color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: June 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

From the Frontlines: REALLY Supporting Our Troops

Congress should definitely take note as to where Americans' hearts are... and to those of you who gave --


They were trying to raise $500,000... from Michelle Malkin's site:

Update: Midnight $1,055,719!!!!!!

I repeat...


Boldly borrowed from the beautiful and talented Mrs. Greyhawk over at
Mudville Gazette and Milblogs

From the Frontlines airs today!
[Mrs Greyhawk]


An 8-hour pro-troop web-a-thon. This broadcast is to support the push to send the largest single shipment of care packages to U.S. troops in history. "From the Front Lines" will be co-hosted by MAF's Melanie Morgan and's Michelle Malkin and feature some of the biggest patriotic leaders of our time.

Goes live on Ustream.TV at 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific. Free .TV show from Ustream

Michelle Malkin:

I’ll be in beautiful Mountain View, CA all day today for “From the Frontlines,” our ground-breaking web-a-thon for the troops. Move America Forward’s Melanie Morgan and I will go live on Ustream.TV and right here at (as well as at at 4pm Eastern/1pm Pacific. (Just hit the play button on the embedded video player above when showtime arrives; if you’d like to join the live chatroom, make sure to register at UStream beforehand!) I’ll be updating this post all day as I liveblog the event from UStream’s studios. Thanks to all our fellow bloggers who’ve helped spread the word!

We’ve got a star-studded line-up of troops, military charities, celebs, and talk radio stars — from Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin to Dr. Laura and Laura Ingraham to musician John Ondrasik and “Lone Survivor” author and Navy SEAL hero Marcus Luttrell — who’ll be joining us in our eight-hour marathon fund-raising drive to help send the largest number of care packages in history to our men and women in uniform serving overseas.

You can sponsor a care package right here, with items ranging from $15.99 to $899.99. Let me know what you picked out (leave it in in comments or e-mail me) so I can keep a running tally.

Video messages [from frontline soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, etc.] can be sent to Danny Gonzalez, Communications Director at Move America Forward. Contact Danny at:

Complete information on "From the Front Lines" can be found at:

And - get those video messages emailed to Danny Gonzalez ASAP!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear Alex's Mom

I suppose by now most of you have seen this truly stupid ad from -- funded by the financial speculator (wonder if he's making any money these days on gasoline and oil futures??) and stock investor, George Soros... in which the "mom" says to John McCain that if he plans to stay in Iraq for 100 years was he counting on Alex 'cause he can't have him...

As I have said before and on a number of occasions to mothers and fathers who think only they can know what their children want or what is best for them when they are grown: It's not about you... and it's not (or won't be) your decision.

I'd also like to tell and those idiots who buy into that crap that as a Blue Star Mom AND as the mother of two veterans (one combat wounded) AND as the wife of a retired career military man, I am heartily offended that you believe that somehow Alex's mom -- as a mother who would do everything to keep her child from military service -- loves her child more than I do. I have news for all of you: BECAUSE my children serve, I love them MORE! As I have also said many, many times: you will find no one who hates war or armed conflict more than the parents of those who serve... or a group who wishes for peace more than we do.

I have to wonder: can anyone be so politically and geopolitically naive to believe that her child has been born into a world without enemies and despots and fanatics so that we won't need a military by the time her son is grown? That type of attitude would certainly make me vote for the OTHER candidate 'cause that type of naiveté will get little Alex blown to smithereens in his own home (or office).

Next, I suppose it's OK for Alex to be living in a world where he can try all the new foods he wants and chase the family dog but someone else defends it for him?? Yeah, I know your type.

Now, let's correct the record on what John McCain actually said: He said an American presence in Iraq could last 100 years -- just as we have been in Korea for 50 years, Japan and Germany for 60 years -- he said "so long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed." He did not say we would be at war for 100 years... he said it would be OK if we had a presence in the volatile region for 50 or 100 years.

As for me, I think that's right -- the need for a presence in the area -- 'cause if we leave, and Iran continues its designs on empire or other violent and insane groups get control, little Alex won't have a choice but to "go back"... that is, if some fanatic hasn't already taken care of Alex's choices for him (I mean, other than his mom.)

Next, this woman and the brain trust at MoveOn have forgotten: we have an ALL VOLUNTEER military. If Alex doesn't want to serve (or is too whipped by his mommy to raise his hand) when he turns 18 (or later in life if he so desires), so be it. Right now, seven out of ten Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 can't even qualify for enlistment in the services -- and I suspect that Alex's mother will be sure he is one of them.

