It has been quite the year. I worked at Preschools, newspapers and an EMS company. I was very ill this year with one round of antibiotics after another. I had surgery on my foot and am still nursing it. I enjoyed a trip to San Antonio in the summer and a business trip to Tennessee. I decided not to take a week off to go to Connecticut to visit my so called family. I became a surrogate aunt again with the arrival of little Matthew.
I have just started to obtain REM sleep again after years of its absence. I would like to say I wake up refreshed, but that just isn't true. After years of not sleeping all I look forward to is tucking in early. A job is a job but the three month training program has left me apathetic and emotionally exhausted.
I look back on graduate school and wish I never went. I am missing most of my credentials and am totally talent scalped. Moving to Texas has been healthy in some ways and discouraging in others. I needed to get away from my so called family and desperately needed a change of venue. I still live in and work terror cells and find that I don't look forward to going back to the small one bedroom apartment I share with an awful Ethiopian.
I find that most people take advantage of my kindness and attack the crap out of me. I have wanted to move again, but have found that reestablishing myself is an absolute nightmare. I live in a city that appears to be upscale but the people are not kind or social. I have made alliances but no friends. What I drempt of doing career wise just isn't happening. Getting a degree in Public Affairs has left me out in the cold. The whole market has downsized and most companies no longer have a Public Affairs Representative. After applying to over three thousand jobs online, I have pretty much given up and accepted my lot in life.
The six month volunteership with the Army Corps of Engineering did not lead up to a job. I used food pantries for a year, but now find that I do not have access to them anymore because of my work schedule. I am training to become a dispatcher. The positives are that it is a desk job. My foot can heal properly this way. I have been approved to remove the sennoids for the right foot as well.
As for my spinal injuries, the VA is hands off and has done little to nothing to help. After years of working multiple jobs at one time, I find now that the motivation to work just isn't there. I think about my military deployments and acknowledge that there was nothing healthy about it, but at least I felt like I had a purpose and I was really making a difference in society.
I fantasize about winning the lottery or actually making some kind of return on my terror cells work. Basically I feel hosed. I tried to move out of the whole situation months ago and the African weirdo I live with got very violent. I am sure eventually he will get arrested and deported but for now I just try to stay away from him because he carries so many diseases.
I always had a go plan and a network of people to work with. I reached out to the Jewish community here but it was really a big disappointment. What I really wanted was a political job but now I am strapped to a $14 a hour job that I would like to trade in for something better or fulfilling, less stressful.
I also had a bilateral eye surgery. It has left me with burry vision and still the chronic dry eyes. I am grateful to have medication that helps but I really feel like the VA does the bare minimum. I need a crown for one of my teeth but still do not have the funding for it.
Looking back on this year, I think it is a wash. Things did not work out the way I would have wanted. Texas is into shoot em up bang bang henchbrook do or die scenarios. Much of my money has been taken from me. If I didn't get the small allotment of VA disability, I would have had to pack it up and move back with the worse wannabe parents in Connecticut. They have sent me tidbits of cash. It will never make up for the various times they emptied my bank account every time I tried to move out.
I pray that I will obtain wealth from companies I have worked for that either didn't pay me or ripped me off. I have a few law suits pending and I wonder if I will land on top of all that.
So what is there to look forward to as we move forward to 2014? Well hopefully changes for the good, fun things to do cheaply, and friends to enjoy it with. I miss being happy and being worthwhile busy. I will have to make some goals and work towards it.
Happy New Year from veteran Felicia M. Whatley. May the year be fructuous and fun.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
High Holidays will be traditional at the Chabad of Plano
The public is invited
Pull Quote: The Rabbi goes on to say, “It is an honor that what we do is judged by God. We see it as though it is important to him what we do.”
By Felicia Whatley
Rabbi Menachem Block from the Chabad of Plano at 3904 West Park Blvd. will be hosting the Jewish High Holiday celebrations for Rosh Hashanah Wednesday, Sept.4 and Yom Kipper Sept. 13 beginning at sunset.
