Military Wife’s Life – It Ain’t Easy!

 By Al Detres  

Military Wife's Life  Al Detres Shining Service Worldwide Talk about complicated! Whether in the military or married to a military guy, the life of a military wife has to be one of the most challenging tasks known to humanity. Between moving from one base to another to being alone for months at a time during deployment to never knowing what the next day will bring, the life of a military wife is not one for the faint of heart. This life is one for women of great faith. 

There is a story of two great women of faith in the Old Testament, Deborah a prophetess forIsraeland Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. According to Judges chapter 4, These women had it going on! Deborah was such a great leader that Barak, commander of the Israeli army, refused to go into battle against the enemy commander Sisera’s army without her. She agreed, but told Barak that a woman would get the credit for the victory if she went. 

Barak agreed and when the Israeli army routed the enemy army, Sisera ran to the tent where Jael and her family lived. Jael lured Sisera into her tent, covered him, gave him milk to drink and let him fall asleep. Once he was asleep, she drove a tent stake though his skull and killed him. This act of heroism brought about a huge victory forIsraeland both women got the credit for the military victory. 

What does this have to do with being a military wife in the 21st century? Women have always been called into countless scenarios that require courage and sound thinking. Military wives need to keep their minds focused on what is true and real this day, knowing that God is in control of their lives and the lives of their husbands and families. Worry is not an option.

Al Detres is a father of four and a Christian Minister in Oregon.  He has a son currently serving in the US Army.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

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Personality Disorder – Army’s Badge Of Dishonor

by Linda Franklin

Personality Disorder Badde of Dishonor - Linda Franklin Shining Service Worldwide The New York Times printed an article this morning on ‘Personality Disorder’ and what it means when the army decides you have it.  It’s an eye-opening read and it should be read in it’s entirely, but here’s a brief synopsis.

Capt. Susan Carlson was not a typical recruit when she volunteered for the Army in 2006 at the age of 50. But the Army desperately needed behavioral health professionals like her, so it signed her up.

Though she was, by her own account, “not a strong soldier,” she received excellent job reviews at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she counseled prisoners. But last year, Captain Carlson, a social worker, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard and everything fell apart.

After a soldier complained that she had made sexually suggestive remarks, she was suspended from her counseling duties and sent to an Army psychiatrist for evaluation. His findings were shattering: She had, he said in a report, a personality disorder, a diagnosis that the military has used to discharge thousands of troops. She was sent home.

She disputed the diagnosis, but it was not until months later that she found what seemed powerful ammunition buried in her medical file, portions of which she provided to The New York Times. “Her command specifically asks for a diagnosis of a personality disorder,” a document signed by the psychiatrist said.

Veterans’ advocates say Captain Carlson stumbled upon evidence of something they had long suspected but had struggled to prove: that military commanders pressure clinicians to issue unwarranted psychiatric diagnoses to get rid of troops.

“Since 2001, the military has discharged at least 31,000 service members because of personality disorder, a family of disorders broadly characterized by inflexible “maladaptive” behavior that can impair performance and relationships.

For years, veterans’ advocates have said that the Pentagon uses the diagnosis to discharge troops because it considers them troublesome or wants to avoid giving them benefits for service-connected injuries. The military considers personality disorder a pre-existing problem that emerges in youth, and as a result, troops given the diagnosis are often administratively discharged without military retirement pay. Some have even been required to repay enlistment bonuses.

By comparison, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is usually linked to military service and leads to a medical discharge accompanied by certain benefits.

Though it is impossible to know how many veterans are disputing their personality disorder discharges, Vietnam Veterans of America, an advocacy group, with help from the Yale veterans legal clinic, has sued the Defense Department seeking records they say will show that thousands of troops have been unfairly discharged for personality or adjustment disorder since 2001.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

Life Leadership: Innocence Lost and Found

Life Leadership - Innocence Lost and Found Sandra Beck Shining Service WorldwideBy Sandra Beck 

One of the things I know about life is that over time we lose our innocence – especially after traumatic events or situations such as deployment or loss.  It’s like you come back and you are in a plastic box where the whole world continues around you but you just observe it from inside that little bubble. You can feel completely detached and separate from the emotions, but little by little you start coming back.
This is where and when you have to really take stock of your experience and make a decision. Do you want that experience to make you hard, impenetrable, and unreachable? Do you want to take that experience and process it with a friend or professional and let it become the fabric of your life but not your whole life? 

I vote for the latter. When I came out of my own darkness I made a choice not to be bitter, angry, and a fortress that kept everyone away. It was a choice and something that would have been very easy to do. But I didn’t and as a result found a very rich and fulfilling life.  It could have easily gone the other way if I let it. I’m not saying that I don’t have bitter, angry feelings from time to time – but I have made a conscious effort to let them go and return to my original state of innocence where the world is a bright shiny place to explore. 

