For many of us who struggle with Chronic Pain on top of the Other injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) (I have both) there are days like today where the pain is just too much and you feel like your health is not getting any better… but in fact it’s getting worse.
Sometimes I feel like giving up… The pain never ends and the injuries just won’t heal… So what do you do?
You’ve sought help only to have it go unanswered because YOU DON’T QUALIFY FOR IT (you make too much money). So now I’m left to my thoughts and the pain. The Concept of living just doesn’t seem to hold much for the future… And the constant pain I cause those I love only compounds this situation.
Being bed ridden and unable to do much of anything also hurts especially when my kids want to play a game or do something…
But I can’t do Anything Because I can’t work and I can’t afford to pay my bills (had to declare bankruptcy) then add to all of that the stress all this causes my marriage… To the Point of I’m worried about my wife having an emotional meltdown and not be able to hold all the family together
So what then do I do? All I can do is watch my family unwind and implode on themselves because of me.
The thoughts flood into my mind about why I should not live:
Always on the top of everyone’s list is
- They are better off without me
- Maybe with me gone they actually might qualify for financial help.
- The pain is too much to where I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror and who I’ve become because of the pain.
- I can’t stand to look in their eyes and see the pain I constantly cause them.
- I’m like a cancer in their life and they need to cut me out of it.
- The list could go on and on you get my point.
So what do I do? How do I overcome this insurmountable gap from where I am to being able to get help?
NO MAN’S LAND… THE PLACE HOPE COMES TO DIE
I live in a place that I have come to call “No-Mans Land”.
“No-Mans Land” is a place I call home these days. Living in a Black hole that is devoid of any kind of support from the Federal, State, or Local government. It is also lacking in any kind of support from non profit organizations that are supposedly here in the area to support Veterans (just not veterans like me)… Living in a Black hole or as I have come to affectionately call its “No-Man’s Land” is THE PLACE where HOPE comes to die.
That’s the one that bugs me the most… NONPROFITS… I started Camp Freedom Ranch (a nonprofit for Veterans) in the hopes that we could stop the senseless suicides of 22 Warriors a day and to Provide them the Hope and Support they so desperately need. To help veterans and families that are just like me.
ZEAL LEFT UNCHECKED:
Unfortunately my zeal for the mission of Camp Freedom Ranch was not metered by logic or the sound practice of adhering the expert guidance I was receiving. I felt that to wait and take the slow methodical approach would be too costly (the results of my actions would be almost deadly) in the loss of life and we needed to attack the situation head on. While my zeal for the mission of CFR was the very thing that drew people in, it was also the very thing that caused me to spend my life savings to fund almost the entire operation. Through it all I had a GREAT Leader and mentor (Greg) who stood beside me and tried as best he could (without hitting me with a baseball bat) to guide me and groom me for the task ahead. He (unlike me) is the long war type of leader who sees with great vision, clarity, and detail the outcome of actions taken today years down the road. While I had a hard enough time just seeing past the next year. I am and forever grateful for all that he and his lovely bride did for me and my family and can never thank them both enough. But sadly I allowed my obstinance to push him out of my life because I could not TRUST him like he trusted me. All because I allowed the words of few to taint or miscolor my perception of how I viewed certain things.
IT’s CUT-THROAT OUT THERE
Since the inception of Camp Freedom Ranch back in November of 2012 there have been some setbacks along the way that have thrown me for a loop because I just did not want to believe that this nonprofit world is cut throat. In October 2012 I had the opportunity to sit down for awhile with the President of a very successful and prestigious non profit organization. The advice she gave me that day has been very helpful. But the one thing she said that has impacted me the most the gut check she gave me. She asked me if I had counted the cost and was a prepared to take on this endeavor. I looked at her with a Gary Coleman look as if to say “What you talkin about Willis”. She said that the non profit world was a cut throat world to be in and that a veteran non profit was even more so. I couldn’t believe it. Why would people not want to help each other as they are trying to help our Nation’s Heroes? It took me three years to finally realize that what she said was all too real.
It took me three years to finally understand what Margret meant that day in October. 2012 and I can honestly say I believe it 100%. Over those three years I’ve had people offer their support only to discover their motives were self-serving in nature. Many nonprofits in my area view Veterans as capital (a thing that was hard for me to understand) the more veterans an organization has access to the more liquid capital they have. All I wanted to do is help my fellow Warriors and to truly shed a light on this situation so many of us find ourselves in. I held out Hope that there were people out there like me, I wanted to believe in the Greater Good and that people still care and perform selfless acts of kindness and good. But for now I’ll just wait. Because of those people who cared more about self than others I allowed their actions to affect my relationships and the way I interacted with others resulting in damaged and lost friendships. Only to be confronted with the surrealism of a CUT THROAT Society that care more for themselves than they do about our Nation’s Heroes and helping veterans.
I have to admit that having people trick and mislead me was a major setback for me in the trust department it also opened eyes to see things as they really are. These people thought they could steal our ideas but the fact of the matter is those things that make us unique are the people and experiences we have all been through and what each individual brings to the table. Just like a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) that consist of four key elements each with its own mission to perform. The CE, GCE, ACE, and CSSE each one different but together they are unstoppable.
I allowed my zeal to override common sense and didn’t see things logically like I should have. Instead it turned me zeal from the passion that inspires to an obstinance that gets under your skin. That same zeal that caused people to sit up and listen or to get involved was the same zeal that turned into stubbornness. I set out to take the world by storm but in the end I wound up a VOC due to PPPP. I became what one of my Platoon Sergeants used to always preach to us everyday about planning. Don’t be a VOC to the 4 P’s. For those of you wondering here it is:
Don’t be a Victim Of Circumstances (VOC) due to Piss Poor Prior Planning (4 P’s)
I know… I know… Trust me I know what I have just wrote and it’s a bit tough to take in. That’s why it took me (3) Three years to wake up and smell the roses myself. I didn’t want to believe it… I couldn’t Believe it…. But the sad fact of the matter is…
Other Veteran Nonprofits in my area see Veterans as Currency. The more Wounded Warriors/Veterans they have in their organization the more Liquid Capital they can amass. But who gives a hoot that they aren’t really doing much to change the outcome of this battle we face.
I’d like to think I’m unstoppable….
I STILL BELIEVE:
Today I still believe in our mission and that Camp Freedom Ranch will achieve the synergy (synergism) it seeks with a select few other organizations. Together we will achieve what we have set out to do (PROVIDE HOPE) through a strategic Combined Arms approach of “Restoring the Warrior and Rebuilding the Family“. It was my zeal left unchecked that started things to unravel so don’t be foolish like me and get connected with a fellow warrior and talk. Allow someone to tell you like it is and not flip out. Those people who tried to steal from us the things that make CFR unique never can and never will. Because only those who really understand the phrase “War is Hell” can affect that change.
THE MOTHER OF ALL INVENTION:
They say that need or necessity is the mother of all invention. Well how can those on the outside who are not struggling or in this place I call “No-Mans Land” ever really offer any solution to solve the problem?
Necessity is the mother of invention definition. A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.
The key concepts and ideas that makes Camp Freedom Ranch unique can only be expressed in a way that only other Wounded Veterans would understand.
MAYBE… Just Maybe… Part of their problem is because they don’t have a Wounded Veteran as their President or at least one in executive Leadership who suffers with PTSD/TBI on top of the physical injuries and Chronic Pain themselves.
Because I submit to you those who do… Are trying to combine forces with other like-minded organizations who really care about Meeting the NEED of our Warriors and Caregivers. INSTEAD of TELLING them… Sorry but you DON’T QUALIFY for any assistance under our programs.
HAVE I GOT YOUR ATTENTION?
IS ANYONE LISTENING?
Sometimes I feel like the blind that walk along a wall feeling their way through life, unable to see what’s in front of them, left to suffer alone. Even on the brightest of days, we look for the LIGHT OF HOPE but only find darkness and skies filled with doom.
.SO… The question still stands WHAT DO I DO? How do we keep going (fight the good fight) in face of such extreme circumstances…
This Month on April 22nd, 2016 it will mark my 13 year ALIVE DAY… These past 13 years have had their ups and downs (more downs of late than ups) but through it all I have found a few things along the way to help me stay the course of life.
