There were so many wonderful things that happened on this retreat, it deserved a second go around. One thing that was brought up to me by one of my new friends made on the trip is exactly that. We have been blessed with new friends. Not just one friend, but many. The amount of kind, dear people we met who know exactly what we are coping with and sure, all of us are dealing with different physical issues and emotional issues on top of the PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries and whatever else as caregivers and wounded soldiers, but during that week, those things were not visible to me. I know I touched on this before with the first journal of this trip, but this is HUGE.
We were with other people all the same. We were amongst a brotherhood of veterans who have experienced horrors of war, the profound loss of fellow soldiers, and or the inability to help someone who was dying. It was a joy not having to explain why your husband’s hands are shaking like an earthquake due to anxiety in a large crowd. When Todd’s PTSD-triggered anxiety reached a high point, fellow attendees brought us water and napkins to help him feel more comfortable. No one gave him a look.
Even though Todd was embarrassed after due to his anxiety attack, he had no reason to be.
What a nice feeling to be among the similar. I used to call Brooke Army Medical Center’s Warrior Transition Unit (aka Broke Dick Battalion) or (the WTFU), the Island of Misfit Toys. It wasn’t unusual to see someone with a variety of limbs missing, wound vacuums attached, and extensive burn scars. It was completely normal to see guys whizzing by on their scooters and segways. There was solidarity there among the soldiers. No one stood out. The WTU would adapt the uniforms to fit the new body modifications caused by IED blasts. When the soldiers are healed as much as can be accomplished there and return to their respective homes, they are no longer among similar people.
Insecurities form when there is no one else to blend in with. People gawk when there is something different in the way someone walks, or a young man having to use a wheel chair. People can be rude and ask really stupid questions about the appearance. Thanks for being tactless. You think our men and women like to look different from the rest of the people? Sheesh. When I see people stare at my husband and the way he limps severely, I hold my head up and look them in the eyes. I tell my husband to be proud. He served his country bravely and volunteered in a time of war. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing at all!
The amount of fun that my husband experienced and the relaxation and feeling of support helped him make some big steps and work on his own recovery going forward. I know it had helped him seeing how some of the guys and hearing their stories of recovery and how they had improved. They gave him inspiration and the extra oomph he needed to try some new therapies. This trip was AWESOME for us in so many ways. He now attends Hippo therapy at ROCK Rides in Georgetown, Texas. It is a program that focuses on physical and emotional therapies. It helps calm anxiety and the actual riding of a horse is proven therapeutic for people with balance issues, depression, gait issues, and other physical problems.
I see a huge calming effect on Todd when he is finished with a session.
On the day of the therapy, he is ready without me having to remind him. Sometimes he would lose track of days and time and would cause us to run late. Not for this. He is all ready to go with bells on.
He also is doing aquatic therapy at the VA pool. This is another source of physical work to help him with stress and fight the vestiges of depression that accompany the recovery of our veterans. This morning on the way to Temple, he was awake. Wide awake and perky he was, talking about one of his passions, America and the upcoming presidential election. On a post note, he was awake for the ride home as well, which was fabulous. This is a big change. He even goes to the Speech Therapist to help work with him on attention control and retention as these are big issues that impact his short term memory. They are very common in people suffering from PTSD as well as head injuries.
I am just very excited to see him trying and working on his recovery – very actively.
These are continued blessings in my life. So not only was the Warrior Beach Retreat relaxing, life affirming, but it was also the catalyst that propelled Todd forward to make active decisions in his recovery.
|Todd and I on the Betsy Ann Riverboat|
I could not be happier. Please check out WarriorBeachRetreat.org and get yourself and your soldier on a trip of a lifetime.