Do you know who suffers the most during all of this? The children of the soldiers. Our children are the ones paying the ultimate price for this war. I think as adults it is so hard for us to remember all of this. We want our kids to be kids. But how can military children truly be kids when they have to step up and take on some of the family responsibilities? I know life is not fair, but our kids deserve better. They deserve to have their childhoods.
Did you know when the original Walter Reed closed it's doors there were 526 non-profits who were registered to be there? (I have not gotten the number Navy has allowed at the new Walter Reed). Do you know how many help the kids? I've counted 6, but only 1 is exclusive to the kids. Our Military Kids only focuses on our military children, but due to lack of funds they can only serve Wounded Warrior children and those children of deployed National Guard. You may think why only deployed National Guard? You must realize National Guard soldiers are spread out. Active Duty military are usually attached to a base and have a support group in place. National Guard come from everywhere and their children may find themselves being the only military child in the school. Our Military Kids targets these children so they don't get forgotten. Due to their limited funds they have to limit who they help. They are a great organization with a great mission and will go very far.
The Yellow Ribbon Fund focuses on caregivers and children. Help Our Military Heroes, Operation Second Chance, Operation Homefront and Aleethia attempt to serve the entire family. The rest of the organizations that I have encountered focus on the soldiers and sometimes include the families. Usually for the events, it's soldier plus one for the event. Sometimes it specifically says solider plus NMA (Non-Medical Attendant).
I can't tell you how many things we have turned down because they only want Chaz and I. I like to go out by ourselves every once in a while, but I have no desire to do it all the time. I actually like our girls a lot and I enjoy doing things as a family. Unfortunately a lot of people disagree. It broke my heart the other day when Deryn asked Chaz, "Daddy why don't they want me and sissy here?" She was talking about the hospital. Kids tell you exactly like it is. If our 9 year old feels like she's not wanted, then she's not wanted. Since the beginning we have kept our lines of communication open with our girls. We don't want them to hold anything back from us. We are trying to heal as a family not individually.
Yesterday Deryn had another breakdown. In tears she said, "I want to go home to Tennessee. I want my friends, my school and my house. Everyday it's all about Daddy and I just want to go home where it's about us." We have a lot more great days then bad. We're talking 100 great days to 1 bad one. Some of her fit was from being tired, some of it is from being 9 and some of it is the truth. When your child is in an environment where they are shut out at every turn how are they supposed to feel?
I think everyone should go to Bethesda and check it out. The only playground for our kids to play on it just outside of a day care and it is currently closed due to repairs. We toured the day care the other day and it is beautiful by the way and super organized. The only place for our kids to play at Bethesda is a book shelf and part of a wall in the SFAC (Soldier-Family Assistance Center). There was supposed to be a kids area in the MATC but the Joint Commission came through and cleared it out saying the kids bring in too many germs and their toys are not being sanitized to their standards. That's it a bookshelf and a wall. Wow, I know I'd feel welcome there!
I understand hospitals are not the proper places for children. Why do you think I left our girls in TN from January to May? But what about the families who don't have the options I had. What do they do? They wear themselves out trying to heal a husband and heal a family. Thank goodness for that new day care. At least they will get some sort of a break. But shouldn't there be a place there to help heal our kids?
I truly believe there should be an area designated just for our kids to be kids. At the minimum we need a freaking playground. These kids follow their parents around, sometimes all day long, and a playground would be a great place to let them run around and be kids for a little bit. There is a bowling alley there at Bethesda, but some kids have no interest in that at all. Almost every kid loves a swing or a slide. There also needs to be a kid play area that the Joint Commission has no say in. If it passes day care standards then the Joint Commission should not be involved. Besides I've seen some of there decisions and they have a tendency to go overboard. Remember even when you get the degrees, you have to also allow some common sense into your decisions.
I truly don't think our leaders truly thought through the consequences of this war. I don't think they factored in that one injured solider can effect thousands of lives. I don't think they thought about the soldiers' children. Does this make them horrible people, no not at all. We are all human, we all act without thinking. But now it is time to think. Let's make it better. It is not so far gone that we can't fix it.
Look at how the military has learned from these injuries and look at all the lives our medics have saved. We do not leave a soldier behind. We have adapted and have learned things to bring our guys back to their families. Look at the advances we have made in surgical techniques and prosthetics. One thing I am constantly thankful for it that Chaz was injured in 2011. We have learned so much about our soldiers and what they need. If Chaz had been injured a few years ago, he would have lost his right arm, because the technology was not there yet to save it. Chaz could have easily died right there on the ground or in the chopper, because he lost so much blood. But no, everyone involved knew exactly what to do and they did it and they got him home to us. So many have led the way to make it better for Chaz and the others. Please don't think I am happy that Chaz was hurt. I am happy that the Army trained their medics (very well, I'd like to add) to save his life. I am happy that he made it back home. I would rather have him the way I have him then to not have him in my life.
Now let's let the medical people do their jobs and let's listen to the families about how to heal the non-medical part of the soldier. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to heal a soldier. The community is there, we just have to unite and demand to help the kids of our wounded.
We can make it better. We can keep our military kids on a positive path. We can teach them to not resent this situation. We can show them the country is proud of their parents for their sacrifice and we can give them the best future possible. That has been mine and Chaz's mission from day one. The first conversation we had was what to do about the girls. I am very proud of every decision we have made. We have not rushed into anything we have thought all of it through and I think it has paid off. Our girls will have several more meltdowns, hello they are 9 and 6. But we will continue to make our great days outnumber our bad. We will continue to find things to do as a family. I can only hope that the path we are blazing will help one other family. If we just help one all of this will be worth it in the end.