Thursday, January 25, 2007

Memorials are Nice, But...

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Dennis Moore (KS-03) introduced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The revenue gained from the new coin would help fund a national memorial honoring those veterans.

“More and more of our brave men and women are returning home with injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives,” Moore said. “We can never fully communicate our gratitude for the service and sacrifice that our servicemen and women have made for our country, but this memorial is an important step.”

Moore introduced the bill, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act, along with Republican Congressman Mark Kirk (IL-10) and with the endorsement of the Disabled Veterans LIFE Memorial Foundation.

Sergeant Bryan Anderson, a triple amputee Iraq veteran and advocate for the memorial, joined Moore and Kirk in announcing the introduction of this legislation. Anderson, who was recently featured in Esquire Magazine, spoke about his recovery effort and his vision for a national memorial to honor other permanently disabled American veterans.

“While Sgt Bryan Anderson lost both legs and an arm in combat, his spirit is strong,” said Congressman Kirk. “He has become a living symbol of the need to finish a memorial for the 3 million Americans who are disabled veterans.”

Commanding an impressive two-acre site within full view of the U.S. Capitol, the Memorial will be located adjacent to the National Mall, and across Independence Avenue from the U.S. Botanic Garden, at Washington Avenue (Canal Street) and Second Street, SW. It will be the nation's first physical tribute specifically honoring America's three million living disabled veterans and the countless thousands who have since died. More information regarding the memorial can be found at

Memorials are nice and I believe that Congressman Moore has the best interests of the veterans at heart. But I'm sure what disabled veterans would like most is more funding directed at healing their wounds (mental and physical), as well as vocational funding to help find these veterans careers.
I saw a story yesterday about a man who gave a veteran who had both of his legs blown off in a car bombing in Iraq, a fast food franchise. Before the donation, the veteran said he had no idea what he would do with his life.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Ties That Bind

Common Ties, a weblog dedicated to bringing personal stories to life, posted one of my essays on my brother, Steve, this morning.
View it at:

They are posting war stories this week. Today (Monday) is dedicated to the Vietnam War.
To view more,


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

NPR Focuses on Post Traumatic Stress

NPR recently did a report on PTSD:

Very interesting and very sad to read the things my brother experienced in the Vietnam era, as well as things I wrote about Jeff Lucey in my book are still happening.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bad News

The thing about losing someone as a result of war is that you never view any war the same ever again. It might have taken 30 years for my brother to die, but everyone who knew him knows what killed him. My husband is an action/adventure movie fan and it used to be the war movies he watched never bothered me. The thing is, I haven't been able to watch a movie about war since January 2001 when I found out Steve had died. Although my husband also loved my brother, I know he sometimes cannot understand my reaction to war or anything war related.
My head tells me there are certain wars that have to be fought, but Iraq was not one of them. As we were sitting down to dinner yesterday, a military recruitment ad came on the television. It was one of those ads where the kids is trying to convince his parent that the Army would be a good move for his future. "Log onto to *** and we'll give you the information you need."
I couldn't help but go into a tirade: "And we'll send them home to you in a body bag, if not immediately, then we'll make sure their lives are screwed up forever." I asked my husband, "What parent in their right mind would send their kid into the military right now?
He didn't have an answer for me. I know that like my parents, who thought they were doing the best thing for Steve, giving him an opportunity for training and possibly an education, there are no good answers.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The King of Las Vegas Orders Subjects to Quit Feeding Homeless

The mayor of Las Vegas, who until now, I thought to be kind of quirky, but relatively harmless, is on a mission to rid his city of homeless people. Never mind the fact that sky rocketing real estate prices have moved many of the working poor right onto the streets. And also not to mention that the law he unsuccessfully tried to pass making feeding the homeless (as if they were pigeons) might have denied a veteran, someone who has truly served this country, a meal.
Read the full story here:

God forbid visitors see the human cost of poverty on the glitzy streets of Las Vegas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night." "It's my duty to stand at
the front of the line, That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people
s you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
U.S.service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe.
Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed
themselves for us.
LCDR Jeff Giles, SC,
USN 30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Brother, There's Too Many of You Dying. Mother, There's Too Many of You Crying

Editor and Publisher is reporting that U.S. deaths could top those of 9-11 on Christmas

A Bereaved Parents Holiday Wish list

Karen Meredith submitted this list and I'm posting it here in honor of my mother's 82nd birthday. I know as she thinks about her life, she will also be thinking about the beginning of all of her children's lives - my brother Steve's included. Thanks to this list, I plan on acknowledging that.

1. I wish my child hadn't died. I wish I had him back.
2. I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you also.
3. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.
4. I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.
5. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me. I need you now more than ever.
6. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but, I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.
7. I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child's death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know those things through a phone call, a card or note, or a real big hug.
8 I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.
9. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.
10. I wish you wouldn't expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy." Neither will happen for a very long time, so don't frustrate yourself.
11. I don't want to have a "pity party," but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.
12. I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I'm feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
13. When I say "I'm doing okay," I wish you could understand that I don't "feel" okay and that I struggle daily.
14. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I'm having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I'm quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.
15. Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that I'm doing good to handle an hour at a time.
16. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone.
17. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.
18. I wish very much that you could understand; understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain BUT I pray daily that you will never understand.

Thanks to the Pediatric Oncology Resource Center for this information.
-- Karen Meredith, Proud Mom of Lt Ken Ballard- KIA 5.30.04
Please visit these websites: