Most of you are aware of our awesome van that was given to us by Help Our Military Heroes. We were van award #10 for them for the year. They equipped this awesome van so Chaz could get in and out of it without any problems and then they equipped it so he could drive it. The vans are just awesome!! We were awarded ours in July.
We had no problems finding parking at WRAMC nor here at our apartment building. Please remember for Chaz to be able to drive it, we have to make sure there's a parking spot that allows enough clearance for him to let the ramp out and so he can get off that ramp. September we get to Bethesda. I had already been warned about the parking and how there are very few spots. My brain says well surely they have plenty of handicap spots. So I asked, "Sure we have the spots, we even have Van Accessible ones." We go to find out yes they have these spots. But the "van accessible" ones did not have enough room marked off for us to let the ramp out. Well, let me correct that, I could let the ramp out, but the cars that might be parked next to us, might not appreciate their doors being banged in and scratched up.
I think you might all now know how my little brain works. So I started driving around looking for a solution, before I complained. Before I found my solution, I met several soldiers who were getting tickets and not very nice notes left on their cars. They were taking up 2 spaces to make sure they had a place to park. One of them told me, "Look my wife is going to school and our apartment complex doesn't have a shuttle. I have to get here. They haven't made a space for us, so I am going to make my own." He also told me that every ticket thus far had been torn up when he took them in.
Of course what does this do....it pisses me off even more and fuels the fire. I start asking questions and I find the right person to help me. Remember our awesome Squad Leader, yes he's the one who sent me in the right direction. I got to sit down with this very nice lady who had no idea what was going on. I explained to her these guys just got their freedom to drive back, but since they don't have a place to park they are having to park illegally or just get dropped off. She said this was her new priority #1.
She wasn't lying within a week of sitting down with her. I found out the Navy agreed to give us 6 spots. There are 62 handicap spots in that garage. These 6 specifically state "Van with side ramp only." The signs went up as soon as they came in. Wahoo, another small victory.
Days pass and my small victory got trumped. I pulled into the garage and all 6 of our spots were filled with cars. Yes they had handicap tags, stickers, or placards. But they obviously didn't have side ramps. I went straight over to security and asked what the crap?! I was very nice to them because I knew it was not their fault. I was then informed they tried to enforce those spots and got in trouble for it. They were putting out orange cones and a Navy officer told them they couldn't do that and that he didn't care about the vans. Those spots were for handicap and those vans didn't need a special spot. The security guards have seen us many, many times. They are so nice. He also told me he called the Navy's MPs and asked them to help and they refused. They said almost the identical thing that the Navy officer said. The security guards told me they have no authority and really wanted to help us. I patted them on the back and told them thanks for being honest and for trying to help us.
Let me tell you I do not put days of effort into something to let a couple of idiots ruin it. I am so sorry you still have your legs and you are so ignorant that you don't take the time to see this is needed. Don't think that for one minute I will not be in your face letting you know how stupid you are. I will bring my mack truck of common decency and I will slam you with it.
So I walked around the garage and took pictures. Then I went and visited my friends who got the spots for us. They were as unhappy as I was. The nice lady who got the spots said exactly what I thought. "We didn't work this hard for nothing." She asked me what do you think I should suggest. I told her the guards had used orange cones to block the spots and then would let us wave, they'd move them and we could park. She said that's perfect why aren't they doing that now. Then I tell her they told them to stop because it was not necessary. You could see her blood pressure going up. She then said you go have a great day. I need to make a not nice phone call and you don't need to be witness to it.
The next day I pull into the garage and I saw a orange cone in our spots. I jumped out moved it and parked. By the time I got out of the car, one of the security guards was standing there. He said, "Ma'am what is your name?" I tell him. He says, "I don't know who you know, but thank you so much for helping us help these guys. You are great." He had this huge smile on his face. He then told me the first thing they did in the morning was mark out spots with orange cones. He then told me how much it meant to them to help our families. He said "You're the second family of the day. This is just great." He then told me the guy that works on the elevators took one of our spots before they got to work. He told me he would be having a conversation with him when he returned.
That's what it's all about folks. It's about working together for the same cause. It's about making sure these guys retain their freedoms. You have no idea what driving does for their morale. Let me assure you, I will not let anyone take that away from Chaz, much less any other wounded hero. They have given so much already. The least we can do is make sure they have a place to park so we can start their day off right. I will take pictures every day if I have too. I will tattle everyday if I have too. I will storm into an office and raise hell if I have too. I am pretty sure this war is not over. But the great news is we have great people on our team to help our wounded warriors. With these great people on board we will succeed!