We have three sons... all of whom chose -- VOLUNTEERED -- to serve. We couldn't be one bit prouder of their decisions. But let's be clear: it was their decision. We spoke at length with each of our sons when they talked of enlisting (two during high school and one during college). We suggested to each that if they were serious about a career in the military that they consider attending one of the military academies... go ROTC... get their college degree first... but we failed to convince any of them. Unlike Alex's mom (and the jokers at MoveOn) who apparently objects to military service in general, it wasn't that we objected to a military career or service, but we didn't want them to exclude other options. We saw it as our duty as parents to help them explore ALL their options -- not just the ones we would choose. We raised thinking, caring individuals and we made sure they had all the information they needed to decide. We let them make up their own minds... something little Alex isn't apparently going to get the chance to do. As for us, we hope our first grandchild (who looks to be about the same age as Alex) doesn't "have to go" either, but we'll let him decide.

So, to Alex's mom (and those who promote that ad and its ideology and those who think it's "hard hitting"), I suggest you read for a while at Why We Serve. And pull that ad... it only makes me feel sorry for little Alex.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life After... There Is...

Every once in a while, I get Noah's permission to post an update on his progress... and I apologize to those of you who have read my blog long enough to remember when Noah was wounded and how we (all) worried... and the people like Mr./Mrs. Greyhawk and MaryAnn and Soldiers Angels who helped us through that initial horror... and y'all want to know how it's going...

So here's the most recent chapter...

Noah arrived home last August and he immediately reported to the VA Medical Center and began the process of multiple physical and psychological evaluations. His inclusion in the VA's Priority Group 1 assured that his physical evaluations were conducted promptly, as were follow up testing such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs. As a result of the lack of psychiatrists and psychologists, his mental health evaluation occurred exactly on the last day possible -- the 30th day. While there is still one "I don't care what you've done for your country or how far you have to travel or how often, this is just a job to me" idiot woman who makes Noah's appointments at the regional medical center two hours away, Noah has received the best and most compassionate care and attention from all the people he has dealt with at the VA.

Frankly, there were no surprises in the findings of these evaluations although there was (is) a great deal of being pissed off on his Dad's and my part that the percentage of disability findings by the VA was so significantly higher than what the Army determined. The [old] Army system of rating disabilities should have been rectified for all the soldiers who were dishonored by the way they were treated by the Army (and Marines, Navy & Air Force, if that's the case). [The Army now only makes the "meets/does not meet retention standards determination; the VA now makes the disability percentage determination -- the Army is out of that business... something they just didn't do well.]

What really sticks in my craw about this is that the Army's determinations adversely affected the lives of many, many thousands of soldiers who were wounded or injured in service to their country: it took money from their pockets (starting them off behind the 8-ball), denied them disability retirement (that they earned the HARDest way), terminated their health insurance for them and their families -- all by giving artificially suppressed disability percentages.

And Congress - that "august" and detestable legislative body -- refused to remedy the injustice foist on these soldiers. While people like Murtha, Reid & Pelosi could find $13.7 million for museums -- including, appropriately, one to jackasses -- they couldn't find an additional $2 million so that soldiers' repayment to the Army of their disability severance payments could stop??? There are still thousands of disabled soldiers medically discharged from the services prior to January 1, 2008 who are still having 1/2 of their VA disability payments taken for these repayments to the Army. Shameful! Infuriatingly Shameful!

Back to Noah. Talk about hitting the ground running: he began college classes three days after his arrival here -- pursuing a degree in Fire Sciences. By Christmas, he was certified as an EMT (that's mandatory for fire departments here in AZ.. and many other western states). He recently received his test scores for Firefighting 1&2 (classroom and practical) and has received his certification!! In between these two sets of intense training, he became a Dad... probably not the first or last guy studying through the night in between diaper changes and baby bottles...

Over his spring "break" he attended the Arizona Wildfire Academy -- AT HIS OWN EXPENSE (well Dad's and my expense) BECAUSE THE GI BILL DIDN'T COVER THIS TRAINING. (More on the problems of GI Bill administration in a minute...)

With the break in classes for the summer, Noah accepted a temporary position as a Firefighter for the National Forest Service. Unfortunately, this means that Noah, who is a assigned to a fire engine company further north in Arizona, is away at least six days a week... sometimes seven depending on the pace of training and whether they are actively engaged in firefighting. For the moment, they spend a large portion of their time chasing down and exterminating illegal camp fires in the millions of acres of National Forest.

