From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Monday, September 26, 2011

The USO Has a Survey for Military Members

They wish to know how to better serve you, so take a minute to fill it out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is the Work My Husband is Involved In, Iraq is Worth It

I had a good, bad, day today.  You know one of those days where not everything goes well, and you just give into a little self pity.  You are so blessed in life however, that before the end of the day, God turns your negative attitude into something very beautiful.  That is the kind of day I had.

I miss my husband so much, even though I know how important what he is doing is.  Since confession is good for the soul, I have to admit I spent a little time crying today, I just miss being in his presence.  He is kind, funny, smart, and very hard working, and it always uplifts everyone working around and with him .  His life is inspirational, and he tends to bring out the best in others, to spark in them a desire to excel in their own lives and endeavors, and to "be all they can be." 

Don't get me wrong, I, better than anyone, know he isn't perfect because we have shared our minds that intimately.  You know, a naked mind is much more difficult than a naked anything else to share with another.  When two people can honestly know each others darkest failures, and still hold each other in the position of the highest regard of anyone in their lives, they have achieved an unbreakable relationship.  It will always sustain them both in all of life's darkest hours, and when a relationship with the Creator is glue that bonds them, an incredible thing occurs.  As the Bible says, "a three fold cord is not quickly broken." 

However, I want to be where he is, every minute of every day, always.  That isn't possible while he is doing this very important work in Iraq, but I signed on knowing exactly who my husband was, and what was required as his wife. Still... it is not an easy thing to be separated from the man I adore.  Whenever I start my little pity parties the Lord quietly whispers the words he gave me in a poem.  He gave them before I realized although Randy was retiring from the Army, God was not retiring him from service.  The words that God gave my heart when I thought he was coming home for good now haunt me whenever I start the little pity parties.


If there stood before me 1000 men,
Each of whose lives I had observed again and again.

If I had watched them closely at command,
Of Soldiers, equipment, and resources try to meet war’s great demands.

If I knew their lives, credentials, and previous work,
How they handled things, and I were privy to each little quirk.

If the fate of personal liberty, the freedom of us all,
Hung in the balance, and without the right leadership would forever fall.

If there would be before us, only one chance,
To meet in battle some terrible foe, and the art of war to dance.

If by the wisdom and expertise of only one man,
The defenses of our country would fail or stand.

If you, my love, stood among those men in their rows,
The one whom no other I have ever loved so.

If somehow it were my duty the right decision to deliver,
My mind could easily make the choice, but my heart would quiver.

If I knew the man I chose would never come home,
Could I give what it cost, the most valuable thing I own?

If in my decision, would the moral courage by which I have watched you live,
Empower me to do the right thing, and the sacrifice to give.

If as I considered all that lay in the balance, to me you would clearly state,
What your own choice would be and how you would face your fate.

If, as I know would happen, I knew who stood above the rest.
Could I, in selfishness, select the one who was second best?

If there stood before me 1000 men,
This I pray before God, that I never will know how it ends.

Our good friend, Cannon Andrew White has done much to educate both Randy and I as to the significance of Iraq in world history.  He also has begun to develop in us a love and respect for the beautiful people of Iraq.  While the world and every pondent voices their opinion on all that has gone on in Iraq, I think God has been the one in charge of everything that happened in Iraq.  In fact, I know He has.  I am certain of His love for the people of Iraq.  He has caused much to be given for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.  We, as the flawed people we are, think President Bush is responsible for the war in Iraq...  Not so, God chooses all kings, generals, presidents, and potentates of this world for His purposes alone, and He always knows exactly what He is doing.   Whether we can see it or not, His eternal purposes are moving forward precisely as He planned before He ever intended the atom and put any two of them together.  So read this article from the Huffington Post with a grain of salt, remembering it is written by a mere man, while The Living God in His wisdom really directs all that goes on in the universe anywhere.

