Saturday, February 26, 2011
26 February 2011
One year ago today we watched Nate get sentenced and sent to state prison. Matthew O'Neill (from HBO Documentaries) was there with us that day in court, and the emotions we felt were captured in the HBO documentary Wartorn: 1861 - 2010, which was released on Veterans Day. (Click here for the link to the HBO site).
It was difficult to watch the film for the first time (at the Pentagon, no less) and re-live our emotions. But as we have had opportunity to share Nate's story we have been able to meet other families who are going through similar battles here at home. Today we met a Blue Star Mom from Washington state in the airport. Her son is currently serving with the Army in Afghanistan. She mentioned that she could not wait until he was home in 3 months and finally safe. Before we left I said, "Watch him when he gets home -- make sure he's really safe." Isn't it sad that our kids aren't really safe even when they get back from combat? Our country needs this awareness! We are slowly seeing changes -- from the public service announcements by Medal of Honor recipients, to the USMC Commandant's acknowledgment that they are treating combat injuries differently, to the gradual increase of Veterans Courts that are emerging. We pray that this generation of combat veterans will receive better treatment and understanding than those of previous generations. We are also closer than ever to establishing a support network for families who have been affected by post-combat trauma. We have received the approval from our sponsoring agency and are now working on our website.
We were able to visit Nate for 3 days this weekend. He had forgotten that we were coming on Thursday, so we were able to "surprise" him! Then we gave him the news that the VA had ruled favorably in his case, treating him as if he were honorably discharged and restoring all his benefits. He is so pleased with that news! He kept referring back to it throughout our visit, often while we were on another subject, which was comical. He called a little while ago to see how our flight home was going (we're on a layover in Denver) and told us that the package I ordered for him last week had arrived. He said that between our visit, the news from the VA, and the package arriving that this has been the best week he's had in a really long time. Yeah!
Our own emotions are still all over the map. Getting the news from the VA and hugging Nate were definitely high points. It's almost impossible to describe how good we felt Wednesday and Thursday. Saying goodbye today was tough. I didn't want him to see me crying, but I couldn't hide it. I'm glad he called so that he knows I'm all right. He said I even made the lady in charge of the visiting room a little teary. I worry about him worrying about me!
We'll continue to take one day at a time. One year is over; if all goes well we have just a little more than three years left.
I know I say it every time, but I cannot begin to tell you how much we appreciate your prayer, friendship, and ongoing support.
Until next time,