and help him (haha and me) breathe easier.

So that's been our week. Typical wounded warrior life. :) But its a blessed one. We're getting really close to the launch of The General's Kids!!! Hopefully soon I'll have to official logo to share with you guys!!!


~Mrs. G.I. Joe