Now, for the GI Bill. First, every college should actually be sure that the person they designate the "Veterans' Liaison" or "Veterans' Coordinator" actually has some friggin' clue what the GI Bill covers, what documentation is required, and the benefits available. Noah has wasted more time "schooling" his college's coordinator in benefits. The guy didn't have any clue what a "kicker" is (this is the additional level of educational benefits "purchased" and contained in enlistment contracts), and he assured Noah the costs of the Wildlfire Academy would be covered: it wasn't... no college credit hours & no "certification" (see next paragraph) = no money.

For those not familiar, the GI bill provides (or is supposed to provide) -- among other things -- up to 36 months of education benefits to eligible veterans for college, technical or vocational courses,
and other job training. If you are being trained on the job, you should be eligible to get GI Bill benefits during the training to supplement meager apprenticeship training wages. States are responsible for certifying schools and employer-sponsored apprenticeship programs in their states as meeting the VA standards and such... but no one seems to know how to get a FEDERAL program certified!! Noah has diligently been trying to get the the VA to certify the firefighting positions with the U.S. [National] Forest Service (actually, it's under the U.S. Department of Agriculture) as on-the-job training... and the paperwork is stupefying! And it can take UP TO SIX MONTHS to get the certification.

Now I understand some of the fly-by-night "schools" that have, in the past, duped veterans
of their benefits and the VA of funds for legitimate training programs: BUT THIS IS TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT WITH A FEDERAL AGENCY. Have you seen the news on California wildfires?? And the predictions for Arizona wildfires?? And the concern about vacancy levels?

And, of course, there are hundreds of vacant positions for the National Forest Service and other Federal agencies involving firefighting and fire suppression. Do you think this might be one of those "win-win" (dang, I hate that phrase) situations? Allow veterans to apply for jobs and acquire skills that serve the public welfare and safety AND that permits the Forest Services and other Federal land agencies (Bureau of Land Management, Park Service, etc.??) to fill open positions?? Where are the people at the Veterans Administration working at this? Or the Agriculture Department? Or even some of the Veterans organizations??

I'm certain there are other Federal jobs that could also be certified as training programs -- medical personnel? VA counselors? Seriously, the process for certifying these programs needs to be modernized and streamlined. There needs to be one place to get answers... it wasn't until Noah had the local Veterans Center call all their contacts at the VA in Washington and the regional office to find out how this happened from the VA side... the Veterans' liaison in Senator Kyl's office was helpful in getting Noah in touch with the people at USDA -- although it took too long to get a response from USDA and the response wasn't exactly on point... and the people at the NFS seem/seemed reluctant to designate the firefighter positions as apprenticeship slots... but unless you can walk into the jobs and do the job without hands on training, it should be a no brainer.

On the personal side, Noah is organizing his life as a single Dad... Physically, he has plateaued -- neither worse nor better... every once in a while a piece of shrapnel still works its way out of his scalp but the stuff in his chest remains... his knee gets sore now and again and the sciatica occasionally flares up although the episodes are less frequent. He continues his counseling for his PTSD -- now he and his counselor talk by phone since he can't get in for appointments right now.

So that's all the news... so far. Well, except for this little guy... who just gets more handsome every day!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008


I've been thinking about Fathers Day. I had been contemplating a post -- this being Noah's first Father's Day and all -- however, the death of Tim Russert whom I admired for his role as a son and a father spurred me to action. I was always touched by his clear and heartfelt feelings whenever he spoke about "Big Russ" or his son, Luke. It reminded me so very much of my own Dear Husband who feels the sadness of his own father's passing 13 years later, and the love and affection he displays when talking of his own sons and daughter. In fact, it got me to recalling how when I asked him early in our relationship how he wanted to be remembered in this life, he said he wanted to be remembered as a good son, a good husband, good brother... but mostly he wanted to be remembered for being a good father. (He is. He will... on all counts.) His gentle but firm hand, his caring, the love for his children that shines from his heart and his eyes and lives in his soul are just a few of the reasons I so love this man.

My own father was not a role model for fatherhood. He began drinking early in his life and it only escalated after he lost his left arm above the elbow while serving in the US Army. After his Army service and my parents' marriage, he obtained his bachelor's degree in two years (courtesy of proficiency exams and the GI Bill), passed the accountant's examination on his first try which resulted in his footing on a path to a partnership at a Big 8 accounting firm. Within five years of their marriage, they were parents to seven children (four of us came in two pairs 51 weeks apart ;-)

His continuing alcoholism contributed to spousal and child abuse, the crumbling of both his marriage and his career and, ultimately, led to his death at the age of 49. When my parents divorced, my father abandoned his children -- physically, emotionally and financially. Until I saw my father in his casket when I was 22, I had not seen or spoken to him since I was 12 when I accidentally bumped into him with his new wife on a Chicago street. The best I can recall , the time before that in which I had any meaningful interaction with him (as parent and child) I might have been 8 or 9. My father's mental capacity at the time of his death was so diminished from his abuse of alcohol that he could not remember the names of his children.

