This is probably the longest I have gone without updating about what Bear and I are up to!
As you see from earlier posts Bear and I were invited to go to Washington D.C. to speak with members of the House and Senate about VA Disability claims reform. I could get into it here the process and how antiquated it is, but anyone who has ever gone through it doesn’t need for me to explain! I believe our trip was successful in that we were able to meet with Senators and their staff. It was an experience I will never forget.
Bear and I flew in the morning before we were originally supposed to due to a MASSIVE snow storm. We handled the flying well. Bear left his mark in Charlotte about how he felt about flying… :o) I am so proud of him and I am proud of myself for taking on such a trip without anyone else, save for Bear. We navigated the airports, found a cab and made it to the hotel without too much stress.
This started a long and interesting week. We had team dinners where we all sat down to eat, laugh, share stories, share moments and memories. We talked about the coming week. The ones who did Storm the Hill in the past gave us new guys some advice and some incite on what to expect. We stayed up late playing Rock Band and laughing and coming up with different things to call our winter storm (snowmageddon, snowpocolypse…). We went to training dressed in business casual, learned the inside out of the Post 9/11 GI Bill and learned where our fellow Veterans needed us to fight.
It was very interesting when I was packing to leave. I would be missing a great deal of school. I would miss my daughter mastering her walking. I would miss my family; but this is something I had done before. I had left my home and family out into the unknown to fight before. I knew I had it in me. Sacrifice is something I know well. Since separating from the Air Force I have struggled to find my place in the world. I feel so worthless and useless so much of the time. It didn’t seem to matter how many classes I took, or what I did at home, I felt no self worth. That week (+some) in Washington brought back so much of the good in me. I was fighting, and making a difference I could see immediately (http://iava.org/blog/65-meetings-white-house-and-1-bill). I felt like I do have a purpose and that I can help. It was amazing that for the first time since 2003 I was able to be with a large group of people I hardly knew and feel at ease and comfortable. I felt that way because looking around, almost every one of them has walked in my shoes in a way that over 99% of Americans have never. There we were, the less than 1% who were military combat veterans. The few who were there who weren’t veterans have all my respect because they spend every day, not just Monday through Friday, working to make sure the lives of veterans were improved or that we at least got what we were promised.
If you are an OEF/OIF veteran reading this, you can join this great organization. Simply go to http://www.IAVA.org. You will need to submit your 214 (or proof of military service if you are still active duty, like orders). This group has changed my life in so many ways.