Category Archives: Uncategorized

Helen Deutsch Writer’s Workshop–New York City

In June of 2012 I was invited on a Caregiver’s Writing Retreat sponsored by Wounded Warrior Project.  Forty caregivers of veterans from across the nation were flown into New York City for a weekend of lights, sounds, laughter, and writing.  
We spent two full days working in our writing groups with professional mentors (you can read about my amazing mentors here: http://gothamist.com/2005/04/11/jessica_blank_and_erik_jensen_playwrights_the_exonerated_authors_living_justice.php) and honing our writing skills.  In the evenings we attended a play and had time to explore Times Square.  Several of us had the opportunity to visit Ground Zero and see the beautiful memorial fountains.
We returned in September for part two at the Writer’s Guild.  Working once again with our mentors, we had the chance to delve deeper into our writing and into ourselves to really find our “voice” and practice our craft.  The highlight of the trip was an evening bus tour around NYC and the surrounding boroughs which was wrapped up at an authentic NY pizza joint.  
My group has formed an online writing group to encourage one another to keep plugging away at our writing and discover where it takes us!


Opening the Box

Off topic from what I usually write here, but before I can sleep I need to clear this from my head.

From the time our kids were little, our 4th of July tradition had been to spend the day at my dad’s farm.  We would spend a week planning out the meal from burgers and brats to my step mother’s AMAZING potato salad to the red, white, and blue jello she made for the kids every year.  By noon we would be at the house setting up and preparing for the day’s festivities.  
The kids would help their dad unload the trunk full of fireworks with wide-eyed anticipation. 
“How long til it’s dark?”  
“Can we just do one now?”  
“Pleeeeease?”  
Before long they would be popping Snaps on the sidewalk and squealing with delight.  My brother and sister would come out with a box of matches and help the little kids light the black tabs that would grow into “snakes” and set off colored smoke bombs in the driveway.  
By the time dinner was ready, Sean and the other “big boys” would have the daytime attractions ready to fire:  bottle rockets and parachutes.  Kids would scramble as the paper parachutes drifted through the sky.  
Despite the heat, my dad would start a campfire and set up a semi circle of chairs facing the large gravel driveway.  He was always mindful of wind direction and to make sure no one got too close to the livestock or the hay barn.  We would fill our plates with food just before dusk and settle in around the campfire.  Before supper was over, the kids would be begging for marshmallows to roast.  

As the sun set in the west, the boys would start their fireworks display. Aerial repeaters, roman candles, helicopters, ground spinners, strobes, and fountain tubes filled the air with gorgeous colors of flashing light and the smell of sulphur. When the show had finished, the kids would get their turn with multicolored sparklers to see if they could write their names in the air before it burned out.

After our supplies were spent, we would pull our chairs into the driveway for a perfect view of the city fireworks display. Dad always joked that we had to move further out into the driveway each year for a good view because, “It seems like those trees get taller every year.”

When the last sparkle left the sky, it was time to gather around the bon fire and roast marshmallows.  If you were roasting for Grandma, you would stick it deep into the flames until it caught fire.  For the little kids, just a little brown around the edges.  Add graham crackers and Hershey bar for the most finger-licking melty treat you can imagine!  
The logs would slowly begin to burn out and turn to ash.  Any free lap was prime real estate for a sleepy child. A few stray fireworks would pop in the distance from time to time. 
I have missed these times greatly in the past few years.  The farm no longer stands and my dad is gone.  My husband can’t enjoy the fireworks the way he once did and the children are grown with plans of their own.  Today was HARD.  
A wise and wonderful friend told me tonight that the reason today was so painful for me was because these memories are like opening up a box of my father’s belongings–things I’m not necessarily ready to deal with that have raw pain attached to them.  I opened a box and looked inside.  It’s all there, inside me.  So until next year, I’m going to replace the lid and store that box away, knowing there is a piece of me stored inside as well. It’s not gone. . . but will be there when I’m ready to peek in again.  

CDMRP

March took us to D.C. to participate on a panel as part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs.  Basically, we reviewed grant proposals and then worked with a panel comprised of veterans, doctors, and scientists to determine the merit of each proposal as it applied to science and to the impact for patients.  To say this was a learning experience would be an enormous understatement!

The highlight for me was meeting fellow FOV staff Brannan Vines, and Amanda & Tony Patchell!  So exciting to meet my friends in person and be able to hug each one of them.  The trip was a huge success and a great time was had all around.

Melissa with Brannan Vines,
President and Founder of Family Of a Vet
Melissa and Amanda
Tony and Sean


At Last


Sometimes life with PTSD means. . . part 3

**This album is a collection of thoughts & quotes from Veterans and those who love them who are living life with PTSD. If you’d like to submit a quote of approximately 70 words or less to possibly be included in this album, please send it to info-at-familyofavet.com.**

Shared by Family Of a Vet, Inc., a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families learn how to cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and life after combat through real-world, plain language education and resources for heroes, families, and communities.
If you know a Veteran or loved one that we can help, please encourage them to visit us:

On the web – http://www.familyofavet.com/
On Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/lifeaftercombat
On Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/familyofavet
On our blog – http://blog.familyofavet.com/
On BlogTalk Radio – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/familyofavet
On YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/familyofavet


Sometimes life with PTSD means. . . part 2

~Wife of a Veteran with PTSD
~Wife of a Wounded Hero
~Wife of a Hero with PTSD & TBI

**This album is a collection of thoughts & quotes from Veterans and those who love them who are living life with PTSD. If you’d like to submit a quote of approximately 70 words or less to possibly be included in this album, please send it to info-at-familyofavet.com.**

Shared by Family Of a Vet, Inc., a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families learn how to cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and life after combat through real-world, plain language education and resources for heroes, families, and communities.

If you know a Veteran or loved one that we can help, please encourage them to visit us:

On the web – http://www.familyofavet.com/
On Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/lifeaftercombat
On Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/familyofavet
On our blog – http://blog.familyofavet.com/
On BlogTalk Radio – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/familyofavet
On YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/familyofavet


Sometimes life with PTSD means. . .

~Veteran, US Army (Desert Storm)

 ~A Veteran Struggling with PTSD
 
 ~Wife of a Combat Veteran with PTSD
 
 ~Combat Veteran with PTSD
~Combat Veteran with PTSD
**This album is a collection of thoughts & quotes from Veterans and those who love them who are living life with PTSD. If you’d like to submit a quote of approximately 70 words or less to possibly be included in this album, please send it to info@familyofavet.com.**

Shared by Family Of a Vet, Inc., a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families learn how to cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and life after combat through real-world, plain language education and resources for heroes, families, and communities.

If you know a Veteran or loved one that we can help, please encourage them to visit us:

On the web – http://www.familyofavet.com/
On Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/lifeaftercombat
On Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/familyofavet
On our blog – http://blog.familyofavet.com/
On BlogTalk Radio – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/familyofavet
On YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/familyofavet


Goodbye 2011

January–boring. . . . .
February–perpetual snow, one of the snowiest
winters on record in SD
Keeley’s 17th
March–24 hours in Seattle and dinner at
the top of the Space Needle
April–Junior Prom

May–Speaking at the Canadian Embassy in DC
There goes Prince Charles!

June–US Cycling Nationals in Augusta, GA
July–Dinner with family
USABA Rocky Mountain State Games
August–LAS VEGAS with Christina
Fremont Street
September–Touring the Black Hills with Lou
October–Erin’s graduation from Aveda Institute
Pumpkin carving
November–fishing
Veterans Day Program

December–Meeting Kateri at the Whistle Stop Diner
Decorating cookies

Wounded, Ill, and Injured Compensation and Benefits Handbook

DoD Releases Updated Compensation and Benefits Handbook to Assist Wounded, Ill and Injured Service Members and Their Families


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