From the Ranch

From the Ranch

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.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Army Transition Team Furnishes Randy With Some Great Info

I know some of you will find it helpful too.  We have found that some wounds you carry for a life time.  Some can be readily seen by others and some cannot. 

Here is a link to their some of their info, hope some of you find it really helpful.

Finding Benefits is as Easy as 1 - 2 - 3!Browse Over 150 Fact Sheets for Benefit Eligibility and Highlights Calculate Estimates of Your Survivor and Survivor Education Benefits Forecast Your Retirement Benefits Special information is provided for severely injured Soldiers and their families in the Wounded Warrior section of the site and for surviving family members of fallen Soldiers in the Survivor Benefits section.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Have Been So Busy Loving My Soldier Since He Came Home, Mainly Killing Snakes...

Haven't posted in awhile, my husband has been home from war for 3 beautiful weeks now, and each moment of it I could not tare myself away from his presence.  His full service time as an active duty deployed Soldier will have lasted two years, two months, and fourteen days.  That is a significant amount of time, and I had not realized what a toll it had taken on me until he arrived home and I could not stop crying.  I didn't even remember what it was like to have someone, who stands by me with such devotion, here on a daily basis sharing the life we have built together, which survived more than a difficult time as my husband served, and now has even added new strength.

The challenges are, as we say in the medical profession, too many to count.  I endured many difficult situations, scary experiences, and personal threats of all kinds.  Snakes were in particular a difficulty, I really don't like snakes at all... none of them.  Some had no legs, and some had two.  Those with no legs were unnerving, had to be killed with a sharpen "straight hoe or the pellet gun," without me not being struck by their venomous fangs.  For those with two legs, the same principle applied.  Spiritual weakness has been represented by a snake as far back as my great, great, great, great, great,.. well you get it, as my grand-mother Eve.  However, just like the other snakes... I swiftly dispatched those as well, by using God's grace, mercy, and love.  

You have to  hunt some of them down, know which rocks they hide under, how to lure them out, and how to strategically eliminate them once they are exposed.  Every year in the early spring snakes make their way to our little homestead because it is an environment rich with the delights of a snake's heart, such as baby kittens, ducks, geese, chickens, and rabbits, all the "babies" of every spring.  In addition there are hundreds of potted plants, benches, fallen logs which have been made into various functional and fun structures and furniture, little bridges crossing the creeks, and paths through the cool woods.  We live in a very beautiful place, and it is hot here, with a humidity and temperature that snakes find inviting, just like our many visitors, and they would make themselves at home without a "plan to eliminate all threats to our beloved little ranch and retreat.  Things like the canoe turned over on the bank, the hot tub deck and above ground pool, the vegetable garden, and many beds of flowers make a lovely cool and damp "hidy hole," as my mother would say, for snakes, and are just the place they like to hide, waiting for the unsuspecting innocent to pass within their striking distance. 

Every spring we execute the strategic policy of my philosophy concerning snakes... "The only good snake is a dead snake," and systematically hunt down and kill everyone we can find.  Snake killing is not for the faint of heart, but I've never been a faint-hearted woman.  Neither the ones that crawl on their bellies or the two legged kind paralyze me with fear.  Neither non poisonous or poisonous give us pause, and together Randy and I hunt them down, expose them, and eliminate them with, to use a military term, "lethal force."  Randy shot and killed a cotton mouthed water moccasin yesterday as we worked near the pond with one shot between the eyes at about twenty feet, as he was swimming for dear life, and they are speedy little creatures as they zig-zag across the water, and a very difficult target to hit.  (He uses a pellet rifle when they are in the water.)  However, once I identified the snake and pointed it out to him the danger and threat,  he acted swiftly.  We make a really great team in all we do.

We drug him out of the water with a hoe, and it just so happened into an active "Taliban Ant Hill," (these ants are commonly known in Texas as "fire ants," however I will write tomorrow's blog on Taliban Ants, and you will know why we call them that.

It is a little after seven am, and I kept Randy up talking all night long about the delights of our life together, planning for the future, our families, prayers together to the Lord, and all the things that makes ours a romance for the ages...  More tomorrow and the latest spring pictures of Soldier's Heart Ranch.

Randy is finding once again, "Even a Soldier Needs a Quiet Place to Rest."  

Hope you each enjoy your day, ours will be delightful!  Can't wait to write of Smug, our new little white angoran rabbit, he follows Randy everywhere.  Watch my blog for new pictures, both from the Middle East, and the ranch.  I will also be posting the last segment of  Chapter 2 from my book, and the chapter where the good colonel learns of the "suicide" of one of his former Soldiers during the final week of the investigation of his unit, Major Marcus Steel, or was it a suicide?