Monday, April 29, 2013

Just to Clear Things Up......

This video is circulating around right now, (I should say again). I will warn you now it is graphic. I would not suggest the weak stomached or small children watch it at all.

I just wanted to take a few minutes and answer a few questions. Here's what has been asked.....

Is that Chaz? Yup! It's him. You can see the legs and elbow that we all miss terribly. ;) 

Am I ok? Yup I am totally fine. We have seen it a few times and we have copies of both pieces TF-1 did in 2011. 

Did we know about it? Yes and we signed papers and gave our full permission.

Why would we allow it? War is real. Injuries are real. You do not get any more real than this. Michele (reporter) and Gilles (cameraman) were able to capture exactly what happened to Chaz. We feel they did an excellent job and others need to see the reality of the situation. Chaz and I are thankful for the footage. We were able to have a lot of questions answered.

Are we upset with the French or TF-1? No, we are not upset at all. The people of France have been beyond supportive of us. We have a standing invitation to visit the country as soon as Chaz is up to it. We hope to cross the ocean in 2014.

Have the girls seen it? No the girls have not seen it. We hope they don't see it until they are ready for it. We are thankful that when they are ready for it we can show them how heroic their Daddy was on the battlefield.

Does the Army know about this? Yes, the reporter and cameraman were embedded with the guys at the time. There is a second piece which was filmed at Walter Reed. All permissions for that one were obtained as well.

How can I watch it? It's my husband and I wanted to know everything. I have all of the answers I needed by watching this. The only part that bothers me if when Chaz yells, "Medic." I want to jump into the screen and save him. I can hear the pain in his voice. Every time I watch it, I get sick to my stomach because I couldn't save him.

Do I have nightmares from this? I have in the past, but not recently. Chaz and I are very thankful though that we know exactly who did what when and how to get Chaz home. This video actually created a dialog between not only Chaz and I, but also between the guys that were with him and I as well.

Does it bother me that it's circulating? Nope it doesn't bother me one bit. What does bother me are the stupid comments people made on the youtube link. Chaz has banned me from looking at that page. So I don't.

Is Chaz barking orders? Yes Chaz is not only barking orders he is also calling in for his own bird with his one good arm. I don't think this clip shows Doc yelling at Chaz to "Shut up and be a casualty." TF-1 provided us with additional footage and I can't remember if that made it in this one or not. But oh did I laugh when that was shouted at my hubby.

Is he moving his arm? Yes he was moving his right arm. Now you can see why I fought so hard with him to keep it. He remembered moving it and knew it was viable.

Was anyone else hurt? No one else that day was visibly injured. I can tell you they all were invisibly injured. Some have already come to grips with it and some have not. That was a tough day that had numerous ripple effects. When you watch the video you can understand why.

I am sure you have additional questions to ask. I can do my best to answer them. I just wanted to get this out there to let you know that we know about it. And more importantly you need to know we are ok with it. You might not understand how we are comfortable with the video. Here's the best way to look at it. You know the real ending and that ending is truly a Happy Ever After.....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Adding Our Ginger

Since Chaz retired January 19th, our little family has been met with one nasty hiccup after another. We arrived at our home January 20th to find our beloved dog, Arf, in bad shape. The next day we found out his heart was failing and that it was only a matter of time before he passed. We hoped he would just pass in his sleep, but instead we had him put to sleep that Friday. We had closed on our land the day before. Demetria and Ray were kind enough and buried Arf on our land for us that Saturday.

Monday January 28th, after our groundbreaking, the girls and I told Arf good-bye. Do you know Ginger was born January 29th? While that cute little pup was getting ready to come into our lives, we lost our friend Wes to suicide, Chaz developed shingles, then a flesh eating bacteria in his back, then we lost Derek. As Deryn put it one time during these past two months, "Can this crazy stop for a minute?"

