Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What I would say, if I could

There are so many things that we want to tell our children on a daily basis.  Most of us (thank God) have the chance at some point to tell them.  However, in my case that won't happen, but it doesn't mean I can't write it down and pretend that I'm telling him what I want to share with him.  I plan to write this post as though I'm actually speaking to Chad so if you need to stop now, I'm super ok with that.  This is my letter to Chad anyway so it won't hurt my feelings at all.

Dear Chad,

It's been a crazy few weeks and I have been so tired and frustrated as much as Tebo's has been.  I thought I would take a moment to tell you some things that, if you were here, I would be telling you.  I imagine that at this point in time of your marriage and being a civilian you would be at the point where you would be considering having a baby, if not already having one.  I would tell you to enjoy every moment as one day you will want this back.  Just like the song says when kids are screaming in the background and crying and you can't get anything done around the house or yard, you might want to rush through that time period, but I caution you to just soak it up and enjoy it, because one day you will want that time back.  They will be in their teenager years and trying your patience and rules and you will be venting and upset, but I would tell you to just breathe and know that one day you will want this time back.  When he or she enlists in the military or go into a job that takes your child away to a different location, you will be sad or frustrated that he/she didn't go the direction they wanted to go, but don't fret, one day you will want this day back regardless how painful it feels at that moment.
One day you will watch your son or daughter walk down the aisle to marry the love of their life and you will wish you could freeze time.  Well, you can't freeze time as badly as you will want to, but the great thing about this is you will be expanding your life with a new son or daughter that you can love even though you didn't think you had capacity for.  You will.  Why?  Because you will love your son or daughter so much that if they love someone and they love your child, you will love them.  That's just how parents are.

When you get that job you've always wanted, show up early.  Stay late if you have to.  Learn all you can to be the best at your job you can be.  Live your day every day so when you lay your head down at night you know you were the best person you could be that day.  I know I told you this all the time, but it is still true today.

Everyone would like to be remembered as a good person who did the right thing and were loyal to those they loved.  I believe you are remembered that way (and not just because I'm your momma).

Love you wife just like you want a man to love your daughter.  Be the kind of father you want your son to be.  You do these things and you will have no regrets.

Laugh a lot, live life at it's fullest, but make room for God and make sure that you live to honor him all the days of your life.

Always remember to spend as much time as you can with not only your family (wife and kids), but the rest of your family.  Life flies by (especially once you have babies) and before you know you will be wishing you had spent more time with them and sadly sometimes that time is too late.

Don't forget about your friends.  They love you and real friends are hard to come by.  When you find them invest in them and in your relationship with them.  Don't let anyone ever come between you and spending some time with friends.  Obviously being married you will have to balance that, but as long as you are spending time with your wife and kids when you can, then finding time for our friends will be the easy part.

Try to be careful on the alcohol.  It's ok to have a few, but don't get in the habit of drinking so much that it interferes with your life and family time.  Then you need to re-set your priorities.  Speaking of priorities, when you are married there is some flattery when you are a little jealous, but never be so jealous that it becomes the perception that it is controlling.  That is never attractive to any woman.

You know what it attractive to women?  In my opinion, remembering to tell her she is pretty even if she isn't wearing make up (which i know you actually prefer), that she looks nice in her outfit even if it isn't your taste.  If she likes it, then just like it with her.  It must make her feel good if she likes how she looks in it.  This one you kind of messed up on already, but it always bears repeating.  If your wife makes dinner for you and you happen to not care for it all that much, just eat it anyway and tell her how good it is.  One day you will have a chance to tell her that it isn't your favorite (in a nice way) and then you won't have to worry about it.  I know I'm to blame for a lot of your eating habits, but she isn't use to them and she just wants to please you.  Sometimes she will get it right and sometimes, not so much.  The not so much times are sometimes the best memories.

