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,


Mesa Wendy said...

I am misty. I so feel for you, for all of you.

Louis said...

Dear C,
I can't believe it's been a year.
The military uses guys up and then says "you're
on your own. Nothing has changed much since
I got home.

Take care
Lou Arcarese

Tracy said...

To all of you. I can't imagine the embrace each of you had with Nate. The only thing I can imagine is the deep love that was emitted. I'm VERY happy to hear you made it safely and you were able to surprise him! I hope his spirits were lifted for awhile with the visit, package and good news.

mk said...

Dear Charilyn:
I saw the HBO special last night and ...I cried my eyes out for the mothers and fathers and for the these young men. I too have a son who is an ex-marine and by the Grace of God all is well with him-- But my heart aches when I hear the stories of the ones who are not.
...I prayed for your son last night, and I will remember him in my prayers until he is back home again.
God Bless you, keep the faith.

Magda K.

cl5940 said...

Mrs Charilyn,
A couple of months ago I watched the HBO special about your son, and all the men and women in the armed forces, and my heart breaks every time I think about it. I have followed Nate's blog that you set up since then. My brother leaves Monday for Marine bootcamp and I am scared to death, he's only 20. I'll never tell him that, but I am so worried about him. I will continue to have you and your family in my thoughts.

Erin Lyn Marchand