Sandra Beck is the host of Military Mom Talk Radio and the single mother of two boys ages 5 and 8. She is an author, internet brand strategist. She has worked with the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Army for over 20 years and is passionate about helping women lead their families successfully the specific challenges of military life.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

Veterans Living with Post Traumatic Stress

Veterans Living with Post Traumatic Stress Fuzzy Manning Shining Service Worldwide 

by Fuzzy Manning

Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) is an agonizing pain that wears away at you, dulls your senses, and changes your reality. Constant dull pain has a detrimental effect on your daily life, relationships, your job, and family. You do not realize the toll it takes on your physical, mental, and emotional health until a family member or friend tells you. By then your behavior and mannerisms have already shifted. When you begin to see the following things occur within your life, you need to take action to turn them around: 

  • Chronic depression
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Scheduled isolation
  • Anger and raging 

Turning your life or pain story around is about breaking the cycle of suppressing your pain. Your pain won’t go away or lessen if you avoid it. Your pain will grow in intensity and aggressively drain more energy. This leads to spinning your life out of control and using depression, over eating, excessive sleep, anger, or isolation to numb the pain instead of dealing with your pain story. You can’t turn your life around until you’re able to turn your pain story around. Your pain story is who you have become. How often do you use depression, addictions, rage, or avoidance to suppress the pain with your story? Is it effective? 

You may make inappropriate choices because of lack of information while you attempt to resolve your PTS. Some choices you make could be due to not knowing how to start the process, accepting that there is no easy solution to your problem, not asking for alternative help early on, or not understanding that some of the answers are within you. We as a nation are faced with a PTS crisis effecting over 17% (53 Million) of theUSpopulation. PTS creates invisible wounds and broken hearts. There are no quick fixes and there are no external wounds that indicate closure and healing. This is a process that takes time, patience, understanding, compassion, and love. 

This is where the rubber hits the road. Allopathic medicine, insurance companies, and the Veteran Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) are unable and unwilling to deliver a solution. What they offer is: 

  • Prequalification and testing to be treated
  • Clinical therapy with conditions
  • Prescription drugs: antidepressants & pain pills
  • X-Rays, CT Scans, MRI’s, Radiation, or Surgery
  • Conditional treatment of veterans and active duty personnel 

If you do not meet their qualifications your treatment is denied. Also, if you desire treatment other than clinical therapy, surgery, or drugs treatment is denied. If you believe that you can wait for the government, allopathic medicine, drug manufactures, and the insurance industry to do the right thing, they won’t. Even though you put on the uniform and placed your life on the line and now want them to treat your PTS, they are unable to. PTS is a family issue that is resolved through alternative therapy and treatment and the support of a loving family. 

 

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life

Transitioning Home

by Gloria Wilson

 

Transitioning Home Gloria Wilson Shining Service WorldwideMy brother just returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. He turned 20 while he was there. It was his first deployment and I did my best to prepare him for his experience, but you can never fully prepare someone.  Each deployment is unique to the person in the midst of it. Every experience shapes a person differently because the life you have lived thus far affects your actions and way of thinking. He told me more of what he was going through because he felt I could understand.  I had been in the military for 12 years and had returned from Afghanistana just a few months before he arrived there. 

 

He has now been back to his home station for a month.  Although I tried my best to prepare him for the transition of being back home, I don’t think it really hit him that it really is a “transition” and not an automatic “everything is the same now that I’m home”.  That was until he started having anxiety attacks. 

Anxiety attacks, from someone who just returned from a deployment? Weird right? Obviously not because many have heard about the difficulties service members face when they return from war zones.  But, what’s important to note is, we’re still not where we need to be with providing military members information and tools necessary to know that this is normal.  Letting them know  they are not going to get in trouble if they let people know they are struggling, and that needing help during the transition home isn’t a career ender.

Sadly my brother only knew he was experiencing anxiety attacks because he finally googled his symptoms. Only then did he let me know because I have made it my business to be his military mentor.  He felt I would understand and know what to do.  

 

What scares me isn’t the anxiety attacks, it’s the fact that if he didn’t have me to go to, he wouldn’t have told ANYONE. He was worried there would be repercussions.   

 

We had a long conversation and I explained to him that isn’t the case. I let him know about various options for counseling such as talking to Mental Health professionals and Chaplains, where information is kept confidential. I let him know there are always options and to never feel you have to keep quiet about needing help. When we were done I could almost feel the sigh of relief that he let it out when I told him, “Hey, this is normal.”

 

You would think people like my brother would know this because we hear stories all the time. But when it’s actually YOU experiencing it, you find yourself thinking that only people who have experienced the absolute extreme go through difficulties, and that your experience doesn’t fit the bill. You feel that what you went through wasn’t horrific enough, and you don’t see yourself in the same category as the publicized stories you hear. You understand that you’ve been through some stuff and seen some stuff, but you tell yourself it’s different and you should be fine. This is one of the reasons so many ignore the signs and don’t tell anyone. 