Friday, August 12, 2011

God's Guardian Waiting to Welcome Home Navy Seal Team Six

He will as He promises, "bear them up on eagle's wings."  Farewell for now fallen heroes, we will see you again soon.  Thank you for all you gave for each of us.  We Will Never Forget!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sometimes I Connect With the Most Amazing People

Many of the people serving in our country's military represent all that is the best about our country.  Every day someone new comes into my life that leaves me astonished at the goodness that can be in people.  I would like to share two links to some of these astonishing people, who should make the rest of us soul search and earnestly ask God's help to meet the bar they set so high.

See this guys page on face book... send money, I am sure God will richly bless you.
The following is a copy of a post...

Randi Laird
For those of you that are new, We are Veteran Services Unlimited, Inc. We house brain damaged Combat Veterans and Terminally ill Vets. They are housed in a home not a flop house or VA facitlity. Donations may be made to: PayPal acct: or checks to VSU 4121 S. Georgia St., Amarillo, Texas 79110, C/O Citizens Bank. Thanks for all you do.
Some people just wake up every morning and live their lives in a way that is eternally significant.  They inspire me to endeavor to do the same.  What have you done today for a veteran...?  Considering what they have done for me, I must pledge anew to live, "above the common man." (MacArthur)

Friday, August 5, 2011

We Had a Great Time With Friends In Washington

My husband and I spent time together in Washington DC before he departed for his new assignment with the State Department this past week.  I so much enjoyed resting while he did his training for this position, and then in the evenings we enjoyed long and significant talks, relaxing in the hotel, seeing the sights of Washington, and dining out.  Over the weekend there was no required training classes, and one of the most refreshing and beneficial treats we savored was having lunch on Sunday with friends.  They have built a beautiful marriage which is approaching fifty years in length, and was forged and refined like gold in the fires of his service in the Army.

It takes a special man and woman with a rare relationship to stand the test of time and service.  My husband and I both admire this couple for so many reasons.  Their leadership is unequaled and unfailing.  That can be rare in the military as a service person rises in rank.  Having someone to look up to unquestioningly becomes more difficult as the intoxicating force of increasing power affects officers who may have once served from a self-less heart.  Changes can, almost without any sense of awareness, occur within anyone.  The pressures associated with enormous responsibilities, and being surrounded by people whose job it is to do your bidding and follow your every directive without question, are just two of the forces which can change men and women serving in the uppermost ranks.  These changes can make an individual more humble and aware of  just how grave the responsibilities and accountability are, or they can easily become just as ugly as any addictive abuse ever taken up by a man or woman, and just as destructive.  

The ability for the abuse of power is built into military service by the very nature of that service, and what is required of men and women who consent to make war in the defense of this nation and its' constitution.  Always, the military must self police for the abuse of power within their ranks. That "policing" falls to a smaller and smaller group as an officer advances in rank, and can create an incestuous "policing process."  In fact, the selection process for the next rank a Soldier attains becomes increasingly incestuous as well, as only those above you in rank can select officers.  There is a "boarding" performed by other officers who are one rank above a service person, which makes the selection from those qualified to be promoted.  

Americans, and especially all of us who "lend" our beloved family members to service, demand the most stringent adherence to honor in this self-policing and self appointing, as does the very privilege itself of serving.  However, I have observed that a man or woman strong enough to serve at the highest pinnacles without yielding to the intoxication is rare indeed.  I have also noted with shame that the principle of "going along to get along," seems to prevail as well.

The rarer leader, who because of unfaltering honor and integrity, does not make it as far in rank is always the one that others wish to follow.  They breed trust in all they encounter.   Such is the man whom we had lunch with on Sunday.  I must admit I have observed character flaws in my own husband, and I am sure they exist in our friend as well, which are of a personal nature, but in the grand scheme they are without much impact on the world.  (Sometimes my husband doesn't actually listen to me when I talk to him, he just smiles and nods yes, and sometimes he isn't careful, but rather runs with scissors, and he walks really fast and it is hard to keep up, ...those types of things.)   My husband too is one of those men of integrity of service.  He would not make any decision in service that he did not believe to be in the best interest of the mission and those under his command under any circumstances, even if it cost him personally.  I have watched him make and execute decisions that did just that, but they were the right decisions to make, and the right thing to do.  For that reason, and many others, I have a deep abiding admiration for him that knows no limits.  Our friend Alba has the same thing for her husband.