“We celebrate Rosh Hashanah because the commandments in the Torah (bible) tells us to. Every Jew makes the best effort to observe the commandment,” said Rabbi Block who serves as executive director and Spiritual Leader of Chabad of Plano and Collin Country. He and his wife Rivkah established a local Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue in 1992 here.
The two big High Holidays are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper.
Rosh Hashanah is the day in Jewish history where Adam and Eve were created. It was decided by God that day would be the head of the year. When God blessed it and gave life one year had passed.
“Every year people are judged as what kind of year it will be. The blessing is all life. The world is judged globally,” said Block.
The Rabbi explains that like the brain gives the organs direction, this new day is like the director of the rest of the year.
“God decides what will happen to the world for the next coming year. You may not get your sign in bonus or other such incentives, but life will prevail every year,” he said.
Many people fear judgment, but to many Jews it is perceived as a good thing.
The Rabbi goes on to say, “It is an honor that what we do is judged by God. We see it as though it is important to him what we do.”
Traditionally Yom Kipper is the day Jews ask God for forgiveness.
“The day is extended for forgiveness, regret, and remorse of the past,” said Block.
By keeping the faith of the teachings in the Torah, the Jews keep the traditions of their people by observing the fasting, then eating and praying.
Mrs. Rivka Block says the High Holiday services will be “uplifting with modern and soulful melodies with ongoing explanations of the prayers and sermons. We will be using easy to follow services with an English translated prayer book.”
Though the congregation is Orthodox, the services are intended to be “enjoyable and relevant for Jews of all backgrounds,” she said.
The Chazan leader will be Rabbi Shlomie Rabin. He has many years of experience leading High Holiday services and currently serves as the Cantor on Shabbos at Chabad of Midtown Manhattan.
“Rabin has a clear tenor voice that is pleasant and easy to listen to. He will chant the traditional tunes modified to include influences and hints of contemporary style,” said Block.
“The service is open to the public. If you can’t afford it, come without paying,” he said.
For more information please call 972-596-8270 or email email@example.com
Save Your Boss: Take a CPR class; you never know when you’ll need the skills
Pull Quote: The American Heart Association changed its definition of CPR earlier this year, so it's important to know that on adults who have apparently suffered a sudden heart attack, experts now say chest compressions -- about 100 a minute -- are enough to keep a victim alive until help arrives.
By Felicia Whatley
Texas Heart CPR class was taught in Plano by Barry Brooks on Monday, August 26th at 6:00 p.m.
It is important to have the skills to be a responder. You never know when you will need it—you could save a co-worker, your friends or loved ones, or help save the life of a complete stranger.
CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency procedure in which a medical professional or Good Samaritan gets the heart and lungs of a victim working again by compressing the chest by hand and forcing air into the lungs, according to By Evelyn McCormack, eHow.com contributor.
“Every life matters, even if it is saving only 1% of the cases,” said Brooks, who has a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and just finished his paralegal certification from SMU.
The American Heart Association changed its definition of CPR earlier this year, so it's important to know that on adults who have apparently suffered a sudden heart attack, experts now say chest compressions -- about 100 a minute -- are enough to keep a victim alive until help arrives.
Some basics on saving an adult
When you arrive on the scene, make sure you are in a safe location. If the victim is not breathing and there is no pulse, activate your emergency response plan. Call for help. Then begin CPR.
Use your hands, one overlaying the other under the breastbone, pressing down 100 compressions a minute at a rate of 30 compressions to one mouth to mask or mouth to mouth breaths per minute. Start compressions within 10 seconds of cardio arrest, until spontaneous circulation returns.
For every set of 30 compressions – counting out loud, follow up with two big breaths into the patient’s mouth, continuing for 5 sets before checking for pulse and breathing. If there isn’t any then keep administering CPR.
If there are two people assisting the victim, they each have assigned roles. One must be responsible for keeping the air way open, with a head tilt, chin lift and rescue breaths. The other is responsible for administering the compressions, making sure to press deep, allowing for complete chest recoil. After two minutes, the rescuers should switch roles, because giving the compressions can be very tiring.
A victim has a 40 percent chance of survival if two things happen: CPR is started within 4 minutes of collapse and defibrillation is provided within 10 minutes, stated McCormack.