 

My brother will now receive the help he needs.  But what about those without a sister who happens to be in the military with similar experiences? Well if you’re in the military, have the candid talks with your troops before, during and after a deployment. Be that person for them—it’s your duty. You may be the only person they feel can understand.  

 

If you are a non-military person and they go to you, be there for them but understand that all the love in the world may not be enough.  If you truly care for that person you will acknowledge when you are out of your league and direct them to also seek assistance from the entities equipped to help in these situations.

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Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life

 

Fort Sam Houston, Here I Come!!

by Doris Rivas-Brekke

Fort Sam Houston Here I Come  Doris Rivas-Brekke Shining Service WorldwideI will be the first to say I loved my time at Fort McClellan, Alabama, but I was from southern California which was very different.  By the the time I was nineteen I had already travelled to Spain on my own.  I considered myself a world traveler and trust me, Alabama didn’t hold a candle to Spain.

I could not get out of the south fast enough and I hoped and prayed that not all the Army bases were like Fort McClellan.

When I arrived in San Antonio, Texas, I looked up at the sky and could tell immediately I was in a “real” city – my heart skipped a beat!  Just maybe, Fort Sam Houston would provide the life I was looking for in the military.  I wanted some fun; I wanted to meet new exciting people, and I wanted a career I loved.

My introduction Advanced Training Courses was intense. The particular course I was taking, mental health counseling, was one of the toughest and the failure rate was high. If you didn’t make it, you were reassigned where the military needed you and those places weren’t my first choice – not by a long shot. 

I really wanted a medical career and that goal was going to take all the mental fortitude I could muster.  I quickly realized perseverance was going to be key.  One thing I found out quickly is doing well in the military takes a double dose of personal strength. 

Next time I will share some of my adventures at Fort Sam Houston. My name is Doris Rivas-Brekke. I served in the U.S. Army as a mental health counselor in the medical corps. Using my military benefits I went on to achieve my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I am currently creative director for Military Mom Talk Radio and share my story with you to inspire you and the women following in my military footsteps.

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.

 

HIRE ME! Michelle Roxby, Black Hawk Chopper Pilot

By Phyllis Furman

The article below was featured in the New York Daily News as part of their new feature on Iraq veterans returning home and looking for jobs.  I wanted you to read it – it’s important for all of us to understand the challenges they face.

HIRE ME! Michelle Roxby, Black Hawk Chopper Pilot Phylis Forman - Shining Service WorldwideAs a Black Hawk helicopter pilot shuttling soldiers between army bases in Iraq, New York Army National Guard warrant officer Michelle Roxby had a clear mission:

Deliver her passengers safely.

But when Roxby, 33, returned to New York from a second tour of duty in Iraq in 2009 to begin her job search in the civilian world, she felt lost.

“It was the first time in my life I didn’t know what my next goal would be,” said Roxby, who lives in St. George, S.I. “It became almost depressing.”

For many returning New York-area veterans, the feeling is mutual.

While a job search can be brutal for anyone, it is especially frustrating for veterans like Roxby who achieved success in the military.

In addition to being one of the army’s few female Black Hawk pilots, she has held several key jobs in her military career, including running a team that managed survival gear for 85 air crew members.

More recently, she spent months training to be a maintenance test pilot, testing aircraft to see if they’re ready for a mission.

“I knew I had so many abilities. I had flown multimillion-dollar aircraft,” Roxby said.

“Many veterans are used to having high-level responsibilities. It’s frustrating to return to the civilian world and not be able to continue utilizing their skills.”

Roxby grew up in Glendale, Queens, and enlisted in the Army National Guard 11 years ago, just before graduating from SUNY Albany, where she got a B.A. in geology. She was ordered to active duty for the first time in 2003.

When she returned from Iraq three years ago, she had no clear career path in mind. Roxby, who also has a master’s degree in forensic sciences from George Washington University, looked for jobs on Craigslist and on Idealist.org, a listing of nonprofit jobs.

Within a few months, she found a position working for a nonprofit veterans mentoring program. But the drive to continue to improve her military skills led her to leave that job and focus on her training.

Luckily, as she trained to become a maintenance test pilot, from March to October of last year, she continued to earn a paycheck and a housing allowance from the Army National Guard.

But last fall, because of budget constraints, her paycheck ended and Roxby found herself looking for a job again.

She changed her strategy. She’s now focused on networking with her connections both inside and outside the military.

The results, so far, appear promising. Through an army contact, Roxby learned Citigroup was seeking to hire veterans. Though she did not get a job, she remains in touch with bank recruiters and execs.

In the meantime, she is confident that the skills she cultivated in the Army National Guard will benefit a civilian employer.

“I am an organization guru. Anyone who needs a wealth of information to be organized and prioritized, I am your person,” she said.

“I have some great contacts. My résumé is out there. I just need to find a home for my skills.”

Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family.  Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.