Sunday, February 28, 2016

My WHAT = My Mission

I figured out my Why.. It took some hard soul searching to figure that out.. Between the PTSD and depression, I was constantly having suicidal thoughts. I couldn't think of a strong enough reason to continue.. I was lacking purpose. Imagine playing a game where you have rules and they have rules and the rules keep changing and there is no defined goal so there is no way to know if you are winning or loosing... can you imagine the frustration.? That is what I was up against.. For me to continue, I had to find my WHY. Thankfully I did..

The next step was to define the WHAT... This might sound crazy to some but there is a logic in my order... "What you do in life isn't as important as WHY you do it". think about that... Its about motivation... Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons can lead to disaster.. That is why I put WHY before WHAT.

Those who know me will tell you that I have a desire to help. To serve others above self.. That is a quality that was instilled in me in the Army.. This is a picture of our Unit Crest. 4bn/23d Infantry Regiment.

That covers a lot of ground.. I needed to define a smaller target. AIM SMALL. MISS SMALL.
I had spent a lot of time and energy fighting all the different enemies. I came to the conclusion that those issues won't change until society changes them. Part of the mission is to have a defined goal. I had to figure out what was Most important to me.. Yes, I still care about all the same things as before but the difference is now I'm focused on what matters the Most to me..

The Veterans Administrations website says this...

Mission Statement

To fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.
I plan to help them with Their mission..
I have decided to start a non profit Veterans Advocacy organization with the expressed goal of seeking out, motivating and overcoming the obstacles Veterans encounter when seeking the services they earned.  In the next couple of months I will be building the infrastructure of this organization.. Developing the website, blog, paypal, literature, filing for 501-c3 status and building relationships with a couple of congressmen.. among other things... let me tell you what I've got in mind..
In my time here at the VA hospital I have learned some disturbing things.. They are understaffed. less than 50%. They placed me in the Homeless program instead of the PTSD program because this facility gets more funding that way..  In the last 7 yrs this facility has changed the PTSD program 5 times. Just these three issues are cause for alarm.. The problem is systemic and needs to be addressed at the Congressional level. I plat to take my experience here as far as The Secretary of the VA. Change is needed but it must come from the top down.. 
I'm still going to travel.. I still have a large network of people who believe in me. I plan to increase the reach of the organization to achieve these goals. Lets say, A Veteran has a substance abuse problem. Maybe he needs information. I can help. Maybe he needs transportation, I can help. Maybe he needs direction, I can help. Maybe he needs some motivation, we can help. Maybe he needs a bit of financial support to make treatment an option. we can help. (there are many who have become dependent on VA issued pain drugs. its not just alcohol). Now for the twist.. what if we task that Veteran with evaluating the VA.? (he's already doing it in his mind). As an undercover operative they can gain valuable intelligence about the programs and facilities. The best intel comes from "boots on the ground". I'm talking about questionnaires with defined questions related to the services he is there for. Is there enough staff.? Facility conditions? A way to rate the level of service. We can then compile that information as a report to the leadership of the VA. If they choose to disregard the information, we have what is necessary to go public. The objective is to improve the system. 
Compendium of Standards, Codes, and Principles of Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations.
This is The standard for non-profits that is my guide.
Charity Navigator is the site that rates Non Profit organizations
my goal is a 4 star rating. 
This is the mission I have chosen to be my lifes work. Helping others individually and collectively improving our future..
Thank you..
I posted this last night.. This morning I was told that I was being discharged from The VA hospital... I don't believe in coincidence....

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I found my WHY.

on 21 December, 2015, I checked myself in to the Carl Vinson VA med center in Dublin, Ga. Not knowing at the time that this specific hospital was ranked in the bottom 20% of all the VA facilities.. I was at the end of my rope. I had been talking with my closest people for about a year in regards to seeking help with my issues. It was often the case that a Veteran would warn me away from the VA based on their own experiences. My friends in the Infantry and Special Forces communities advised against the VA and suggested that I seek help from the non- profits and civilian markets. The only knowledge I had of the VA was what I had seen in media and information from these confidants. The only knowledge I had of this facility was that my grandfather had passed away here from old age, many years ago..

I needed help.. My life had been a continual exercise of bad decisions with a few moments of easy sailing.. Unsteady work history, broken relationships, drinking in excess and too many episodes of using drugs to cope with life. Trust issues, abandonment issues, major depression, insomnia and its opposite. Nightmares and visions in horrifying details. Sleeping like a guard dog when I could sleep. I distanced myself from everyone who actually cared. It was easier to isolate than to explain what I was going through. Suicidal thinking would turn into planning. The depression and inability to deal with society would drive me to extremes. My temper, my training and my lack of anger management was driving me to a very dangerous place.The highs of my public life looked good on paper but the reality was that I was nothing more than a shell of a man. Near death experiences multiple times, was not enough to turn my mind around. I knew from online testing that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. so I sought help.