All these one-two punches were really getting us down. I only mentioned the top four above, we have been hit with nothing but things that make you go "Grrr" consistently during the past two months and it needed to stop. We needed some sunshine in our lives. I missed my Arf so incredibly bad. One day I found myself looking for dogs. I found two very quickly and called to discover they already had pending pick ups. The third just never responded, so I decided to give up for a while. Then one day I found myself looking at dogs on the P.A.W.S. facebook page and there she was. I immediately took a screen shot of her on my iPhone to show Chaz.

Once Chaz gave the nod of approval, I called immediately and we were in luck she had not been claimed. Chaz and I knew with just her picture that Ginger would work for us. We wanted her for Easter, so we could put her in an Easter basket for our cuties, but we were told she would not be ready by then. We were totally fine with that, so we began developing Plan B.

As we discussed Plan B with our friends and family, we began referring to Ginger as "the laundry." We have an event coming up and Chaz will need a suit custom made for him. We knew the girls had heard us discussing this and we knew we could totally pull off our surprise now. We had a lot of laughs about "the laundry" before it arrived.

Ginger became an Allen on Friday, April 5. Chaz took my niece and little brother and picked Ginger up. I got the box ready. We snuck her into the house and planted her in the box. We told the girls that one of their boxes from our apartment in Maryland had arrived and they needed to come open it. I swear to you the adults were too excited for words. ;) Here are some great pics from our great day!

The box....
Inside the box....
 Girls open box....
 Girls excited to see what is in the box....
 Girls getting a better view....
 The "can we keep her/ is she ours moment"
 Please can we take her out of the box....
 My happy crew...
 Ginger meets the niece and neighbors.

 Too much excitement....she needs one last snuggle, then a nap.

I think you'll agree Ginger has been a great dose of happy for our family. We desperately needed a little bit of happy that only puppy kisses and a wagging tail can bring. Things have just been too serious and too crazy here. We needed to laugh and smile. There's just something about this dog. I truly feel like our Arf sent her to us. We cannot replace, nor will we ever forget Arf. Ginger is bringing so many smiles and laughs every day and I know she is the perfect fit for us.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Another Level of Ridiculous....

To add to the craziness of out lives, I just got off the phone with a less than delightful person from Tricare. Let me preface all of this with the fact that the Tricare South personnel are always friendly and I have never had a problem with them. I have not had one problem with Tricare South in the over a decade I have worked with them. Tricare North, well today I discovered that's another story. You see we received this letter the other day.
If you read it, you'll see Tricare wants to know what Third Party they can bill for Chaz's injuries. We have already been through this with Tricare South. The lady from Tricare South was so nice and just said to send in one of many things and we wouldn't hear anymore from them. We have never heard another word from Tricare South. As you can see, Tricare North wants their own proof.

Chaz had to have work done to his wheelchair before we left Walter Reed. It was actually the last thing he did. The last medical thing ever and boom Tricare North says hold up wait, prove what is going on?! I am confused?! Chaz was there being treated for two years and now you want proof? Ok fine, I'll call. I want the wheelchair people to get paid because they have been fabulous to us.

I called Tricare and was more than polite. I explained to the lady we submitted this form in 2011 and it hasn't been 2 years since I submitted that one. Then I explained my husband stepped on an IED and there's not a third party to bill unless she wants to find them in Afghanistan and I laughed. Well I guess she didn't find that funny. I was told she didn't care how my husband was injured. She was not discussing the matter any further because the bill was for him and not me. She wanted to know where he was and I told her he was at the VA (because he is). She then said our conversation was over unless I put him on the phone and he told her it was ok. I told her I am not asking questions about his records and am not violating HIPPA. I was simply questioning protocol since we already filed the form and due to the nature of the injuries. Then she snapped at me and said,"The federal government is the one looking for the proof of his injuries and you need to take this up with them and not me." Nice, huh?! I snapped and I said, "Wow, really? Well ma'am I truly hope you have a better day." Then I hung up on her.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have now entered into a new level of ridiculous. Rather than talking about protocol and trying to understand why we have to submit the same form and be polite about it, let's just blame the government and get snippy. Rather than being polite, let's be a jerk and ruin someone's day because you are obviously having a Monday on a Thursday. Rather than actually looking at our wounded, ill and injured medical files that you have full access to view, let's send them a form to make them justify their medical issues that you are obligated to pay.