Speaking of memories, make them out of every opportunity you are given.  It might be playing in the rain or making up words that don't belong in a song.  Laugh, laugh at yourself and the situation, but always remember that there are times when laughing isn't going to work and you need to be sensitive.

it is not (regardless what society might say) to be sensitive in your marriage.  That is as important than laughter.  I will also warn you that if you have a female friend that is having trouble, you can be sympathetic, but I would kindly say, you know, my wife might know more about this than I do and let your wife take it from there.  A married man should never been a confidant to a female especially when there is marital problems.  It doesn't look good to start, but it can also lend itself to a situation you may regret one day.  No one ever wants that.

I will close this letter with what I tell you all the time.  Family is forever so make sure anyone you love, loves your family as well.  That is important.  Also, once you are married, she comes first, but is not only.  You still need to call your mom and your family and friends.  It can't just be the two of you.  That's not good for either one of you.  Family and friends should enhance your marriage and relationship and I believe for you that won't be a problem.
Live each day like I'm watching, but more than that, so that you can lay your head down each night and know that you were the best person you could be that day and above all, have no regrets.  Do what you believe in and believe in what you do.

I love you son and missing you is just what it is, missing you until I see you again (and I WILL see you again).  Your friends and brothers in arms miss you and love you so much.  We have lots of little Chads, Staffords, and Wades running around or soon will be and it thrills me to know you are still very much a part of our lives even if you are not on this earthy.


Momma Bear
Christmas 2009

Monday, January 27, 2014

I promise...

I've made a promise to myself to do more this year than in the past for our military service men and women, but also their families.  In particularly those parents that have either lost a child or watching a child suffer with PTSD.  I can't explain it to you.  There are no sufficient words yet, only a heavy heart.

I'm certainly not educated in this area so I try to make sure I'm being very careful and not try to give encouragement or advice that might be mistaken for medical advice.  I would love to be more educated in this area, but let's face it, I think it might be a little too late to attempt school for this as it takes many years and I do still have a full time job.  I have, however, been trying to read anything and everything that might give me some insight to what these guys and girls and their families are going through.  I guess there is something to be said for personal experience as well, but that's not what this is about.  It's not about me.  It's about them.  I need to help any way I know how even if it is just listening or sending a letter of encouragement.  Whatever "IT" may look like is what I feel I need to do.

So that is my latest mission in life.  Before you can ask, no, we are not taking any focus off Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade".  That is still very much going strong and we have some exciting things coming up over the next 4 to 6 months (more details to come later) so we aren't taking our eye off the ball there.  This is simply something more I feel like I need to do personally.

I just completed the book "The Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team and it gave me yet another view point to what these young men and women come home with.

I would like to speak to the parents first.  Mom and Dad, try as hard as you can (and it will be terribly difficult) to not get discouraged if your son or daughter don't come to you with what they are feeling or going through after returning home from battle and especially if they lost a buddy while in combat.  It's my personal opinion that they just don't want to burden their family any more than they probably feel they have already done.  They are still somewhat in protection mode most likely and they are trying to protect you.  Another reason is they may not realize these feelings as anything serious yet.  Don't feel guilty.  Just do the best you can to encourage him/her to talk to someone, anyone, me.  I believe it may be easier for some to speak to a total stranger so they don't have to protect the person they are sharing with.

It has also been my experience that if they can talk to the parent directly involved with their situation that isn't their own parent it tends to be easier (if easy could be used here that is).  Let me explain.  Chad's buddies (I believe) find it a little easier to maybe talk to me or one of my family members for a couple of reasons.  One, I believe they feel closer to Chad by talking to one of us.  It didn't happen immediately that they would open up and share how they really felt.  It has taken some real encouragement and just being there and not losing my mind in the meantime for them to start feeling like they could open up.  First I think they felt guilty that they made it and he didn't.  Then I believe it was out of a fear of upsetting me or saying something that would make me cry.  Then once they realized I was ok and stronger than they may have first expected, little by little emotions and feelings started coming out.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't like they open up like flood gates and pour their hearts out.  It's small things here and there that gets a little off their chest and do a gut check with me to see if I'm able to handle that before they go any further.

