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.
Watching people teaches me a lot. When you look at people, you can tell if they have cares on their minds. People have many things that worry them I figure if
it is going to happen, it will just happen. When you’re worried, you need to read the 14th Chapter of John in the Bible.
” Some of the smartest people never went to college.”
Education is great, but life is more than schooling. People need the wisdom that comes from common sense, mother wit.
When you talk to people, think before you speak. Would what you are about to say hurt you? If so, rethink what you are going to say. Be kind and thoughtful. How
you say the words is also important. Why did we need to be the first country to reach the moon? We can’t get along here on earth. Why would we be able to get along better on the moon?
Do you have a problem? If so, you have to get to the root of the problem and get it out, like pulling up a tree trunk. If you don’t, it will spring up somewhere else. How do you know what you are doing is right? You have to first get right with God. God will show you the right thing to do.
At funerals, why do preachers preach about the dead? Whatever you say about the dead makes no difference to them now. Preach to the living; it may be the only time they hear about God.
The hardest thing in life to say is, “I have done wrong.”
I was raised in Leavenworth, Kan., but I was living in Columbus, Ga. One spring, a friend and I went to Ft. Benning in observance of Armed Forces Day. It just happened that I had on a large Stetson. One of the vendors noticed it and yelled “Hey dude! Where you from? Texas?”
“Naw,” I said, “I’m from Kansas.”
Then, the vendor said,” “Oh, I know somebody from Kansas; maybe you might know her. Her name is Dorothy.”
I thought of all the Dorothys’ I knew. “Was it this one or that one?” I asked myself.
“Naw.” The vendor said, “She had a little dog.” So now I thought of all the Dorothys
with dogs, still to no avail. “Her dog’s name was Toto,” added the vendor.
H-m-m-m-m: Dorothy, Toto.
“A-w-w-w-w-h.” I finally got the joke.
By now a crowd had gathered. They all had a good laugh, as did I. The vendor gave me free beer the rest of the day.
”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.
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.
The first time I can remember being published in Veterans’ Voices was while I lived in the Atlanta area. The inspired poem was titled, “In the Morning.” It was a time of struggling and suffering, yet the Holy Spirit birthed it through me.
My first health challenge—the horrible mental illness called schizophrenia—was present in me. Then, as if I’d slept for a period of time, the poetry came bursting loose. I’d ever heard of the disease before it surfaced in my life as fear, madness and the onset of uncertainty. As a child and teen, I sometimes would write. I used writing as a channel for the good part of my brain. I also used it to help encourage and bless others. Veterans’ Voices was and is ideal…a great means to get published. The life-long challenge of schizophrenia really baffles me, yet I know hope. Writing gives me a chance for freedom of expression—to write about the part of myself that I like. Writing is such a joy, yet I’ve learned I can write about many diverse things and occurrences.
Veterans’ Voices is great for veteran patients. We, the suffering, can share with others our joys, our struggles as well as various triumphs and victories. Creativity is a wonderful thing. Veterans’ Voices has been there for me since 1985. I am honored to have had poetry, prose and a few drawings published. I appreciate this outlet and channel for the various subjects I’ve pursued. The magazine is great therapy for us. Whether we are happy, sad or dealing with fears, emotional scars or discrimination, writing allows us to express ourselves. I feel as if Veterans’ Voices has many writers who can top my talents, but I’m always thankful for an opportunity to express myself in between the stressors of medical and physical disabilities. It is exciting to receive the magazine in the mail. Yet, I know not what emotions will explode inside me since it captures many journeys through others’ experiences. I appreciate being connected with other veterans. It’s an honor to be among a cadre of published writers. It’s an honor to have someone look beyond my illness and see a creative spirit. I am grateful to Veterans’ Voices, God, the veterans, the staff and the volunteers for allowing time to pass, for understanding my rants, and helping me capture my thoughts and jot them down in poetry and prose.