Now I do not blame the lady on the phone for anything besides her rotten attitude. Obviously she needs to rethink her line of work. I blame the Tricare officials for not resolving this issue in advance or for not putting in some type of exemption so families of wounded don't have another hoop to jump through. And I have news for her a DD Form 2587 is a Department of Defense issued form, not Federal Government. So we can address this at the Pentagon level and not Congressional level and get this sucker taken care of. Here's an idea; the Department of Defense can have these forms filled out and signed at the time of treatment at the military treatment facility and we can avoid rude people at Tricare. Just a thought....

What's the saddest part of all of this? When I fill out the form there's not a "wounded in combat" box to check. I have to check "other" and then specify. Now the fun begins, because I need to decide what to write on that "other" line again.....

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Derek.....

When I think of Derek, I think of a quote from Julius Caesar. "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once." Derek McConnell was a valiant Hero. He volunteered to serve our country. He agreed to protect us all and defend our constitution. Derek, unlike so many, chose to run right into the fire rather than run away. Derek was not afraid to fight. I am beyond honored that I was able to witness his fight so closely. I still cannot believe his fight has ended.

Derek entered our lives the day he was injured. Facebook linked our family to his. Thanks to facebook friends, I was able to help Siobhan and then Krystina navigate this mess of a system that we have to go through. I watched as they stood by, as I had done just months before, waiting for answers from doctors and surgeons. I tried to help them in anyway I could. I sat with them in waiting rooms. I brought them food. I kidnapped them to run out for lunch. Together we cried and screamed about having to go through this Hell.

I remember the day Siobhan was fired from her job. I remember the first time I finally met Derek. I remember the day he and Krystina got engaged. I remember tater tot casserole-date night. I feel we are truly blessed to have so many awesome memories with Derek and his family.

Derek made me cry when he asked if we would come watch him stand up for the first time. I literally choked up for a second. He said, "You have to be there. You're like family." And sure enough I teared up when he stood up for the first time, just like I did with Chaz.

Derek, Krystina, Chaz and I have sat around and discussed futures together. Chaz and I were reminiscing about the time when Derek asked us a gazillion questions about us. "How did you meet? How long before you were married? How did you know it was right?" Derek's questions kept coming and we happily answered them all. Derek is like a curious little brother to us and we were eager to help him any way we could. 

Our families go through so much on the road to the new normal. We bond through our tragedies. The last conversation I had with Derek will be the one that always sticks with me. He asked me if I ever thought all this sacrifice was worth it? And he confided in me that he feared a lifetime of health problems for Krystina, I and the other families to deal with it. We talked about how everyone handles this all differently. We talked about how America chooses to enjoy their ignorance. They choose to go to the mall rather than thinking about how to help those who sacrifice for them. I remember telling Derek that I had to chose to believe this is all worth it. He said that he agreed but that sometimes this fight really sucks. We laughed together because his statement was so true. I told Derek that I choose to believe God has a plan for us all. Today I still cannot understand how God could call him home so soon.

Goodbye Derek. Your fight is over. You fought so very hard for so long to stay with us. You demonstrated to us what a fighter truly is. You showed us the meaning of sacrifice. You defined what it means to be a Hero. Our family has been blessed to have had you in our life. You might be gone from our sight, but you will never be gone from our hearts. We still see your smile. We still hear your laughter. And we know you are now walking again in Heaven watching over all of us. You fulfilled the 10th Mountain mission. You completed your "Climb to Glory". We will always remember that it was "No Luck, Only Sacrifice." Rest easy soldier, your battle is done.