Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh, Say Can You See . . .

. . . Seth on the big screen?

Thanks to Barbara Talbot, I learned that she and her husband, Bob, took Seth and Chang to a Washington Nationals game Saturday, May 19. Bob and Barbara are volunteers with the Yellow Ribbon Fund. I have not met Barbara, but I met Bob. He hangs out in the lobby at building 62 to meet wounded warriors, find out their needs and interests, and then find a way to mentor them and/or provide access to the things they are interested in--such as tickets to Nationals' games.

Barbara sent me these photos via her iPhone. My reaction was odd--I sat at the computer and cried. It's been so nice to be home, but so difficult to be away from Seth and from first-hand knowledge of what is happening with his therapy and rehab. But I think I was mostly grateful to see him having a good time and to know that there are people like Bob and Barbara in the world.

I must also express my sincere appreciation to the Yellow Ribbon Fund. It is an absolutely amazing non-profit set up for the wounded warriors and their families. They provide airfare and lodging for family members of wounded warriors, getaways for NMAs, parties and other entertainment, and the list goes on and on. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Yellow Ribbon Fund is the people. They work one on one and face to face with warriors and families. They know us on a personal basis. I cannot say enough about this non-profit and its volunteers.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fluff and Mumbo Jumbo

Charlie Trentelman let me have his column space for one last article about Seth and me. Here it is.

Mother's Day Article

Since this link is not necessarily permanent, I am posting the content of my essay:

Author Elizabeth Stone said, “Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” My son and heart were blown up by an IED in Afghanistan July 1, 2011, and I spent the last 10 months by his side as he recovered. Charlie and others have said that I deserve the Mother of the Year award for thisI don’t agreeI did what any mother would do, what many mothers have done, are still doing and will continue to do. When I left Walter Reed in April, I left other moms and wives who had already been there a year, some two, with no end in sight. Their dedication is amazing and, for some, came at great expense. 

Though I don’t have any way of knowing, I imagine that for every mom who was thrilled that her child joined the military, there was a mom who was not. I was one of the latter. I thought that joining the military was for “other people’s kids.” Seth had a scholarship to Utah State—what business did he have joining the military? What an arrogant view. For whose children did I think it was their business? 

In Geraldine Brooks’ book March, Margaret March must go to Washington D.C. to tend to her husband, wounded in the Civil War. Her thoughts echo some of my earlier thoughts: “It was folly to let him go. Unfair of him to ask it of me. And yet one is not permitted to say such a thing; it is just one more in the long list of things that woman must not say. A sacrifice such as his is called noble by the world. But the world will not help me put back together what the war has broken apart . . . I am not alone in this. I only let him do to me what men have ever done to women: march off to empty glory and hollow acclaim and leave us behind to pick up the pieces. The . . . ruined bodies of the boys we bore . . .” 

Most of the time I am not bitter like Mrs. March. Thankfully, the world is helping us put back together what the war has broken. I think volunteering to fight for a cause that you believe in is noble. While I grieve for our wounded children, there are worse fates than this. While I long for peace, it is not enough to be anti-war; we must be wise enough to determine what is worth fighting for and what is not. My greatest hope now is that Seth and his comrades sacrifices will not be in vain, that the powers that be will ensure that some good comes from the terrible losses endured. And, because it is Mother’s Day, I will hope that the mothers of Afghanistan and their daughters have better lives because of the sacrifices of our children. 

And that is my point. These soldiers are our children—not other people’s kids. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What Happens Next

Seth and I came home to Utah on April 16. Seth got to hang out with friends and family, go camping, hit a bucket of balls, and eat at Soul and Bones and Bombay Grill. He took care of our dying dog Rio while Bob and I took a little vacation. Both Seth and Rio were still alive when we returned.

Seth returned on his own to Bethesda on Sunday, April 29.

So what's next? Now that his NMA is gone, Seth should be moved out of building 62 and into the single soldier barracks. We're hoping that he "flies under the radar" for a while and gets to stay in bldg 62 a little longer.

A prosthetic leg for running
He still has a lot of rehab to do. One next step is getting his running leg. To do so requires a bone density scan, which he has done but for which we don't know the results. It will also require his therapist's OK. Our friend Tom has a new "hybrid" leg that can be used to run but also can take a shoe. This seems like a great innovation. We'll see what Seth decides to get.

People ask us how much longer he will be there. We don't know. He still has probably a good six months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, but he also has to go through the Medical Evaluation Board process, which we hear can take a year. This process will determine his disability rating; his disability rating determines what his benefits will be for the rest of his life, so it's taken very seriously. It also requires working through military bureaucracy and, where Seth is, there are quite of few people going through the process, so it just takes time.

On the bright side, there are many opportunities available to wounded warriors there that would not be available elsewhere. Warriors, if they choose, can intern at any government agency, go to college online or on the hospital campus, participate in numerous sports camps and activities including training for the Paralympics, and take part in almost innumerable adventures provided by non-profits and individuals.

I will post updates once in a while, but that will require information from Seth and, when it comes down to it, he's a pretty private guy. Any attention he has received is because his mom wanted it for him, not because he wanted it.