Nobody knew. I had not told one person. Not family. Not friend. There was no one who knew what I was going through. Some knew that I had problems because of what they saw in me but they didn't know why. I don't blame them.. It took me almost 3 decades to get even a little understanding.. Those relationships are now a salvage operation that I hope and pray to be successful with. Let me get back to my WHY.

I found my WHY. Here at the VA. No, I'm not fixed by any stretch of the imagination. Medication has helped with the depression and cleared my mind enough to focus on a purpose.. A mission in Life, you might say. Through all the disfunction of the system, I became able to focus on a goal. Imagine for a moment that you walk through a door. on the other side of that door is a new world of all things are possible. The only thing that can limit you is yourself. You have no pressure from anyone to do or be anything. All the choices are before you. For me, I had to make a choice because turning back was not an option. I needed to find my purpose. My first step was finding out who I AM.

I call myself a Christian. I'm not a religious man but I do know that I have a God. I have Hope and Faith because of my beliefs. My relationship with my Creator has never been what it should be and there have been many times that I have acted as if we had no relationship at all. Because of the many death and near death experiences I've had, I know my God has a plan for me. He could have "called me home" many times but He chose not to. That tells me that I am here for a reason. My Bible says that mans purpose is to glorify God. I've known that for 40yrs but have not devoted my life to it. Yeah, I've helped a few people but glorifying my Creator was like a side note..  Beyond all that is wrong with me, I know, I have good in my heart. I've been a Sheepdog most of my life. Watching out for the flock and addressing the wolf every time.. I will continue because that is part of who I am. But there is more to me than just that. I have a vision of the time I meet my Creator. I will kneel before His thrown and present to Him my crown. In that crown will be all the good that I have done. I think of feathers in my cap. "Well done my good and faithful servant". is what I hope to hear.. As of today, I'm afraid He would say, "You've done some good but you were far below your potential".

That is My WHY. It wasn't a burning bush moment. It wasn't a great voice from the sky. It was something completely normal.. for the first time in over thirty years, no drugs. no alcohol. no plan. no expectations. no court order. no self imposed pressures. no standards to meet. no timeline to beat. I got to know me to the core. and there was more of me that i didn't like than I had ever known.  I question my motivation. Why am I making this choice in life.? I've been learning a lot about myself by questioning my motivation.. by asking Why. The question I asked myself was this... Am i motivated by my fear of hell or the rewards of Heaven??. yeah.. tough question.. Here is what I came up with.. neither.. I don't fear hell. Doesn't matter how horrible you paint that picture, I'm not motivated by fear... Nor am I motivated by the rewards of Heaven. If the rewards of Heaven motivate you to do right then you miss the point that salvation is a gift and it can't be earned. I asked myself, If Heaven were full, would I still strive to glorify God.? My answer is yes.

"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear.? -Proverbs 18:14

Now that I have found my WHY... It's time to move on to the WHAT..

Sense my time here I have witnessed a shit ton of problems with the VA system and this location specifically. First off, day one. I was placed in the 90 day Homeless Program after telling them that I was there for PTSD. A 42 day program. It took me 5 weeks of knocking on doors to get set up for a PTSD evaluation and assessment. Each week I was threatened with expulsion from The Homeless Program because I was not concentrating on housing and employment. The laundry list is long but I won't bore you with all the specifics here and now.. You can trust that in the near future all that information will be compiled for dissemination.. Failures in medical care, mental care, program policies and changes.. From a "report card" standard... The care and services I have received in the last two months have been less than failing and border on criminal.

At the nurses station. To see a dr. or nurse or dietitian you are directed to take a seat. No one to check in with as to why you are there. No next in line numbers . Just sit and wait . . Can you imagine a civilian medical practice operating this way..?

Bitching never improved anything... Well, except I did get three tattered flags retired here just by bitching... so let me restate that... "Bitching only improves the little stuff"..
There is a whole lot of big stuff that needs to be fixed.. and we don't have time to doddle. Lives are at stake..
22.5 million Veterans in America
on any given night, 300,000 Veterans are homeless living on the streets or in shelters
250,000 Veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD
Substance abuse among Veterans is beyond measuring...

Stay tuned.. The next article will be "My WHAT plan"

until then,