So parents/families, try not to take it personal and try not to get discouraged.  Your time will come.  They may just need to either lean on their brothers/sisters in arms and maybe even the parents of those guys first to get themselves in a place where they don't feel so much like a burden to you.

Now, for all you bonus kids of mine.  This part is for you.  Your family and my family love you.  We love you even if we haven't met you yet.  Why?  Well, we are now one with you in your struggles and your own battle here at home.  We have a common denominator that most of the world don't have.  You've been to war and seen things and experienced things no one should have to let alone at your age.  Most of you haven't even had the chance to get married or have a family yet.  Most of you, like Chad, this was the first time you were really away from home and family.  It was scary and unfortunately for some of you it is still scary.  You may lay down at night and can't turn your mind off.  You may hear certain sounds or cries or gunfire that you can't get out of your head.  Maybe you don't sleep for fear that will happen.  I get it.  You might have images in your mind of buddies you saw get wounded or worse and knowing there was nothing you could do most likely haunts you.  I'm sure you have struggles with survivor's guilt and what if's.  Let me try to help you cut yourself some slack. 

It isn't your fault.  There is nothing you can do when God has a plan and purpose for someone.  In this case God had a plan for Chad as well as the rest of 2/1 Echo Company, USMC.  He is not done with you yet and if you were wounded, I am so sorry for physically pain and loss that you have had to experience.  I know it isn't easy and it is a struggle every day.  At the same time I am so proud of your courage and strength as well as the loving family and friends you  have to help you along the way (as long as you allow them).  It warms my heart to see how much these families have stepped right up to the plate to take care of their wounded warriors.  They served right along side you while you were gone and continue to do so with you home and that is an admirable trait and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for this Nation to know what they have to sacrifice and do to help keep your life as "normal" as it can be now.  Thank you for allowing them to do this and not pushing them away.  Sometimes I think the misconception our military might consider is it would be easier for my family and friends if I just push them away and distance myself.  Let me tell you, that is harder than death even.  They want to be there for you and they love you beyond limits and once you are able to get out of your own head and let them love you and help you it's my belief that you will not only start getting better, but you will have a blessed life.  God didn't bring you this far to let you fall now.  You have that promise.

The other promise you have is from me (and I think I can speak for Tebo as well) that we will always be here for you all.  We will love you and encourage you and our door is always open to you.  You loved our Chad and continue to love Chad through loving us and I know this isn't easy for you.  This is a bond that will never cease and you all experienced things in combat that no one can truly ever understand unless they lived it with you.  I wasn't physically there, but I was taking every step with you and staying awake nights praying for you all and writing as much as I could to encourage you so you would know that it is ok for you to talk to me.  I promise I won't break.  What I can't promise is that I might not cry with you.  There are times when we talk that I may cry too, but that's ok.  It cleanses our souls and allows room for more love and capacity to help. 

My promise is not to be confused with being able to "fix" anyone or their situation, but it is to be there for you and listen and offer encouragement in any way I possibly can.  One of the main reasons I felt burden to write this today was to let you know that I welcome any phone call, email, text, or letters if you want to reach out.

If you are still in the mode of not wanting to burden your family and you need someone to talk to, but you aren't sure where to start, you can start with me and if I can't help you, I will do all I can to get you in the right spot for the right help.  We can travel this journey together if you like.

I love my guys that not only served with Chad, but his high school buddies that he spent so many years with that love him as much as his Marine buddies.  They may not have walked the same walk as Chad, but they loved him just as much and I'm sure like me, there were many nights they laid awake or around a camp fire or in a deer stand thinking of Chad and wondering if he was ok and safe.  I know these young men and I know those thoughts were running through their minds at one point or another and for some it was probably every day all day.

I can truly only speak for myself personally and I have no issue sharing with you just a little of how I tried to do my part of supporting not only Chad, but the rest of you guys as well.

So what I did (AKA Momma Bear) was kept my cell phone with me 24/7.  That means when I went to bed it was in my hand by my pillow with the ringer on just in case I got that one phone call.  If I happen to get lucky and get that call I would immediately jump up and (who knows why) I would go to my closet and speak ever so softly to him in hopes of not waking Tebo up.  I would usually have tears streaming down my face because I would have been waiting on that sometimes 45 second phone call for days or weeks at a time.  As long as I heard from him, I knew he was ok.  I didn't need more than 45 seconds.  Hearing his voice was enough to get me through to the next phone call.  I'm not the only parent that did that I'm certain.  The other thing I did was write him letters every day.  One day it might be a hand written or typed letter and another day it might be a Motto letter.  In Afghanistan he didn't have email or Face Book so I had to rely on the U. S. Postal system and the Motto mail to get word to him.  I wrote his letters to him just like I would speak to him if he were on the phone or in front of me.  I tried to also write to as many of his buddies as I could.  It would break my heart to know if anyone didn't have their name called at mail call.  I never wanted that to be my Chad so I didn't want anyone else's child not to have their name called for mail call.  I have every letter he wrote me as well as the letters of the other guys that wrote me back.  I even received a few back that were not delivered in time and I cherish those as well. 

The book "The Lone Survivor" gave me such insight to what these guys must go through emotionally and mentally through combat, but even more so should they lose one of theirs.  It's heartbreaking, but I believe every Amercian should watch the movie or at least read the book to gain understanding into this world they live with and then maybe it will give people in general a different perspective on what they come home to and how difficult it must be to readjust to civilian life again.  I would love to sit down with Marcus Luttrell and just understand how he is doing today.  I know from his book that he still has sleepless nights and dreams and I know like his mother, I wish I could take those away from him, but honestly, he might not give them up as those are the last memories he has with his brothers in arms.  I would still like to talk to him and would hope he could share his heart and give me insight to how it is from his perspective.

My bonus boys still tend to protect me to a point so they will open up just so much and if they feel they have gone too far or are about to go further they tend to stop abruptly (guess you didn't realize I was picking up on that guys, well, I am).  I respect the fact that there are just times they can do that and times they can't and I can be patient (although that goes against every fiber in my being).  I have a new found ability to be patient with them as well as his high school buddies. 

I will fail.  I will let my guard down and I will show emotion.  I have already failed miserably recently (although they handled it like the champs I would expect).  One of his school buddies (best friend) told me they would be moving most like this summer and (selfishly) I immediately puddled up.  I didn't allow any awesomeness actually leak out, but it was not without tremendous control on my part.  Once I truly realized what I had done I sent them both a text and apologized for being selfish and that I would always support them in whatever they felt they needed to do for themselves and their family.  If I mess up like that, I promise to make it right and apologize.

This has been a long blog today, but it is full of promises that I make to our troops, Chad's school friends, and these families impacted by this war.  I'm only one person and I'm certainly not the smartest girl around, but I do have a heart for these guys and their families and as long as the Lord sees fit to keep me on this earth it will be a burden on my heart to do what I can to help in any way I possibly can.

So please take me up on my promise.  If you are struggling or just need to talk or you want to share stories about Chad (I love that part by the way), please never hesitate to reach out to me.  If you don't have my contact information you can send me a comment here or email me at and I will get it to you.  I may not have the answers you are looking for, but I do promise that I will listen, give genuine advice (or my opinion) and if that isn't enough, I will stop at nothing to find the right person for you or at least the answers for you (if there are any).

If you weren't in Chad's unit or didn't attend school with him, but may have lost someone or struggling from being in combat and you don't know where to turn, you too are more than welcome to reach out to me.  I don't want to lose any more and there is no reason you can't all get your life on the right positive track and with a little help and encouragement you will get there.  Once you are ready lean on your family and especially your parents.  They want to help.  They want to do some thing, but they also don't want to push or be too overbearing.  Just know that they don't know what to do and it is up to you help them understand what you need.  They will do anything for you.  Reach out to your buddies.  They may be struggling too, but sometimes just know someone has walked in your shoes helps you be free to open up and talk.  It just takes a few words to get started. 