As I have watched my husband at command and in personal service, I have seen how necessary it is for him to have those in leadership in whom he finds that same quality.  I tell the reader again, that is harder to find all the time.  So on Sunday as we talked with our friends, and they shared memories of their lives of service and news of their present service, my husband found refreshment and encouragement.  I know it will empower him as he serves at the American Embassy in Iraq during this critical time.  When pressures for compromise assail him, as they surely will, knowledge of the fact that there does exist leadership which over a lifetime has never wavered, will give him strength and courage.  When things look impossible to achieve, but are essential to achieve, that same knowledge of uncommon leadership in our friends will unconsciously urge him to never give up , but to work beyond the impossible.  I am so grateful for men and women of such distinction and honor, and the benefit of watching their lives.

While the actual service of this man of leadership will be the capacitating  source of my husband's support, I do not believe it could have occurred without a factor that was undeniable in his living room that day.  That old cliche, "behind every good man..."  Well, you know the rest, and it may be a tired expression, but it is a powerful truth.  As I participated in the soothing conversation which encouraged me every bit as much as my husband, I took note, as I always do, of the dynamics between this couple.  His beautiful wife has a devotion, loyalty, and love which shines constant in her essence for her husband.  The stories of the challenges of this love over the years strike at my heart in waves of admiration and appreciation for her life and all she is.

Even more compelling are the waves of those same emotions and life long love that emanate  from him for her.  He doesn't have to proclaim that he could not have done it without her support, it is forever etched in his face and its' expression.   He loves her in a way that only a man who is never anything but lifted by a woman knows.  She is possessed of as much inner strength and courage, maybe even more, as he is.  She is as devoted to this country and self-less service as he is...  I take that back...  She is more devoted, and he above all others knows it.

My husband and I are so favored to know these two people; we have received so much from them, and did so again on Sunday.  So I offer the words of tribute that came to me in honor of the both of them.  They speak of her, but he will find delight in them, because he finds such delight and ennobling in her.  Thanks to the both of you for all you have stood for all these years.  I know I speak for the legions who are better because of your lives.

Rare and Remarkable Women

I watched as he lovingly gazed at her in their living room today,  
At her sweet face, earnest smile, and her hair's soft curls with their touch of gray.
He stared as though it were the first time that he had admired.
 Of this view, I realized, the powerful and honorable man never grew tired.

I knew of all the years she had devoted her life and love,
To the man of steel, who watched as though she were an angel from above.
It came to me that behind the men of his caliber that I am privileged to know,
Often from such a woman rare and remarkable love flows.

As she earnestly spoke of the topic of the moment, her hands moved with their usual grace.
His delight in this endearing quality was visible on his face.
All those gestures, which in more than forty years of devotion, had often been observed,
Still called to him to cling to her words, making sure each was heard.

In every endeavor he always sought council from those he knew to be wise and informed,
But he knew hers came, without exception, from a heart which to nothing but good would ever conform.
It had not been just to him she had given so much, she reached out to all, not just their own,
The legacy of her life would be that of great love when the Lord finally called her home.

Together they shared stories of the children who had been nurtured between them.
Many times his duties had taken him far from home, and she had soldiered on without him.
As they spoke with pride of each child and their accomplishments,
His demeanor spoke of where he knew so much of the credit earnestly went.

Often I have observed the same quiet tribute of love and admiration,
In the faces of the brave and self-less men who courageously give so much to this nation.
I knew why he lovingly gazed at her in their living room today,
At her sweet face, earnest smile, and her hair's soft curls with their touch of gray.