What to Hold-on To When You Want To Give-Up:
- My Faith
- Trying to understand what happened that day and why is too difficult to do and beyond my Pay Grade. However, I can tell you that when I died and left my body I did see things and hear people and my guardian angel was the one escorting me up. No I did not see a light at the end of a tunnel in fact I saw no tunnel at all) but what I know to be the facts of that day and the science of it all I should be dead. But for the Grace of God I’m not. So I have to believe that I was given a second lease on life that day not for me to waste it here on earth but do be a VOICE for the VOICELESS. To speak up for my fellow warriors who suffer with PTSD & TBI and to tell their story. To create awareness for all to see and understand what we go through and that we have INADEQUATE CARE. IF I give UP TODAY and Pack it in then what about m fellow brothers who are suffering in silence. I live to fight for the guy on my right and left AND YOU SHOULD TOO>. SPEAK UP!!
- My Family
- more accurately my Son) he was born in 2005 and the unconditional love that he gives me melts me every time. When I think about him growing up without a Father I am immediately saddens because I know the truth is HE DESERVES BETTER than that. My wife and Daughters deserve better than that, though times are hard now I know that there will be a NEW SEaSON and each day brings me closer to that Day.
- My Wife:
- I have spoken with my wife about these feelings & YOU SHOULD TOO. …We all Need Each Other… As Iron Sharpens Iron. So One Warrior/Veteran Sharpens Another. We can’t go through this alone so speak up and speak out. Tell someone you TRUST. After speaking with my wife about how I was feeling and why she then began to share with me what life would be like for her without me in it. I have to admit that my vision was very narrow and self-centered before we spoke. Try it you might just be surprised at the revelation you discover.
- My Fellow Warriors:
- I know that it sucks living in no-man’s land, but I can only imagine how much more it must suck for my fellow Warriors who are out there fixing the good fight without anyone or any type of support network in their life. I declare Today the I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU! WILL YOU FIGHT FOR ME? Stand up and get involved don’t let life pass you by.
- If you are in the Fire Fight for your life and pinned down do as you would in Combat and place a “CALL FOR FIRE”
- Adjust Fire
- Fire for Effect
- My Purpose in Life
- This one has been difficult to nail down and is a bit challenging when my health doesn’t cooperate but I know my purpose for living that day was to FIGHT for Veterans returning from war and their families who are making the transition from Service to Civilian. I know it’s difficult and even more so when you feel all alone and are not given any help. That’s why I stated CAMP FREEDOM RANCH. TO PROVIDE HOPE; TO BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS; TO CREATE AWARENESS; TO TAKE THE STIGMA OUT OF PTSD & TBI
Overcoming Situations (Logic)
- Focus on the 90% of positive encounters I had instead of focusing all my energy on the negative ones.
- Rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings.
- Since there were legitimate problems that came up with the way I was doing something, I needed to address them.
- I identified the positives first
- Then the problem, discussed ways I could address the problem (with others who can contribute)
- Then implement new strategies.
when you’re doing something worthwhile, it’s okay not to get it -the important thing is that you keep persisting at it until you’ve mastered it.
Successful self-teaching requires self-discipline and reflective capability.
Techniques for Overcoming Negative Thoughts & Emotions
- Make a list of the positives and what has been going well, and
- Come up with new solutions for the problems you face (don’t be afraid to ask around for help), and then implement the new strategies with persistence and patience until you’ve found one that works.
Key Characteristics Needed:
- reflective capability.
Since starting Camp Freedom Ranch (CFR) I have made mistakes and lost my life’s savings because I allowed my Passion to overrule my logic (not doing that one again) and now my health is at an all time low and I could die. But This one thing I swear, That I WILL continue to fight for my Fellow Warriors and to generate awareness of our Struggle to My Dieing Last Breath. So Help ME GOD!
If You are not in a good Church get online and find one in your local area. Look for a Church that offers Small Groups (sometimes called Life Groups) and get involved. If you don’t know how ask me.
Semper Fidelis Warriors and continue to Fight the Good Fight.