From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Lost It!

You know, when I heard that once again there was "a shooter on Ft. Hood," I lost it.  I had been shopping at Walmart, and as my daughter Meredith called to tell me of the situation, and that the young Soldier who was my son-in-law for many years was once again "sheltering in place" on that installation, the world around me grew surreal.  Everything went into slow motion, and as I observed those people gathering items and putting them in their carts, as though everything in the world was fine and dandy, I realized I was only about two hours away from Ft. Hood where the situation was occurring.  The men and women being wounded and killed were not in some foreign country somewhere far away, they were being wounded and dying two hours away from where I slowly pushed my cart through a Walmart, barely able to check out my purchases, as I realized that it was happening again.

I like to think of myself as a tough old Army wife, veteran of multiple deployments, experienced and capable in managing the knowledge that people I love are often in countries where they are targets of raging enemies full of hatred.  I am aware too, that there is a monster among our troops, PTSD, which sometimes takes hostage their brothers and sisters.   This illness can in fact threaten their safety as well as the safety of those of their brothers and sisters in arms who suffer this debilitating illness.  I have educated myself, keep pamphlets in the desk, 800 numbers on the frig, and we open our home to the military and their families as a place to get away for a while from the stresses related to service in our Military.  I want to think I am strong enough and have made sure to take advantage of the training and information available through the Army to successfully manage having a loved on in service.  I like to think that because I have gone even much further than that, to study and research the stresses which our Military face, to advocate for their care and support, because I realize that not all is as it should be, or as our government promises that it will be, concerning concerning their care.  I felt that knowledge and experience had given me the needed skills to respond to most of the situations military families face, but as I trembled and fumbled with the items in my cart, I was completely unaware of my surroundings.  I was only two hours away from dying Soldiers, from a Soldier who would take his own life, no longer able to cope, a Soldier who was known to have mental health issues.

I was able to speak with William, who was sheltering in place, and learn that he was safe, but that did not quiet my trembling, or stop the silent tears which began and lasted the thirty minute drive home.  I could not quite identify what they were about, they seemed to be about everything since 911.  Certainly they were about "another shooter at Ft. Hood  My daughter went to Ft. Hood in 1999, where she served for six years, and there she met William, a young Soldier too, and they were married.  After 911, Beth left Active Duty to serve in the civilian sector at Ft. Hood, and she continues in that area of service with the Army Corp of Engineers.  Their marriage recently dissolved, in part due to the strain of four deployments to the Middle East, which were early on, fifteen months in duration.  

I have another son-in-law who while stationed at Ft. Hood and deployed to Iraq , was seriously wounded, and he can no longer serve.  He misses service in the military every day, he would have been a "lifer," but as it was, twelve years were proudly given.  As I considered all my loved ones, friends, and extended family who have at one time or another called Ft. Hood home, and remembered all the times I have visited the installation and observed the sons and daughters of this country busy at their professional and heart calling to service in our Military, I continued to tremble.

At some point on the drive home, I began trying to get hold of myself.  Phone calls were coming and going concerning the situation, and I began considering all the ramifications which this incident was going to produce.  I began to try and exercise my willpower to bring my emotions into control, so that I might be able to help and comfort those directly affected by this senseless tragedy.

I have regained my composure, began the thinking concerning what the needs are going to be, and how long those needs were going to continue, and to consider how this could have happened.  I fear that there are places where blame lies.  I fear that there were things that could have been done, and should have been done, and they were not.  One thing I am certain of, while I am not directly affected, I am an American citizen, protected everyday by Soldiers serving at Ft. Hood, Texas, and I owe them my support, and I am obligated to demand answers concerning any short comings which occurred.

I will be writing about "another shooter at Ft. Hood" until I am certain that those affected have recovered, and all that can be done to prevent this from ever occurring again has been implemented, and is faithfully being administered.  For now, their are wounds to be bound, and I am not speaking of physical, and visible wounds, I am speaking of those wounds of the soul, which are sometimes more difficult to treat than the physical kind.

Before all else, my first action was to go to prayer before the Father, whose heart is always toward Soldiers, those who are willing to lay down their lives for another.  Father God understands laying down a life for another, and holds that act as the highest example of love and honor.  The next thing I have done toward this sacred duty is to call in order to obtain the mailing addresses where funds and resources can be sent in order to meet the immediate needs of those families affected by this tragedy.  I am going to share those resources as soon as the correct information is confirmed.  I hope to be of service to these families in many ways, after all, I am only two hours away.