To all of the women reading this poem who recognize themselves, thank you for your service.  To all the men who know themselves to have the beautiful gift of such a woman in your lives, make sure she always knows her value.  The Bible says, "it is far above rubies..."



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ultimate Betrayal

This poem is dark.  It is about the ultimate betrayal of a Soldier.  A Soldier I know was assigned the duty of staying behind from a mission in Iraq in the barracks, and "watching" a young Soldier who had received a "Dear John" letter.  There was concern about his mental state.  The young Soldier spent hours trying to lift the spirits of the grieving Soldier, and had finally lain down on the cot in the room still talking to him, but not with his eyes directly on the Soldier.  When the shot rang out, two Soldiers were wounded, one fatally, and one with an invisible wound and images he will never erase.  

 Two things about this story bother me; first that someone without psychiatric training, credentials qualifying him, or actually the responsibility of this young mans mental welfare, was left with a grief and guilt that should never have been his to bear.  Of course there was an investigation to make sure that the surviving Soldier had not been derelict in his duty.  Even I know that Soldiers are never supposed to be given assignments for which they do not have professional training.  That is one of the reasons The United States of America can boast the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  I know the Soldier very well, and I would not have had to investigate, his life is a living testimony to devotion to duty.

The second thing is that a commander left this young man to become a victim of the commander's lack of skill to command, when surely he should have realized that his youth made him lack the knowledge, training and skill to prevent this tragedy.  In my opinion, that error in judgment screams that the commander was not qualified with the common sense and other skills critical to the position he held in a war zone, where so many lives hung in the balance of his decisions.  

Many advances in the care of a Soldiers mental health have been made since this incident, things might have gone differently today.  That being said, I am going to make a strange dedication with this poem  It is dedicated to all the wives, girl friends, husbands, and boyfriends, from the youngest through the oldest, of anyone serving in the military, who have ever cheated on a Service Person while they were deployed.  I wont cast any stones, I have no right, but during a deployment  You know who and what you arethe stories of your betrayals are legendary, and understand there are no excuses, and one day you will answer.  We all do for each and every act unless before The Living God who has offered the shedding of His blood as the ransom for all our sin, and who stands waiting in love to forgive you cry out for his forgiveness.  Like David, a man after God's own heart, who himself committed a form of this sin, you must ask God to wash you, cleanse your heart, and make it white as snow. 

 However, even though she may well have sought Gods forgiveness, I wonder if the young woman who penned that letter after her betrayal which the Soldier discovered on the internet, has ever had a peaceful nights sleep since. I think probably not.  

Betrayed Soldier

Smiling faces took my breath today,
Made me ask could she our love betray.

She said she meant to take the images away.
That told me she knew it was wrong that day.

The pictures were made on a day in May,
All this time she had allowed them to stay.

She will never know the price I have had to pay,
While I went to war and she stayed.

My heart aches and I cant hold the tears at bay,
I feel loneliness has been my constant companion always,

This pain holds me captive in its sway.
I cannot escape; my world has gone dark and gray.

Her words to me a love story do not portray.
I think never will I feel loved again in any way.

I cannot in this world I am in, where all there seems to be is pain,
See within myself or anywhere, something I have the desire to gain.

Daily all around me there are those who escape this world's ultimate despair.
In this solitary place I have the means and courage their fate to share.

To anyone who has ever faced this kind of pain I would with passion and a love that comes to me for you from my Father, and which makes me stagger in awe of it's depth, promise there is an answer.  The Keeper of the Stars is waiting His love and care to pour out on your broken and bleeding heart.  One of His eternal, magnificent names is The Great Physician.  He is your only hope and salvation, and He never fails.  The power of His love is everlasting, just as you are.  To quote one of my favorite authors, You do not have a soul, you are a soul, you have a body.  I would say to you also, without question, you too will exist somewhere eternally.  Leaving this life you will only step out into your eternal life.  It is Gods greatest desire, the thing for which He made the truly ultimate sacrifice, to spend that eternal existence with you in His presence, and at the center of His unfathomable love.  God will help you through this, suicide is an act of rebellion and a demonstrates a lack of faith in God.  If you will trust Him, He will meet your every need, he will heal your heart, and restore you joy in living.  God knows each of our unique needs, and always validates the worth to Him of each individual by bringing His divine power, grace, mercy, and tender love to meet those needs.  He will not only see you through this, but bring good from the experience if you will but trust Him.  God is not a liar or deceiver, and His love motivates all He does.

