grateful

May… the Busiest Month of the Year?

May… the Busiest Month of the Year?

By Richard Reignier

VA Medical Center — St. Cloud, MN

I think that May is probably the busiest month of the year. Consider these things:

  •  The mothers are thinking about and looking forward to Mother’s Day.
  •  The fathers are thinking about the fishing opener.
  •  The tomato and flower plants are on the porch or in the garage.
  •  There are graduation and confirmation parties to attend.
  •  There are also birthday parties and many weddings.
  •  Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer.
  •  Grandmas and grandpas look forward to these times when families get together.
  •  We go to these affairs because we want the joy of seeing friends and relatives again.
  •  Bill Gather wrote a song that begins like this, “Precious memories how they linger, how they ever touch my soul.”
  •  The blessings of God upon these activities make them times to remember.

In the Old Testament during one of David’s down times, we read in I Samuel 30:6, “David strengthened himself in the Lord, his God.”

As we begin a new year, we need to figure out how we can strengthen, encourage and refresh ourselves in the Lord. When we are discouraged

what can we do? First, we can remember what God has done for us. List the ways he has cared for you in the past. My guess is that the list will

be rather long. Include answers to prayer. Second, remember what God has promised. Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and of good courage…for the

Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This new year, let’s learn to strengthen ourselves in the Lord and then let’s leave the rest with Him.

VAMC Gives Hope

VAMC Gives Hope

 By Linda Oliver

VA Medical Center —Orlando, FL

 

In May of 2010, I was involved in a terrible auto accident caused by a drunk driver. My condition required hospitalization for several months, as I experienced massive injuries to my legs, especially my left leg.

Since the accident, I have been unable to walk.  Although I am not paralyzed, I have been in a wheelchair ever since. I still have tremendous pain in my legs; however, with the help of my caseworker, I have been able to continue my rehabilitation at the Orlando VAMC where I was admitted in January of 2012.

I wanted to say that since my admittance at the VAMC, I have had nothing but a positive experience. I have found the staff to be friendly and supportive in their endeavors to help me improve my medical condition. Through rehabilitation, my pain is more tolerable. Additionally, I feel more spiritually inclined. You have to understand that when you experience such a traumatic injury, there is a period of time when you feel as if no one can help you turn your life around up until my admittance at the Orlando VAMC, I was extremely depressed and discouraged.

However, the staff here has given me hope and improved my physical condition.  I will go home soon but plan to continue with rehabilitation. The good news is that my rehab sessions will be held at the VAMC, which gives me hope for a complete recovery over time.

Hooray, Veterans’ Voices Magazines

Hooray, Veterans’ Voices Magazines

VA Medical Center – Richmond, VA

By Michael Harrod

”Hooray” is the closest spelling I can come to for ”Ooh-rah” in the English dictionary. The term ”Ooh-rah” is not even listed in this dictionary I have on my shelf, so I apologize: I don’t know how to spell the word. Obviously, as I write this article, a Marine is not handy to assist me with my spelling. I know ”Hooray,” an expression of joy, is not what the Marines had in mind when they invented the word ”Ooh-rah,” but it’s close enough to ”affirmative” or ”you got that right” for the purposes of this article.

What I mean to say is: ”good going” Veterans’ Voices magazine. This magazine has been a great help to me personally and to others as well. Writing for the magazine helped me work through my problems. Many a night I have awakened between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. with the problems of my world sitting squarely on my shoulders. I would think of suicide for a few minutes, and then, I would turn to my word processor or my computer and work on a story for Veterans’ Voices. If I wasn’t sure what to write about, I would read from Veterans’ Voices until an idea hit me. If I drew a blank for a story or article idea, I would instead work on ideas for raising money for the magazine. When people talk about writing as a therapeutic outlet for the mind, I think back to those many nights of darkness and despair that I went through. I wonder what would have happened if it weren’t for the magazine and the creative outlet it offered me during the middle of those horrible nights. I think about the guys coming back from war these days and the problems they must have on their minds and in their guts. Why is the suicide rate so high for our returning military these days? Thoughts of suicide or just thinking a suicidal thought is nothing for the living to be ashamed of, and the dead don’t feel guilty. Maybe the solution is to write about those feeling instead of acting on them in a shameful way. After all, one of the purposes of this magazine is to give a veterans a voice, don’t you think?

I wish for a time when Veterans’ Voices will go out to many more veterans to let them know we are thinking of them. If the magazine could afford to publish more magazines, maybe the returning veterans could know that we are interested in their stories. Support Veterans’ Voices magazine by spreading the word and encouraging others to subscribe today, or think of a way to look for new donors that can help support the magazine’s efforts.

What Veterans’ Voices Gives to Me

 

What Veterans’ Voices Gives to Me

 

By Tim Segrest

VA Medical Center — Albuquerque, NM

 

I was asked to write about something that I, surprisingly, hadn’t really thought much about. I was asked how sharing my writings with you, my reader, helps me. Well, I have to be honest when I say that I really write for my own therapy.

I did this for several years before even considering submitting any of my work to be published or read aloud by another soul. I never wrote a thing until 2003, and I had my first poem published around 2006, I think, in “A Surrender to Other Moon” poetry collection book.

And while I still write for my own therapy, I have found sharing does fulfill a kind of void for me. It’s kind of like the phrase, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” You see, my life in the military was focused on a few things. Aside from the obvious, protecting this country’s great freedom, it was also to help, protect, and free others from oppression. I believe no man, or nation, has the right to commit crimes against humanity, such as genocide. Therefore, helping others makes me, as an individual, feel good in doing what I think is right. It is within this feeling that helps me share my work.

The very idea of someone reading it and realizing they are not alone, finding comfort in knowing there are others, such as myself, who shared in the same horrors of war. I guess one of my goals in sharing is showing that a person can find peace, like I have in my writing and sharing. The sad fact that I have myself attempted suicide is proof that

writing works. So, as I share my work, I pray that I have given strength to someone else to help them carry on. And I get the satisfaction that I believe I have. I’ll never actually, truly ever, most likely, never know for sure, but my heart says I have…and if I have helped just one person, well, that is enough for me to be satisfied with my writing. I urge people to press on through the hardest of times. I have been told by a few people that they started writing because of something I wrote.

So, to bring everything to a simple, yet strong statement, I guess I’ll have to say that helping others helps me. This is what sharing through Veterans’ Voices has done for me: I’ve received the gratification, the feeling of helping others, and fulfillment of a void, where I really feel good about a great number of things. After all, it’s been said that the pen is mightier than the sword, or the sniper rifle in my case.

Writing Aide: Phyllis Bibeau

Typist: Jane Harvey

Thanksgiving Dinner

By Joseph W. Krawczyk

VA Medical Center- ST. Louis, Mo

 

I believe the year was 1998. My mother was terminally

ill, and I was taking care of her. My cousin, brother

and his wife were the only family left. We were not as

close as we used to be. However, that year, we all had

Thanksgiving dinner together. My brother and his wife

prepared the dinner, and Cousin Jerry also brought some

fantastic desserts.

 

We were so glad to see each other in one place,

together again like old times. We never said a word about

how seldom we saw each other but we were reassured

By the fact that we loved each other, no matter what. we

talked so much; we talked our way through dinner. We

also prayed in Thanksgiving for all we had meant to each

other. God bless that day. It was important to all of us; it

was soon after that, my mother passed away.

Writing Aides: Jacque Burgess
Liz Rice-Sosne
Typist: Nancy S. Dunn