I suffer with things other than the schizophrenia that could have taken my very life. The magazine has sustained me during many hardships and joys. I am so proud to be an American, who happens to be disabled, living in one wonderful country as a member of the veterans’ family. I’ve saved copies of the magazine throughout the years and I see myself in other people’s work. The gratitude is endless. I’ve been ill for the last two years and it was an effort to write this but now a great weight has been lifted. That monster, schizophrenia, is a slave master, holding me captive. But, the Bible says there is a higher power, greater than all my diseases, who cares for me. Veterans’ Voices remains a source of ministry for sharing and blessing others. Veterans’ Voices is a mirror.
My HealtheVet is the VAMC program I value most, and I’ve been a VA patient since November 1967. The Secure Messaging feature is the one place I turn to again and again.
Dr. Michael J. Kilfoyle of the Silver Team at the Boise VA Department of Veterans Affairs has made me a believer in the service. He is one in a million and responds quickly to my needs. I can tell him anything, even when I get upset with a private sector specialist and do a stupid thing like going off all my medications at once.
Dr. Kilfoyle listens to my concerns and tells me that he is sorry to see me in such distress and then gives me a little pep talk about not cutting my nose off to spite my face. I don’t know about the costs of administering the My HealtheVet program. I hope it saves money because it’s an efficient way for patients to quickly address health concerns. Physician appointments can be difficult to schedule and sometimes they have to be set for months down the road.
My HealtheVet gives quick access and probably cuts down on emergency room visits. I recommend giving it a try! ■
Editor’s Note: My Healthe Vet is the VA’s e-health web site, which offers veterans, active duty soldiers, their dependents and caregivers internet access to VA healthcare information and services. Registering and using my HealtheVet is free. Visit your local VAMC web site or go to www.myhealth.va.gov to learn more.
Saturday, Nov. 12th, 2016, 2-4pm, at the World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo Register today! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/annual-veterans-voices-pen-celebration-tickets-27911438865 Please join us for The Annual Veterans’ Pen Celebration, and our keynote speaker Lou Eisenbrandt. Lou Eisenbrandt is a Veteran and Author of “Vietnam Nurse: Mending and Remembering”. About our Speaker – Lou Eisenbrandt Growing up in a small Illinois(…)
Veterans Voices is excited to celebrate 70 years of providing therapeutic writing to veterans! Watch both here and on Facebook for the various ways we’ll be celebrating this year. Join with us and share with fellow veterans, friends and family.
2013 Veterans Pen Celebration View Event Photos Saturday, November 2, 2013 2 – 4 p.m. Location: National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial 100 W. 26th St., Kansas City, MO Highlights: Premiere of the VVWP DVD “Veterans’ Voices…. Alive and Well” Featuring Veterans’ Voices authors & writing aides Writing Aide Phyllis Bibeau, Albuquerque VAMC & Volunteers of VVWP(…)
Deann Shinkle Mitchell, Vice President, VVWP and Deb Lilla, Marketing Committee Chair, discuss the Veterans Voices Writing Project (VVWP) that utilizes therapeutic writing to rehabilitate veterans on August 12, 2015. Listen here
by Dorothy Remo VA Media Center, San Antonio, TX Typist: Lee Torres What is it like to think you might be crazy or acting crazy when nothing is certain? Everything has turned so different. I’m looking at my world from a distant place where I’m not participating, no interacting. My thoughts have blown up–they(…)
by Paul Wilkison Every civilization Contains within Itself two types Of seeds: At the beginning, Seeds of greatness. At the end, Sees of destruction. VAMC, Albuquerque, NM Writing Ade: Phyllis Bibeau Typist: Jane Harvey
Radio interview with Veterans’ Voices Editor in Chief, Margaret Clark, as KMBC’s Person of the Week for April 13, 2015. Hear some fantastic stories of the impact Veterans’ Voices has had on healing veterans from the hidden wounds of war. You won’t want to miss this!!