I've shared these songs before, but they bear repeating in my opinion.  If you get a chance listen to these songs and listen to the words.  I promise you they will touch you.  Whether you are a parent or a friend or the service man or woman, you can't help but be touched by these songs.  I won't share a picture today (as I've been a bit wordy today), but I will share these songs so you can listen when you have a chance.  They relate to most anyone who has lost someone regardless the relationship or the reason surrounding the loss so at least give them a shot.

God bless each of you and Gods' speed in healing.  You are not alone and will never be forgotten.  Certainly not by this mom (ok boys, Momma Bear).  :)  All my love!

Friday, January 24, 2014

More than the Lone Survivor

I recently read the book "The Lone Survivor" and while it was difficult to read and certainly brought on a very emotional reaction, it was amazing.

Let me explain the amazing part.  Since my only child was KIA in Afghanistan December 1, 2010 I have struggled to not be involved with the lives of his Marine buddies as well as his high school friends that he left behind.  This book taught me so much about what it must be like to be the one that survived when one of your own did not.  My heart goes out to these guys and more than that, my heart goes out to the families (especially the moms) of these men and women who return home after war (especially if they lost one of their own), because they (to me) have it harder than we did.  They have to watch their child suffer and struggle with things they have no way of helping them with.  It must be the most painful thing to watch.  I can only imagine what it would be like if Chad were to have returned home and one of his buddies had not.  I know my son better than he knew himself and I know without doubt that he would have struggled in the most difficult way.  You might wonder, how would his struggled been different than the other guys.  It wouldn't be.  That kind of struggle that comes from feeling like you either didn't do enough, or you were the one that was supposed to be there, or why him and not me, or really?  Why did you choose him and not me Lord?  All those thing must take their toll on these guys.  Can you imagine for a moment that there might have been something (just one little thing) that could have been done differently that could have possibly prevented this tragedy?  It must be one of the hardest things a young man or woman has to deal with.

For me, as Chad's mom, I can tell you that I never once thought, it should have been someone else, not my baby boy.  My immediate thought went to the guys he left behind.  Those were the ones I was most concerned about.  I knew immediately that my son was finally safe and not being shot at or scared or cold or wet.  However, the parents of these guys and gals that came home and saw the brutality of war and God forbid lost a buddy, they have the hard job.  I know where my baby is.  I know he is safe and I will see him again one day.  Unfortunately, some parents that get their child back physically do not have the same child that departed on that day of deployment.  I don't have to watch that and for me, that is a blessing.  I can't imagine watching my child struggle and there be nothing I could do.  That breaks my heart more than my words can truly express.

My heart is so burdened for these young men and women that have not only witnessed war, but God forbid losing one of their own.  All I want to do is make a difference.  I don't know if I have what it takes to make that difference, but I am willing to put it all out there if there is a small chance I could be the difference between sadness or happiness, it will be worth it.

Chad's name means "Warrior/Protector".  How fitting that his name would mean that and that is how his life ended as a Warrior and a Protector.  It's hard to get any more proud than that as a parent and for me as a single mom and it being mainly just Chad and I, I couldn't be more proud.  I was lucky to have the 22 years of his life, because truthfully, he shouldn't have been here anyway so the fact that the Lord gave me 22 years with him, I will forever be grateful.  I was the lucky one.  I could not have picked a child more perfect for me than Chad.

Thank you Lord not only for Chad, but for all the bonus kids you've given me since.  I know I will see Chadman again one day and I will do my best to make him proud for all the days that you choose to keep me on this earth.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I've never really been one to believe in "signs" (I know Barrie Ann, you do and you know how I've always felt), but this just might have to be an exception.