Some basics when using the AED
The AED is a An automated external defibrillator, a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient and is able to treat them through electrical therapy, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
Make sure to turn on the power, plug in the pads, place one pad near the heart above the nipple and the other below the nipple. Follow the verbal commands. If the device determines that a shock is warranted, it will use the battery to charge its internal capacitor to deliver the shock. If needed, press the button to administer the shock and then stand back.
Afterwards, keep the AED connected check pulse. If the heart rate is under 60 beats per minute, continue CPR until help arrives.
For choking do the Heimlich maneuver
The Heimlich maneuver is an emergency technique for preventing suffocation when a person's airway (windpipe) becomes blocked by a piece of food or other object, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
If is an adult is making gasping noises while eating, he or she may be choking. Quickly, lock arms around your friend, above the navel and give several quick, upward abdominal thrusts—or chest thrusts if the person is pregnant or obese-- until the obstruction comes out.
If you notice an infant is blue around the mouth and the breathing is poor, the baby may be choking. Place the baby on your lap, facing the floor, with your hand supporting the face while keeping the airway open. Administer five back slaps. Flip baby over then do five downward chest thrusts per second. Repeat if needed.
The two-hour course goes into greater detail where you get to practice on dummies until it becomes natural. There is a test at the end, so pay attention to the details, and then you will be certified with the American Heart Association in preparation to become a hero.
Nurse Diane Blaukat took the course and said, “Heart disease is the No. 1 killler. If people can recognize and treat it, mortality would be less, so CPR is very important.”
Texas Heart CPR Training offers several classes per week at 2000 N. Central Expressway, Suite 220, Plano, TX 75074. Call 214-592-7088 or check out www.texasheartcprtraining.com.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Wounded Warrior Hunt
By Felicia Whatley
Three local wounded warriors enjoyed a weekend in the wild for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sponsored deer hunt including shotgun shooting lessons, a potluck dinner for the warriors and their families, a fish fry, and a chance for each hunter to harvest and take home a doe and a buck.
“I helped set up and take down for the wounded warrior hunt. One warrior harvested two deer, another got one deer and the other soldier participated in the hunt,” said Lewisville Lake Park Ranger Justin Berndt, who played a supportive role in the hunt on December 14 and 15, 2012.
A deer population study was done on the area a year ago in which the Fort Worth District decided there was a need to thin out the herd.
“We noticed an opportunity to support the district mission and we just wanted the warriors to have an experience hunting that they may not have otherwise had; so we selected three soldiers from the Disabled American Veterans, two were from Community Warrior Transition Unit with limited hunting experience for a day and a half white tail deer hunt,” said Rob Jordan, a lake manager.
“This the first time we had done a hunt here in the Trinity Lakes region. We showed them some techniques rattling antlers and grunt calls for deer,” said Jordan.
U.S. Army Sergeant Royce Sweatman, a Vietnam veteran shot and brought home a buck and doe, Command Sergeant Major Chad Wong shot a buck and Sergeant Ignacio Mata had a great time on the hunt, but did not harvest a deer. Each soldier was paired up with a ranger; blinds made by an Eagle Scout Adrien Lewis from Carrolton and enjoyed the hunt using the authorized double barrel shotgun in the specified area.
Command Sergeant Major Chad Wong, a member of Army Reserves Civil Affairs said, “I was glad to be invited. I took my daughter and she is still talking about how much fun she had.” “I really appreciate what the Corps did for me,” said the two time Iraq veteran who also did tours in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Wong is also a police officer in Tulsa, Okla., who is going through a medical board.
Sergeant Mata said the experience “was really great and I enjoyed it. It was the first time using a shotgun. The guides were very knowledgeable and we saw a lot of wildlife—owls and various deer showed up.”
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hosts 7th Annual Lake Lavon Learning Service Project
Lewisville, Texas –
The 7th annual Lake Lavon Learning Service project on March 1, 2013 from 10am to 2pm will connect almost 1,000 Sloan Creek Middle School students (Lovejoy ISD) with the Lewisville Army Corps of Engineers rangers and volunteers, local fire fighters and the environment for an experience that will teach students about water safety, community service and civic responsibility.
