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My Observations
The Views and Opinions Expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the individuals & organizations listed herein.
The SEAL’S Sign and How It Set Me Straight One of the best parts of creating this website is research… not your middle school drudgery in the card catalog (drawers full of cards that list books in the library) but a cup of coffee and exploring some great sites that are doing great things---and not just fun, but life-changing things---for warriors and older veterans (who I still consider warriors, so get used to it). Here’s an organization that totally transformed my view of ‘wounded warriors’. The founder of Wounded Wear was dealt a rough hand and used it to help others. First, Wounded Wear gives free clothes to Purple Heart recipients in hospitals. Now these aren’t your uncle’s polyester cast-offs,but clothing to accommodate medical devices.  And pajama pants to cover your hiney. They’ll adapt your jeans with zippers so you don’t have to show the world your prosthesis/es if you aren’t up to the hassle. They sell t-shirts that say “Scarred for Your Freedom,” so when people stare they get a bit of ‘shock and awe’, too, realizing your wounds aren’t from some stupid stunt. Plus they sell Patriots like me shirts and caps that honor the wounded and fallen, with great sayings like, “What Have You Done for Your Country Lately?” And “Forever Recognizing the Cost of Freedom.” Wow! I’m lovin’ this site, and wondering how we can help them get more packages of clothes to the warriors?? I’m lovin’ the fact the founder, Jason Redman, LT (USN) (ret.) is not just a vet but a wounded vet, who started Wounded Wear from his own troubles dealing with reconstruction and recovery….yeah, a bit of silver lining there.        But wait! There’s more! Next I read a replica of the sign Jason wrote for the door to his hospital room. Now because they sell a big postcard-sized replica for a whopping $2.50 (less than an average greeting card), I don’t want to rob them of sales, so I won’t reveal it all, but it hit me big. Epiphany City here. This guy didn’t want people feeling sorry for him. And he didn’t need visitors to come in all ‘knight in shining armor’ on him. He’s the knight, he’s gonna fix and polish his armor and get back on his noble steed. (o.k, you know what I mean). If you’re gonna be all mopey go away.Of course he expressed it much better, in big, bold, bad-ass SEAL script. It was great!  That sign totally rewired my thinking about wounded veterans and the site I was building. Previously my reaction to the whole Wounded Warrior movement was a gladness that the nations’ citizens seemed determined to honor (rather than salt) this generations’ wounds. The feelings were “This time we’ll honor them. They’re heroes!” There were parades, yellow ribbons, cards and care packages, and incredibly all the well-deserved accolades have lasted more than a decade. When the hospitals swelled with wounded, people like Janis Roznowski of Operation Comfort got involved improving the waiting rooms. People wanted to show the warriors gratitude and bought them dinner, brought them hunting, taught them kayaking.  This time we would let the guys and gals know we appreciated them, which was wonderful… all Well and Right and Good.   But somewhere over the years I had unknowlingly adopted the attitude that the veterans needed our help, wanted our help, and were helpless until we helped. I felt so sorry for them!  Poor guys/gals used, abused and thrown out.  Maybe it was 30 plus years of homeless veterans in camouflage jackets. Maybe it was the celebrities introducing badly burned warriors on t.v. commercials. Maybe it was the media’s penchant for ‘reporting’ only the bad news about the wars… you know the saying, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Somehow I had unwittingly bought into the Victim Mind-Set so prevalent today. As a result, not surprisingly, Jason’s sign blew me away. First, I wished and hoped every warrior in the hospital could have a roommate, friend, significant other, parent, nurse, hell, a janitor! to inspire them like this. Then I realized wounded service men and women simply want what’s due them so they can get better.  Those who need help, don’t want it if it comes with pity and condescension. Huge numbers of vets need assistance, but even if the government were giving them all their benefits in a timely manner, some could use more. And most will appreciate the personal touch and involvement from grateful citizens. Now I’m re-assessing my outlook and approach. No wonder so many of these warriors don’t want to be called “heroes.” They say, as warriors have for eons, the real heroes are those who gave their lives. They’ll say they were just “doing their jobs.”  Yep, that’s right, they were. Many of them were going out each day, knowing they could be killed or injured, to do an often thankless and unappreciated task. Yeah, they were “just doing their job,” jobs we wouldn’t, or couldn’t, do.  Now we get to do our job, which is Remember, Honor, and Give Back. Without acting like we’re doing them the favor. So don’t ever think the wounded veterans are all wringin’ their hands, begging for help. Plenty of them are fighting to recover, fighting for their rights, fighting to regain as much control over their lives as they had before. As the Wounded Wear site proclaims so well, they’re “Helping Warriors rediscover the Hero Within.” I’ve learned that if you happen to be able and willing to help, you’re privileged to come alongside. I bet they’ll teach you a lot about things that matter: the buzz word I’m seeing is “resilience”, and yeah, that works, but so do honor, courage, discipline, gratitude, loyalty, compassion, and love. The same qualities that made a person volunteer to join the military, especially during a war, don’t disappear when a person’s wounded or returns from deployment. Tried in fire, the dross burns off, and the best elements are easier to see. Be prepared to be blown away. Go to the site, make a donation, buy some clothes, get the postcard. Maybe it’ll rewire your thinkin’, too. www.woundedwear.org      Remember, any idiotic or offensive statements the author expressed are solely her problem and not at all representative of the fabulous organization profiled above. You’re safe to check out www.woundedwear.org. No morons there.