Today I get a sweet little text from Ashley Whilhoitte.  They just moved into their new house just a week or so ago and she had gone out for a walk.  She is expecting a baby girl in May (turns out that is Chad's birthday month) and as she return to her new house she looked down at the sidewalk in front of their house and this is what she saw...

Really?  Right there in front of their house!  It's as though he is saying, I will always be here to watch over you and that sweet baby girl coming into this world. 

You may not have had a boy (this time) that you could name after him, but here is the greatest thing (I think) about this whole thing.  You have this sidewalk Chad that was there before you.  Ashley said it best, "Chad was already here before us".  He was!  They may not be having a boy, but they are having a little girl that will be so wrapped around her daddy's little finger it will be comical to watch and he has the sidewalk Chad that will always provide a little smile and a sense of protection always.

Besides, daddy (AKA BoBo) has always said every man should have at least 4 daughters.  Those girls take care of their daddies (sometimes too much). 

I love that they have this in front of their house and I love that they shared it with us.  It truly makes me smile from the inside out!

God truly works in mysterious ways and while I'm still iffy on the "signs", I'm pretty sure I'm going to give this one to them.  That is just too cool!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

When a heart breaks

I had the honor (I guess you can call it that) to chat with a mom who lost her son to PTSD recently.  I know right where she is right now.  She is in a fog.  She is just going through the motions of life and probably not even sure how she got from point A to point B at times.  My heart breaks for her.
I've been doing some research and reading and studying anything I can get my hands on about PTSD so I can hopefully be of some help to these young men that are now my bonus sons.  One of the things that I've learned is that it is common amongst almost all of them is that these young men and women don't really know the words they need to use to express what they are going through.  They can't really tell you what is wrong and for the most part, they have been taught to be so tough that asking for help when things just don't feel quite right would be a sign of weakness to them.
I would like to take a moment here to speak to those young men and women that might (hopefully) be reading this.  It is never a sign of weakness for you to ask for help or merely tell someone close to you that you don't know what it is, but you just don't feel quite right or quite yourself.  This is the first step to healing and getting the help you need to live a full and successful life.  You can't do this on your own.  I would also like so say that your family sees a difference in you at times, but they don't know how to help or how much to step in.  Give them permission to love you enough to help you.  That's all they want to do.
I can't speak for other people, but as a mom, it is hard to watch your child struggle and not know what to do or knowing you can't do anything to help them.  It's a terrible place to be as a parent so help them out by letting them in.
As a parent, you can't always know what is going on with your child inside their minds and hearts.  They have seen and experienced things in their short lives that most of us will never experience or understand.  They probably don't even understand it themselves so how could we/you possibly understand.
All we can do is be there for them and let them know that it's ok and that there isn't anything you wouldn't do for them. 
The other thing I have noticed is these young men and women are more likely to reach out to each other before even family.  I believe they do this because they know they are the only ones that really get what they are going through as they lived it with them.  I would encourage you guys, if one of your brothers comes to you and shares their heart with you and you believe it is enough that they need to speak to someone professional, try to find a way to let someone know.  We don't want to see any other family lose a child because of this war either in action or as a result of this silent disease PTSD. 
I also believe in my heart that these young men and women worry more about being a burden on their loved ones and I think that too keeps them from sharing.  In addition, I have to believe they don't discuss their experience of war with most (if anyone) people, because they don't want to re-live that experience and maybe they are afraid if they talk about it, it will become too real again. 
I'm not an expert by any means and I'm certainly not a very intelligent person, but I love these boys my son served with and I have watched and listened to them and I have a true burden on my heart to help them and the parents of our fallen heroes that won't allow me to stop thinking about this.  I need to do something, but I don't know what.  I can promise you that I will do all I can to figure that out and to promise to do all I can to make sure there is a difference made even if it is just one person.
If you are a parent of a service member, you know how tight this band of brothers is and I for one love seeing that closeness.  Here is a picture that was taken in CA after a much needed cookout with Tebo, myself, and just some of our new bonus kids and while they aren't all in this picture, I believe this picture gives you a glimpse into how much they love each other and I believe it is a love that will carry on for the rest of their lives.  Enjoy these smiles.  I know I do every day.