“Our spring service learning project at Lake Levon has become a tradition at Sloan Creek Middle School. This is a great opportunity for our students to learn about the importance of the lake in relation to their community. Our students look forward to the event and really benefit from the hands on learning experience,” said Principal Kent Messer.
This year the students will do trash pick-up to beautify the Lake area, a flood control project , water safety and a life jacket relay to focus on the importance of properly wearing the life jackets.
Parent and Lovejoy ISD employee Stacey Hancock said, “The opportunity for our students to give back to the local community is important, and I think it gives them a better understanding of the world outside their school.”
Seventh grade student Hannah Weeks looks forward to the field trip. “I think Lake Lavon is a great chance for us to help out the community and give back. I think my favorite part from last year was the painting.”
Eighth grade student Jenna Evans said this about the experience, “I think Lake Lavon is a great opportunity for us to learn about the community and how we can help. Last year was extremely fun for me because it was my first time to get to help out the community as a new student and I loved staining the tables.”
Seventh grade student Sioban Pitan said, “I like the project because we get to help the environment, make the area clean, and learn in the process.”
Assistant principal Kevin Parker said this about the event, “Our Lake Levon project allows us to transform our classrooms into a place where students get to experience learning. There are different learning environments that keep students engaged and with the help of our parents, community members, and businesses it is a win, win for everyone.”
Lake Lavon is known to have some of the best fishing, boating and camping areas in North Texas, about 1.6 million people visit each year, and the lake was originally authorized by the Army Corps of Engineers in March of 1945 for the purposes of water supply and flood control and to later include recreational purposes. The lake has 121 miles of shoreline and is home to various species of bass, crappie, and catfish.
America—put your money where your mouth is
Insight into poverty, homelessness, and hunger in the U.S.
By Felicia Whatley
The national debt is out of control. Obama continues to patronize our enemies and ignore the Americans who truly need assistance. And why is everyone so up in arms about Obamacare?
As of Aug. 24, the national debt is at the highest it’s ever been at an estimated $16.9 trillion, Our economy still has influenza, with a the declared unemployment of 11,431,388 and the U.S. trade deficit is $652,454,200, according to USdebtclock.org.
Foreign policy is important, but why are we still giving money to our enemies? I would argue that the money should be invested on Americans to help the impoverished, homeless, and those who are stricken with poor health.
There are several huge non-profits like U.S. AID, UNISEF, and various Christian charities that promise a dollar a day will help save a poor, starving child in a 3rd World Country. That is all well and good, but what about the homeless, starving families in our cities?
The recession will force 1.5 million more people into homelessness over the next two years, according to estimates by The National Alliance to End Homelessness. Some of the top reasons Americans are homeless are because of the lack of affordable housing, cited by 72 percent of cities, poverty being 52%, and unemployment 44%.
The top ideas to stop homelessness were more housing for persons with disabilities or that the nation needs better paying employment opportunities and more mainstream assisted housing.
“Many people think having a job will reverse a homeless person's situation. But this isn't always the case. In fact, many homeless people do work--they just don't make much money. Thirteen to 25 percent--and possibly more--of the urban homeless population are employed,” said Sarah Valeck in her article “Causes of Homelessness in America.”
How does this affect your community? It is estimated that over 125,000 school-age children in Texas experience homelessness during the course of a year, stated The Texas Homeless Education Office, who is committed to ensuring that all Texas children in homeless situations have the opportunity to enroll in, attend, and succeed in school.
Or the reason why people are homeless and in need of assistance for food or paying for other basic needs such as rent, utilities, fuel for their cars, car payments, and medical bills —is simply because they are poor.
Sometimes it is the children who suffer the most from homelessness and hunger. A study cited from the East Texas Foodbank shows 22% of children under the age of 18 don't know where their next meal is coming from.
According to Feeding America, one-in-six Americans face hunger. A study released by the U.S.D.A. in 2009 and updated in 2011 said Texas has highest rate of child starvation in the country.
