For all our troops deployed, and for all those who wait for their return. Our prayers are with you all.
Monthly Archives: December 2012
- rarely gets a full night sleep due to nightmares, night sweats, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and pain
- never has a day without a headache (ranges from 2 or 3 on a “normal” day to 6-9 on bad days) and frequently gets migraines
- never has a day without “undiagnosable” abdominal pain (doctors scratching heads)
- has frequent flares of stabbing eye pain
- does not see well in bright light or dark settings, sees better without his glasses at times
- avoids crowds, but is able to “get though” when necessary
- has been through blind rehab, TBI/vision rehab, and PTSD inpatient treatment for 10 weeks each
- has poor short-term memory–knows his Army regs and Fire Department protocols, but will stand for hours in the toothpaste aisle because he does not know which brand he buys and the number of choices are overwhelming
- will likely forget part or all of the conversation he had with you
- is considered a quiet man because when he gets confused he just stops talking and hopes no one notices
- is quick to anger, quick to forget
- never feels completely safe
- has gone though periods of isolation where he hides in the basement and periods where we must always be in the same room
- he gets extremely depressed, feels worthless
- has considered suicide more than one time; homicide as well
We have learned to say “new normal” like it’s some shiny banner proclaiming we are making the best of it and moving forward. One step forward and two steps back.
We have received the most amazing, incredible, extraordinary, unbelieveable blessing!! Operation Opening Doors of South Dakota, in partnership with Associated General Contractors South Dakota Building Chapter and JDH Construction, has chosen our home for a remodel! This remodel will make our home more accessible and safe for Sean and will incorporate features to assist him in his day to day living. We are THRILLED to be a part of this magnificent project!
|Broke gound October 30th|
Lounsbery said a new, larger bathroom with a walk-in shower and other features will be built in an addition to the home. And, she said, the area in the existing home that is now the bathroom and bedroom area will be converted into an expanded, larger bedroom.
In November Sean was honored to be invited by the Blinded Veterans Association to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. Following speeches in the Memorial Amphitheater by Erik Shinseki, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and President Obama, Sean, along with National BVA Director Al Avina and National President Sam Huhn, presented a wreath at The Tomb of the Unknowns. For more information on the ceremony, please read Honoring All Veterans.
We traveled to DC with my parents, Jim and Linda Cameron, who had never been to our nation’s capitol. We had the pleasure of exploring familiar monuments and attractions with new eyes. We visited the US Capitol, The National Mall, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Ford’s Theater, and Mount Vernon. Also on his first trip to DC was Sean’s new guide dog, Cole. We walked so much that poor Cole got a small tear on his pad and had to wear his doggie booties the last two days.
The BEST and most EXCITING thing to happen to me in 2012 was being selected as a Dole Caregiver Fellow as part of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. The mission of the Foundation includes providing assistance, raising awareness, and conducting research. More information will be available with the official website launch next year.
20 caregivers, male and female, from across the nation gathered in Washington, DC the first week of October with a common goal: to be a voice for 1000s of others we work with and support every single day. The whirlwind trip included an overview of the program, video taping our personal stories, meeting with RAND Corporation, and a nightime tour of the city’s beautiful monuments with Senator Elizabeth Dole.
During the 2012 MOAA/NDIA Warrior-Family Symposium Senator Elizabeth Dole introduced a new initiative, Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation. When her husband, Sen. Bob Dole, was treated at the then-Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Dole saw firsthand the importance of supporting caregivers of injured servicemembers. The initiative will fund research on the topic and bring together organizations that are already working to resolve issues involving injured servicemembers and their caretakers.
“I believe America has not fulfilled her promise to care for our wonded and their caregivers who have sacrificed so much,” Dole said. “The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is committed to hope and healing for every single individual who has risked his or her life for our nations. . . Let us take the problems you face into the opportunities you deserve. Only then will it be morning in America again for all of us.”
There are not words for how incredibly blessed and humbled I am to be a member of this outstanding group of men and women.
|National Press Building|
|Iwo Jima Memorial|
|World War 2 Memorial|
|Senator Elizabeth Dole at WWII Memorial|
|Here we mark the price of freedom|
|Not sure why they let us that close to the White House 😉
Sandra Touchet, Kat Honaker, Me, and Torrey Shannon
October brought two incredible opportunties my way. First, I was asked to participate in an interview with CBS Evening News for a piece on Secondary PTSD with my dear friends Brannan Vines, Torrey Shannon, and Kat Honaker. We met up in Washington DC to sit down with Alison Schwartz Dorfman, Executive Producer of CBS Evening News, and discuss the mental health issues facing caregivers of veterans across the nation, specifically Secondary PTSD. You can find the two videos here:
Caregivers of US Veterans Bear Scars of War
Treating Family Members Suffering From PTSD
Let me tell you, it is truly a humbling experience to sit for nearly two hours and explain your mental health issues to complete strangers. The four of us laughed, cried, hugged, and cried again. We worried for weeks until the segments aired about what the world–our friends, our familes, strangers–would think of us. Would they see us as weak and cowardly? Strong? Hopeful? Surely we would be judged. . . The piece was met with overwhelming cheers and thanks for speaking out on a painful, sensitive, and embarrasing issue. At the time I thought perhaps I’d lost my mind, but now I am thankful that I had the courage to stand up and shine a light into the dark corners of our world.
I also had the opportunity to present at the 2012 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. AUSA’s Family Programs provide Army families assistance to manage the challenges of military life. The Miltary Family Forum was designed to bring to light the issues surrounding reintegration following deployement and/or injury. Below you can read an article from Military.com which features my panel.
- We are in year *5* of the med board process, essentially starting over. When we testifed in 2010 on Seamless Transition we were assured that Sean’s case would be wrapped up, yet we’re starting over five years later. I felt there was an effort to “breeze over” that fact and call us an “extreme” case. I see these “extreme” cases every single day.
- We did not have, and still do not have, adequate support from Sean’s unit. We have had a complete lack of support from the military. I believe injury and illness gives new definition to an “Army of One.”
- I know *without a doubt* I NEVER said, “Army family.” We don’t have an Army family here. The one we should have had dropped Sean the moment he was injured and dropped me when I said I was too overwhelmed dealing with his injuries to volunteer for them full time.
- Those of us in rural areas face unequal, at times nearly impossible, access to care. We must travel hours, wait months, jump through hoops at the last minute in order to get physical and mental health care for our veterans.
- It’s not about our case, it’s about painting a picture of what’s going on nationwide with families and veterans, raising awareness, and pushing for change.