The Mountain Dew Gang.  :)  5-25-11 in CA at Camp Pendleton
Most everyone wearing a Mountain Dew t-shirt in honor of Chad!

He sure loved this t-shirt...  :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year & Resolutions

First, happy New Year!  May 2014 bring you happiness, love, success, & peace that far exceed your expectations.

I've never been one to make public resolutions each year.  Instead, I just always say to myself, family, & close friends that I just resolve to be a better person that I was the year prior.  This year, however, I want to challenge myself with actually making a resolution and somewhat public by blogging about it (hard to get any more public than that I guess).

In 2014, I resolve to do more.  I want to do more to help our service men & women in any way possible.  My heart is truly heavy with those that suffer with PTSD and really just the effects of what they have experienced in their young lives that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, but hopefully with help from all of us (especially myself), they can live a very full life of happiness, love, hope, peace, and healing.  That is probably the one thing that consumes my heart and soul more these days is to help these young men and women.  I know I'm not educated with the requirements it would take to truly counsel them (although I wish I were), but unfortunately, I have experience with not only the loss, but watching not only Chad's military brothers, but his school friends and other military service men & women struggle with loss and the changes that the ones that have returned have in their lives whether it be emotional or physical.

I know I can't offer much, but what I can offer is my shoulder, an ear, a kind heart, and to continue the work we have started with Wings for Our Troops.  I want to do more, I truly do, but I will do whatever I possibly can for as long as the Lord chooses to keep me on this earth.

I can't replace the hole in my heart from losing my son and I cannot chase the pain and heartache away with anything or any actions, but what I hope I can do is replace some of that sadness and focus on others rather than myself by helping these young men and women in any capacity I possibly can.  I don't know what that will look like at this point and time, I just know it is on my heart and in me now and I have no choice, but to see it through and do all I can.

I also resolve to build even closer relationships with my family.  If you know us you are probably thinking, I don't know how the Croft family could get any closer, well, I think we can.  I think by including our spouses and bonus family members more into the fold and doing a little more each time there is a need in our family and making sure I do my part by keeping in touch with them on a more regular basis will bring us even closer.  We could all do a better job of this I believe.

It's one thing to claim a resolution and spend the first few weeks of the new year actually attempting to do it, but it is a far bigger thing to actually do it and keep it going the full year and hopefully beyond.  I for one don't want to just talk about it or claim it and never follow through.  I want to see myself truly make a difference and I believe by doing this I am still fulfilling the "normal" resolution I make to myself by being a better person in the new year.

I don't plan to preach or get on a soap box (unless of course I'm asked to), but rather, I plan to fulfill this personal resolution in private and quietly and without any glory or attention to myself.  That is not what this is about for me.  This might even prove to be a great source of therapy for me and my grief and allow me to focus on other people rather than myself.  I would ask for prayer to help me achieve this resolution(s) and truly make a difference even if the person benefiting never really knows where that difference came from (I would actually prefer that to be the case).

So to all who may be reading this I would ask you this... If you meet or know anyone in the military that is either currently serving or served in the past (and never forget their families), that you take an extra minute not to just thank them for their service and sacrifices, but to listen just in case that might be the moment in time that they need to talk to someone.  Listen without judgement and certainly listen with an open and empathetic spirit and when you part ways I guarantee you would have made a huge difference in that person's life.  This would apply to anyone, not just our military, but I know personally and first hand that our military need this more than most Americans would ever truly know.

May 2014 bring our Troops home and let the healing both physical and emotionally begin and hopefully we will see it completed for all.

God bless you all and God bless our Military and their families.  You always have someone willing to listen right here and I promise to do just that.

For more information on PTSD go to

Let us never forget those we have lost, those still serving, and those who are still serving and suffering as civilians and most times in silence.