Instead of America funding our enemies in the Middle East and Asia, we need to focus more on helping the needs of our own citizens. Why is the U.S. still giving money to countries with military coups, like they did with Pakistan and now Egypt? It is totally illegal according to our Constitution.
Many Americans are turned down from social assistance programs. FEMA is quick to fund towns that get hit by natural disasters and human error, but what about the average Joe, who was laid off and now can’t take care of his family.
Let’s talk about Social Security. The program only gives on average $1,000 a month to qualifying recipients. How is anyone supposed to live off of that? It’s not enough-- and Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover anything major. In America, if you get cancer or need an organ transplant, you are likely to go bankrupt no matter how great you think your health insurance is.
Americans need sustainable aid and viable healthcare. For those conservatives who are panicking about having to provide healthcare for their workers—I’m sure THEY are fully insured. For those of you who have a soft spot in your heart and want to give money to help the less fortunate, give locally.
My Story of unemployment and hunger
By Felicia Whatley
When I moved to Texas last summer, getting away from an unhealthy situation in the Northeast, I was drawn in by the job growth and the cost of living here. Texas added more jobs than any other state in 2012; the state added 260,800 jobs. Nearly 99 percent of those jobs were in the private sector and the unemployment rate was almost 2% less than the national average.
I left my reporter position in Connecticut and risked everything to move here. As a disabled veteran, I went to the Homeless Veterans classes at the VA Hospital in Dallas. They had a few programs, but I was told I had to get on a waiting list and to come back in a week for another seminar. What was I supposed to do before that?
So I got in line at the Salvation Army shelter in Dallas. It had to have 115 degrees that hot July day. A lady told us to come back at 4 p.m. and that some of us could stay the night until 6 a.m., when we would be forced out. I was at the back of line. I was waiving from the heat and shifting from foot to foot. I have protruding disks in my spine, my feet got run over by a car and my lungs and eyes have been severely damaged while I was deployed on active military service. I also see a polytrauma specialist for TBI. Those IEDs are nasty business. I knew how to take them apart and disarm them, but it just takes one to bite you, to remind you how dangerous they are.
Next option, I looked into faith based shelters. There was one, near the VA, a Christian one. They gave me a meal and then turned me away. I am sure the Star of David I wore had nothing to do with it. One of the residents there said, “Find a cheap apartment in a safe area.” I did just that. I moved into Lewisville a few days later. With only a few grand left, I realized I needed assistance.
Hope Inc., Catholic Charities, and the Salvation Army in Lewisville turned me away. I attended Kol Ami, a reformed Jewish synagogue in Flower Mound and asked them for assistance. I was also turned down. I was accepted instead at Christian Community Action (CCA).
The help was gracious, but minimal. They paid $200 towards one month’s rent and gave me access to use their food pantries weekly. I asked if I could have access to the dental clinic (my VA compensation does not include dental) and my councilor Kate said, “That’s for people who don’t have any insurance.” I had to pay out of pocket with my family’s assistance to get a tooth pulled.
I got a job with Dexway CAE teaching English as a second language online. Most my students were in Spain, Kuwait, Mexico, or other parts of Europe. I enjoyed the job, but the pay wasn’t great--$12 hour, and the company was unstable.
When I got laid off I was really scared. Scared that I would become homeless, my bills didn’t pay for themselves, and that I couldn’t go to the grocery store and buy fresh items to supplement my diet. I receive some assistance from the VA, but since I have a master’s degree, I have a lot of debt.
I decided against food stamps because you enter yourself on a national registry, which some have complained can affect the jobs you are offered—it is on several applications--, can affect how you file your taxes and it was possibly used to affect your credit.
VONAP through Texas Workforce Commission for Veterans, the VFW Foundation, and the Vietnam Veterans organizations did help me financially, so I could get through another month in Lewisville. I quickly realized I had to move, because the rent was being increased to almost $800 a month.
Now I live in Plano, sharing a one bedroom apartment with a strange man, so the rent for me is $350 plus half the utilities. I happily work for the Star Local News and still need the pantry assistance.