Please, if your world is dark and gray, call me day or night, send me an email, just contact me in some way.  I know with certainty of His love for you personally, because by His grace and love, I am His daughter.  How humbling it is, how glorious and too wonderful it is, to live in that happiness and assurance, and the privilege of being the daughter of The Eternal God.  Because of this relationship, nothing can overcome me.  Pain and suffering may come, but it will not overcome me.  I know my Father, and all His ways.  His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  I would love to share with you all He has done for me personally, all I have seen Him do for others.  One of my dear earthly fathers favorite scriptures is found in Isaiah 41.

Fear thou not: for I am with thee; be not dismayed: for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea I will help thee: yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

None of us ever need make the journey of this life alone He always has grace and love sufficient for whatever comes to our lives, and unlike those around us, He is incapable of failing us. If as so many Soldiers and others do, you find yourself betrayed and with a broken heart, throw yourself without reservation on The Rock of Your Salvation.  You will not need strength, you will not need courage, you will not need wisdom, and He will never require you to lift yourself up by your bootstraps.  His all powerful arms will lift you to heights you have never known; as you realize the depth of His love for you.  You will find too that one of Gods favorite things is to restore the years of the locust.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More News For Wounded Warriors and Their Families

Please pass along that if you are a survivor, and your Service member was stop-lossed after September 11th, 2001, you may be entitled to receive retro-active stop-loss payments. Learn more and view President Obama's Message here: You may be
eligible to receive $500 for each month/partial month your Service member
served in stop loss status. Service members, veterans, and beneficiaries of
Service members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss
between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 30, 2009.

Of note today:

DOD, VA Agree To Develop Joint Electronic Health Record System. In
continuing coverage, the New York Times
A12, Dao, Subscription Publication, 950K) reports, "For many years, service
members who were leaving the military have had to worry about whether their
medical records would be properly transferred from one vast computer network
in the Defense Department to another in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Now, the two departments have agreed to develop a joint computerized system
for health care records that could provide a single source of data on a
veteran's health from enlistment through death, officials said," adding that
the agreement was made early this month by DOD Secretary Robert Gates and VA
Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Former Army Wounded Warrior Fights for Employment with Help of the National
Organization on Disability (NOD
). Army AW2 Veteran Danelea Kelly had
two tours in Iraq, one in 2005-2006 and again in 2007-2008. Kelly praised
AW2 and NOD, when they arranged for her to speak about her experiences with
members of Congress. AW2 and NOD have been assisting her in finding the
right resources, such as financial and career and education assistance.
Kelly has been outspoken about her struggles with PTSD and finding
employment. She talked about the importance of programs like AW2 and NOD,
and asked Congress to expand these programs.

US Army Carries Out Pre-Memorial Day Tradition At Arlington National
Cemetery. NBC Nightly News
story 12, 0:30, Williams) broadcast video of a "Memorial Day weekend
tradition: A ceremony that's been carried out every year since 1948 by the
Army's Third Infantry Regiment called 'Flags In'."

Website Offers Virtual War Memorial Tours. In a column for Government
Computer News

(5/27), Kevin McCaney notes that while the original purpose of Memorial Day
is to "remember all those who have given their lives in military service to
the country," it also is the "unofficial start of summer," so families will
have plans. In "that case, you can still observe the day in other ways, one
of them being a virtual tour of one or more of the websites attached to the
nation's war memorials.