Still, I forgave my father many, many years ago after accepting that much of his behavior was attributable to the ravages of alcoholism and, after becoming a parent myself, I realized all he had done probably hurt him more than it could ever have hurt me. A few of my siblings wondered -- other than the abject poverty he forced the family into -- whether it had actually been a good thing he left because we never had to endure the push-pull, mom's side-dad's side, choose sides, every other weekend stuff that so many other children have complained. Even to this day I'm not sure whether his leaving was a good thing... 40 years later attending the high school's father-daughter dance with my best friend and her Dad still stings.

I tell you all this not for sympathy, but to give you an idea why I consider just how good a father a man is directly and significantly impacts my estimation of the worth of a man. You can be all things to all other people, but you are worthless unless you fulfill your responsibilities as a father to the very best of your ability.

My DH thinks of our children every single day. He/we speak of them -- their lives, their current situations (jobs, health, girlfriends, children, career paths, etc.), how much we miss them -- every single day. We speak to the youngest of our children the most frequently -- mostly because geographically they are here but also because they still count on us more than the older ones for guidance and assistance. But we still have long discussions with the older ones -- what medical specialties are now off "the list" of fourth year study (CONGRATS, H!! 3 years down -- one to go, sweet girl!!) , what duty assignments are available for the sailor's next rotation, what the civilian sector looks like at the moment and what his Dad thinks about extending his contract or not (that's always a tough conversation for a career-Navy guy). We try to stay involved in our children's lives without being too involved in their lives (if you know what I mean.)

Since he PSC'd (permanent change of station) from the Air Force base in a neighboring state to the east coast a few years ago (and his near-constant deployment tempo), we do not get much of a chance to see the oldest son be Dad to his two young stepdaughters. However, we will tell you (based on their visits here and our telephone conversations) that he is a devoted and loving father with a "nothing is off-limits" attitude in terms of parental responsibility when it comes to his girls: storytelling, piggyback rides, homework, breakfast, lunches, tennis lessons, bedtime stories... He's game. He is an excellent and loving Dad who gets a kick out of Ashley and Avery.

We get a ton of chances to see Noah in action as a Dad to his 6 month old son, Thomas. Noah is a caring, devoted, loving and affectionate Dad to his son. He has assumed the role of being a young single Dad with all the tenacity required. While Noah is currently away much of the time as a wildland firefighter (more on that in a "Noah Update" coming soon), he researched and found fabulous child care for Tommy, takes Thomas to his monthly medical checkups, bathes him, changes diapers, makes bottles, gets up for middle of the night feedings (and has since his birth). He plays with him, makes him laugh, comforts his tears and frets about Tommy's health and safety. When Noah is not away at work, he and Thomas live with us. Big Papa (that would be the DH) and YaYa (that would be me), care for Thomas whenever other baby care is unavailable (some evenings and some weekends). I get the biggest chuckles when Thomas is suspended like a little space alien wrapped in a Snuggli on Big Papa's chest while they check out the flowers in the garden, the birds at the feeders, while doing dishes or just taking a walk. As a result of the hands on love from his Dad and his grandpa, Thomas is probably the happiest baby on God's Earth... because he knows he is loved and that he is safe.

So, to my DH, to Jas and to Noah
(and to Greyhawk, B5, Uncle Jimbo, Soldier's Dad, Dadmanly, Hook, Taco, JP, Roggio, Doc, Jack Army (just to name a few!)

You Guys Rock!

May this be your best Father's Day ever (until the next)!!


Friday, June 13, 2008

June 14, 2008: FLAG DAY 2008

at our home in AZ

at our home in NY

at our home in NY

this image says it all...

this image inspired us... and gave us hope...

But no image of the flag -- encompassing its meaning and our heartfelt appreciation for the sacrifices made -- will ever mean more to us than these

from the funeral of Noah's friend Tommy Byrd (KIA, Ramadi, Iraq, October 2005)


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Monday, June 02, 2008


My dear friend and fellow milmom and milblogger Stacy called to say that she received a text from ArmyWifeToddlerMom... ADub had just closed the sale of their home in Arkansas when she received the news that her Dad was in ICU in Nebraska. She says it is his heart. She and the kids are headed that way now, so please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.