Most pantries in Plano are only open a few hours a week, open during the daytime, when it is difficult for me to go. God’s Pantry is one of my favorites. Sometimes I get lucky when Costco or Trader Joes donates. I also like the Assistance Center of Collin County in correlation with a Plano Lutheran church. They put nice fruits, vegetables and milk products in my bag. But I can only utilize that pantry once a month.
I am happy to be in Texas again. I have a bigger chance making it on my own here. I call Connecticut “the rip off state.” The taxes on my (one) vehicle were over $400 and if I were to rent an apartment there it would probably be close to $1200. For property taxes on a three-to-four bedroom home, it is almost $6,000 a year. Most of the twenty and thirty-somethings that worked with me at the Reminder News lived with their parents, including me.
As the Serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
War Crimes done to a Female soldier
By Felicia Whatley
I was waiving from the heat and shifting from foot to foot. I have protruding disks in my spine, my feet got run over by a car and my lungs and eyes have been severely damaged while I was deployed on active military service. I also see a polytrauma specialist for TBI. Those IEDs are nasty business. I knew how to take them apart and disarm them, but it just takes only one to bite you, to remind you how dangerous they are.
My tour to Iraq and my military experiences in home duty station were almost unbelievable. I look back on it now and think: maybe things could have been different, less traumatic. But sometimes feel lost without the chaos. Stress was a daily part of my diet; it surrounded my everything.
But what happened to me is awful. I am missing parts of my skull and brain. I was held down, raped and then the group (fully loaded on drugs) took a hatchet and proceeded to hack of pieces of my head. I seized for 24 hours straight at which point I began throwing up my organs, until I figured out how to disconnect from some of my brain stem.
There were 15 sessions, 15 videos made of me going through this horrible torcher. Specialist Megan Burmeister faithfully held the Sgt. Rebecca Spencer, Spc. John Frenette , Sgt. Steve Fernandez, Spc. Michael Sherman II, SSG Donald Veitch and Capt. Mark Brewster of the Massachusetts National Guard 65th Public Affairs dismantled me.
It wasn’t the enemies in Iraq that are doing this to me. It was my own troops. With help the videos were given to someone very high up in the U.S. Army. For a while, I had heard one video was released while we were overseas and is on youtube. I have since had some help rebuilding my noggin. I don’t talk about it with so called family and friends. They wouldn’t understand. And I wonder if I will ever be brought to justice; the unruly crew got my debt card and emptied my bank account. Will I ever see that money again? Did they get punished? I still see some of them on my Facebook.
In Iraq, if I went to bed to sleep I had to bite off fears of being taken. It happened to me so often. I helped out Military Intelligence and spent my free time hanging out with counter-intelligence agents and private security heroes. Everybody knew me around the camps. At least once a week, I’d end up in the underground tunnels, being interrogated by the next hot shot terrorist group. There were three groups that really stuck a memory cord. Al Sauder with the Sauder trend was one of them. He planned on beheading me and dragging my body through the streets. Some of my security friends shuttled me out of there. I didn’t want to leave. That’s Al Sader! Why aren’t we capturing him? I was furious.
Another Jihadist group was demanding intell from me. He wanted to know where President George W. Bush was. Really? You got me out of bed by kidnapping me to ask me that? The rest of the ordeal wasn’t pleasant, but the whole thing seemed so ignorant. They shoved Opium up my nose and then covered my mouth so I had to ingest it. It burned my insides and I felt nauseous. I got up and threw up on each one individually, then walked out the door and left. That was the end of that conversation.
The third group of terrorists took me at gunpoint and dragged me miles away from my camp. This was probably one of the most dangerous groups I had seen in Iraq. They taped open my eyelids open so I couldn’t blink. After an hour of that I was going crazy. The rest of the stuff they did to me and the questions they asked didn’t even matter anymore, I was in so much pain and my eyes are forever damaged. “Chronic dry eye” can cause blindness and the pain never goes away.
A month or so later, I hooked up with a group of soldiers who had also sustained similar torcher from that terror group. We shared what we knew and figured out where they were. We grabbed our weapons and went after them. We did to them what they did to us, all throughout the night. I believe most of them did not survive. They were hot listed as terrorists that we could have made money turning them in. I figured they got what they deserved. The news spread quickly around Iraq, affording me some safety—for earned respect alone. I did receive the go ahead from a commandant of the U.S. Forces before I took off to hunt the extremists down.