Citigroup Announces Mortgage Relief Program For Military Homeowners. In a
story for the Huffington Post
(5/27), Chris Birk, "director of communications for the VA Mortgage
Center, which specializes in VA loans for veterans and active duty service
members," says military homeowners, who "have taken a beating the last few
months at the hands of some of the country's largest mortgage lenders," are
"just now finally starting to catch a break.

House Passes Defense Bill Containing Slight TRICARE Increase. The Washington
(5/27, Pincus) reports, "The House passed
overwhelmingly Thursday a $690 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal
year 2012 that fully funds operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and limits
President Obama's authority to deal with Guantanamo detainees and to reduce
the number of nuclear weapons." The bill also "includes a 1.6 percent pay
increase for service personnel and, though it increases the amount
working-age military retirees will have to pay for their TRICARE health
care, it would result in lower future fee increases than Defense Secretary
Robert M. Gates was seeking."

Koby J. Langley, JD, CM

Senior Adviser

Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy (WWCTP)

4000 Defense Pentagon, Room 5A688A

Washington, DC 20301-4000

Ph: 571-256-4035

WWCTP Blog -

Wounded Warrior Resource Directory -

If in This Economy You Are Looking For a Job...

Here's some great tips passed on by the Ft. Benning Warrior Transition Unit to Soldiers and others changing jobs or careers...

 Interview Tips

So, you've got the interview! Here are some basic tips on succeeding in a job interview:

1.      Google the company and visit the company's website to fully research the company before the interview.
2.      Check what is the range of salary for your industry and job title. (Try or

3.      Dress smartly or smart casually depending on the type of company and position you applied for.

4.      Avoid cancelling an interview; arrive on time.

5.      Turn your cell phone off.

6.      Be nice to everyone - receptionist secretary and anyone else you meet. They'll talk and influence!

7.      Shake hands firmly.

8.      Be yourself; don't show anxiety; act self-assured and with confidence.

9.      Have an appropriate, job-related short answer to "Tell me about yourself."

10.     Don't interrupt the interviewer. Don't monopolize the interview or bore the interviewer with too much unnecessary information.

11.     Be ready to address the question of why you are leaving/have left your former company.

12.     Ask the question "what happened to the person who was formerly in this job?"

13.     If you are interviewing with someone who will be your boss, as her/him "what is your management style and what is the organization's culture?"

14.     Always let the interviewer bring up the salary thing.

15.     If they ask you what salary you are looking for, hedge. Ask them what range is the job paying. If they say $60,000 to $65,000, you can say, 'I was really looking for $65,000 to 75,000"

16.     Discuss job advancement opportunities within the company.

17.     At the end of the interview, ask "when and how would you like me to follow up?"

18.     Send a thank you note a couple of days after the interview.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Must Pass This On...

I received this message today from my sister-in-law.  I wept... you should too...

No one has been able to explain to me why young
men and women serve in the U.S. Military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting freedom, and only get 50% of their pay. While Politicians hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these same men and women, and receive full pay retirement after serving one term. It just does not make
any sense.

Monday on Fox news they learned that the staffers
of Congress family members are exempt from
having  to pay back student loans. This will get
national attention if other news networks will
broadcast it. When you add this to the below,
just where will all
of it stop?

35 States file lawsuit against the Federal Government

Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the
Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens
upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to
convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you
agree, please pass it on.

This is an idea that we should address.

For too long we have been too complacent about the
workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that
members of Congress could retire with the same pay
after only one term, that they specifically exempted
themselves from many of the laws they have passed
(such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for
sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live
under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves
from the Healthcare Reform... in all of its forms.
Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have
an elite that is above the law.
I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican,
Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

If each person that receives this will forward it on to
20 people, in three days, most people in The United
States of America will have the message.. This is one
proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States
Constitution: "Congress shall make no law that applies
to the citizens of the United States that does not apply
equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and,
Congress shall make no law that applies to the
Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply
equally to the citizens of the United States ..."

