Silent, Holy Night

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Hard to believe that another Christmas season is now upon us.  The beautiful lights and carols, the festive decorations, the fun of being with family and friends, and the craziness of shopping that can be more NO, NO, NO, than HO, HO, HO.

With all of the splendor and frenzied activities of the holidays, PTSD and dealing with other wounds of war can be a daunting challenge for many vets. 

There is this incredible Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde phenomenon that occurs for many this time of year.  The joy of being home with loved ones along with the constant struggle to breathe through the nightmares and panic attacks. 

Crowded shopping centers, constant bustle everywhere, and traffic jams that defy the patience of the calmest celestial being are not so wonderful for frayed and fragile nerves.

Perhaps the only gift many of our wounded warriors pray for is Peace.  Peace on Earth, Peace across all continents, and most of all, Peace within oneself. 

It is for this reason that we created a special tribute to our veterans and their families.  During this blessed Holiday Season, let us take a few moments to remember the sacrifice of our military – both past and current – and their families. 

May each night truly be a peaceful Silent, Holy Night. 

Click on the link below to view our special Christmas tribute.

Advice for When a Soldier is Away

Filed Under Light A Candle | Comments Off on Advice for When a Soldier is Away

dear-lord-boy-dogWhat would you do if your spouse or loved one had to leave for a year or more? Not for a new job or long vacation, but to a place where danger abides in guns & rockets, roadside bombs, ambushes, and other mediums of war. Only a small percentage of today’s Americans have experienced this scenario. For those who do, each individual and family survives such an event differently. Knowing the availability of resources can provide comfort and reassurance at home during deployment. Emotional steadiness, from community support to financial security can impact the journey. The first counsel is to remember; no healthy man, woman, or child is an island. The better your posse (group of family & friends) the more likely you will get through the ordeal intact. If you hear a “boogieman in the basement”, know who to call for help. Noises frightened me too. That’s why I am in favor of having a dog as a trusted member of my posse. The four-legged helper does not have to be big, just has to have good listening skills and be yappi enough to provide a good “alarm system”.  They also provide comfort during times of need. They can truly be your security blanket!

Next, don’t isolate yourself. Do things you enjoy. Light scented candles for short meditations. Read good books. Go for long walks, take in a fun movie and have lunch with friends. Surround yourself with happy, but compassionate friends. Do something for someone else. It’s hard to focus on your personal problems when you are out there helping another person in need.

Call the military’s Family Support Group. They have resources such as cell phones, internet connections, communication advice, home repair, mental health therapist, etc. 

Oh, and for those of you reading this blog who wants to do something for a military person or his/her family, I have listed a few suggestions below:

  1. Adopt a family of a military deployed person. Take over dinner. Baby-sit for a few hours. Take the spouse or parent to lunch or a movie. Anything that takes some of the pressure off of the ones remaining at home.
  2. Adopt a soldier. Almost every military person tells tales of how depressing and terrible it is to not get mail or care packages. While many are experiencing a sort of Christmas during mail day, many are left alone, not remembered, and feeling a bit abandoned. It is common knowledge that today’s military individuals do a lot of internet ordering just to get something in the mail when they are away. It’s quite simple, really. The person just wants to feel that his/her sacrifices are noticed and appreciated by someone, somewhere.
  3. When the soldier returns home, look for ways to support his/her reintegration into civilian life. Find out what he needs or wants. As one vet told us, “Sometimes people give us flowers when we really want chocolate.”

On a recent discussion with deployed family members, a mother wisely counseled us on what most vets and their families want from our country and community: Love, Support, Honor, and Respect………….that’s not much to ask for their sacrifices, don’t you agree?

After Christmas I will begin to write about the characteristics, challenges, and stories of living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Right now, however, it is the Christmas Season.  A season of the coming of Christ and all the hope and love that this symbolizes regardless of a religious belief – as I believe that the spirit of humanity is called many names and appears to various peoples and cultures in a multitude of forms and beliefs. There will be ample time after the holidays to talk about the many faces of trauma.  What we need now is more compassion and kindness for all of mankind.  So it is with the spirit of this special time of year that I ask each person reading this blog to light one candle of HOPE every day until the New Year.  As the small flame glows, say a small prayer for every person who is away from home in a far away country struggling to bring freedom to others.  Say a prayer for the well-being of their families that each will be comforted with the warmth of confidence and trust that their loved one will return safe and sound.  Then say another prayer for those innocent people whose homelands have been destroyed by violence and war.  For they are wounded themselves and suffer as well.  And keep in mind this special quote by Noah benShea, “We are people with lanterns going in search of a light”.  For any veteran who has fought in combat and suffered the long-term memories of war, I am sure that each one has a special wish everyday of the year – Peace on earth, good will towards man.  Now that would be some miracle.  Imagine!