You are one of my 20+

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just to Make Each Veteran Aware of Our Offered Hospitality

When my husband and I first found this little ranch in Texas, we knew we were supposed to live here, and to share this rural home with other military and their families.  We are approaching our fifth wedding anniversary, and words from one of the songs our daughter Rebecca sang at our wedding,"The Warrior is a Child," are painted on a large blue heart with gold stars hanging on the gate.  The words by Twila Paris are, "even a Soldier needs a quiet place to rest."  The speaks of how those serving in the military need to know that God knows of their service and all that it requires.  God has always loved and valued Soldiers in a special way.  I love all the Old Testament references to The Mighty Men of Valor, and of course to David being "a man after God's own heart."  I believe this is true of God because of a special "willingness" I wrote of in one of my earlier blogs.

We love sharing our home and the three little cabins here with others, and all military and their families can be our guests at no cost.  We aren't fancy, we live in a humble place, whose greatest asset is God's own beauty and design in a rural setting.  The wild life here is incredible, and deer and dove hunting are available as well as fishing in our well stocked pond.

The proceeds from our Bed and Breakfast operation for the general public support our hospitality to the military.  The no cost stay applies to those who no longer serve, but who have served any time during The War on Terror as well.  Later this evening I will post new updated pictures of our little ranch and the animals who live here with us.  Of course you should not forget my cooking is legendary...

Call us at 979-865-8919, or 832-385-0798 for your reservations, like the old commercial I loved use to say, "we'll leave the porch light on for you."

Warriors in Transition

The above image is shared by John Gariano, USMC Recon, I think it is really befitting the upcoming Remembrance Day.

As my husband has returned from war we have discovered that while on the battle field as "Man of Steel," the body of the human being was taking a beating.  He is the kind of Soldier never to complain, first to faithfully perform PT, and work until the work is performed with excellence.  Seems that is hard on your thyroid, your back, and especially your knees.  I was horrified to read an imaging report with the phrase, "bone on bone with bone marrow exposure."

Of course, he first had issues with his left knee back in 2005, but when the VA doctor who did his physical did not make any recommendations, he, being the good Soldier he is, took that to mean, "Soldier on," that's just the way it is, and so he did.

As so many of you know, navigating the system to receive the benefits due  a Soldier is no small or easy task, and it takes sometimes years.  The government has admitted this is unacceptable and is struggling to up-grade an over burdened system.  My husband was sent the following excerpt from The Washington Post, and if you know a Soldier in need of information, especially one who was wounded early on in this conflict, encourage them to contact their VA representative again.  If that doesn't work, give us a shout, we will be glad to pass on our contacts and the latest information as we receive it.  

Memorial Day is coming up soon, my husband will be giving a speech in Sealy, Texas, located on I10 outside of Houston about an hour, and directly under heaven, so if you get a chance, catch his speech.  He never fails to disappoint, as he is a man of few words, and much more action, and when they speak, it is always worth hearing.

Here's the excerpt, it is encouraging, but we must all lobby for our Service Members.

Excerpt from Early Bird News

Washington Post

May 19, 2011
Pg. B4

Benefits For Wounded Vets Still Lag

New system is an improvement, officials tell Congress

By Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press

A new system to help wounded troops get disability compensation more efficiently has instead kept them in the military longer than intended, preventing some from taking job offers and starting college as they wait on average more than a year for a claim to be processed, Congress learned Wednesday.

William Lynn, deputy defense secretary, and W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told the Senate Veterans' Committee that the new program is significantly better than the old system, which they say took on average 540 days to complete.

But they acknowledged improvements are needed. Lynn said it could take a year or two before the average processing time goal - 300 days - is met.

"It has not reached the goal we've set of 300 days so we have further distance to go, but we don't plan to stop there," Lynn said.

The system is called the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. It started as a pilot in 2007, but has since been introduced at nearly 80 military installations. By this fall, about 140 installations are expected to participate, completing the rollout. It works by consolidating the required medical exams and ratings, so that a service member doesn't have to go through the disability claims process first in the military and then through the VA.

Congress pushed the system following the 2007 scandal over poor living conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which highlighted the complexities of the disabilities claims system. Some wounded veterans were left in dire financial straits as they waited for compensation from the VA, and there frequently were inconsistencies in how troops' injuries were evaluated in the two systems.

The new program's goal is to get warwounded troops and others with disabilities through the system in a little more than nine months on average. But March figures show it only met that goal about 15 percent of the time for active-duty troops, 28 percent for those in the reserves and 40 percent for the National Guard, according to documents obtained by the Senate panel. It is taking nearly 400 days on average for a service member to go through the system.

More than 5,800 troops have completed the new system, while more than 13,700 are currently using it.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the committee, said she was concerned that troops lingering in the system are falling through the cracks and aren't able to move on quickly. She said 13 troops going through the system have committed suicide or died from drug overdoses.

Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the committee's ranking Republican, said he couldn't help but wonder if the old bureaucratic system has just been replaced with another.

A staffing shortage appears to be one of the challenges. The goal is for each case manager to manage 20 troops, but the ratio at some bases is one manager for every 130 service members, documents show.

Gould said that for some service members, remaining in the military longer with access to many of its resources isn't necessarily a bad thing. But, he said, it was important for troops to be discharged at a time that works best for them. Despite improvements still needed in the new system, he said it is absolutely better " than the one we're leaving behind."


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There is a Soldier Coming Home to a New Daughter

Aunty Brat, my good friend and fellow supporter of the American and Coalition Forces sent me a note about a Soldier coming home on leave to see for the first time a new baby girl, born while he was deployed.  It brought such beautiful images to my mind immediately, and when I went to Aunty's blog and saw her picture... my heart just melted at her sweet little self.

To her parents and all her family, thanks for making my day, and thank you all for your service and sacrifice!  We are a grateful nation!

This is what I sent to the new baby and all those who love her.  May she thrive in your love, always live in liberty, and come to know of your sacrifices to the preservation of freedom.

You know, if Aunty Brat says you are a special Soldier... you must indeed be a special Solider. It is always difficult for me to put into words how I feel about Soldiers and their families. When I try to open a ketchup package, and it is difficult for me, the thought never fails to cross my mind, no matter how much I love my country, if it had to depend on me for for some of the most important of the protection needed from it's enemies, we women would all be wearing burqas (spelling ?) We must have young men and women of the caliber and skills which you possess, or our heritage of freedom will disappear.... As the sign on my gate says, "Land of the free, because of the brave."

Since my husband went to war, poetry concerning this great conflict has haunted me until I express it. Your homecoming to your new daughter caused beautiful images in my mind. I wrote words that I hope will comfort and empower your family as you serve. So here is my gift to the new baby:

I Came Home to My Daughter

There she lay, so warm, pink, soft, and sweet.
When first we finally did meet.

I saw so much of her mother there in her eyes,
The stamp of my own features on her countenance threatened to make me cry.

Wonder at the first sight of my darling daughter,
Swept my soul, and I knew my life she would forever alter.

Feelings too tender for the battlefield,
In that moment caused all my vigilance briefly to yield.

Then I realized more clearly than ever before,
I was called to war because of an evil good people everywhere deplore.

My newborn child and all the children of the world,
Need those of us in service, the flag of liberty to unfurl.

In my daughter’s face I saw the hope of our world and our nation,
Waiting for her contributions, which true peace will hasten.

I knew that in a land far away, where long I had stood the wall,
Children were seeing first hand our intent in the service of us all.

As they watch, I know they too will learn,
Their own hearts for peace and liberty will come to yearn.

In this the power of the enemy will disappear,
The truth of all our brotherhood will finally do away with all fear.

So though my heart longs to stay,
I will again return to the war zone in just a few short days.

In my mind, images of her gentle beauty,
Will give me strength and bring complete commitment to my sacred duty.