I wasn’t the only one taken. Eighty-five percent of my unit was kidnapped and put in a POW situation. I heard Spc. Burmeister was missing. I asked some of my Iraq translators if they knew anything. I found out she was being held against her will in Syria. I said nothing to my unit and took off to get to the U.S. Embassy there. Sure enough they had her. I used my PA skills to negotiate her release. The Syrians wanted to keep me instead. Whatever I said and did worked and we headed back to Baghdad’s International Green Zone.
As part of my Public Affairs duties, I would embed journalists. Some asked for a guide. I alone, would take a journalist and their camera crew if they had any, and I would lead them all over the Middle East into areas that were very dangerous, perhaps off limits, but exclusive places where terrorists were a foot and battles did happen. Iraq has history that dates back to biblical times. I studied hard and understood why many people considered Iraq holy ground and I was able to identify what happened and where. If we took on fire, I would do my job and fight back to protect the journalists and myself.
There really isn’t “the front line.” I have had to kill enemies of the state more times than I remember. It is a big part of the job description in being an Army soldier of the Armed Forces. I recall using a Mark 19 on Iranians who were flooding over the border and into Iraq. I counted having killed 998 of the 1000 of them. Sigh, two of them survived. One was a high ranking official of Iran.
I did eventually get air-vacced out for medical reasons. Even that was eventful. Our medical “ship” took on fire from Russian Migs. We didn’t have much for gunners, but I asked them to open the cargo door. One of the soldiers had some anti-tank hand held rockets. I guided him and used a grenade launching machine gun. We did good, damn good. We were able to get to Germany and land safely. So then for three months, the rest of my tour to Iraq was miserably spent in Air Force’s Langstul hospital in Ramstein, Germany and U.S. Army’s Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C.
I was asked when I was received in Germany, if I had feelings of wanting to go back to Iraq. The nurse said, some soldiers say they do and we release them and put them back into their line units. I went through so much. I decided “I don’t want to go through that again.”
Even the beginning of the tour was tumultuous. I was delayed deploying because I was gang raped while we were in the field by my unit. I popped up pregnant during screening. Three months later the kid fell out while I was on my way to re-qualify on the range. Super premature, lacking the necessary development of his major organs, but still alive. With some celestial help, I handed the kid to someone who took him to the hospital. I was ordered to get my weapon and was immediately marched out to the firing range. I was hungry and thirsty and so sad. That didn’t matter to Alpha Company at Fort Dix.
At another base, I identified one of the evilest, biggest political figures of Afghanistan. He was on the top ten terrorist lists in America. I saw him at the chow hall eating breakfast with U.S. troops. I went ballistic. “You have got to be kidding me. WHAT are you doing in a U.S. military chow hall?!” I accosted him and as soon as he identified himself, I went wild angry and attacked him. I beat his head so hard repeatedly into the table that it left a permanent indentation. In doing so, I broke both hands, wrists and forearms. It was totally worth it.
When I moved back to Boston, I jumped back into the terror cells. One of them, after he deceased, I had to deal with his entire linage coming after me. It was a mess. This was in 2006. I moved to Dallas then to get away from all that, but some of the terror suspects tracked me and found me there. During the summer, they broke into my apartment, turned the heat up to maximum and then locked me in. I quickly became a heat causality and did everything I could do to keep from fainting. Then they tried to set the house on fire. Not a fun day.
I worked closely with a few FBI agents to figure out where that family was hiding out. Shall I say: The problem was taken care of. But the message was clear; I wasn’t safe anywhere and the anti-terror games would continue for many years to come. I am proud of what I accomplished, but for all of that-- the government did not pay me. Still, I continued to help clean up our streets by aggressively going after the international invader criminals and terrorists.
I even pretended to date one of the biggest American terrorists Charles Perkins. It was so difficult being so close to a horrible man that I needed to work harder to take out. That was a long 8 months. He became my biggest super stalker. He followed me everywhere. He was a violent, twisted 30 year-old man who preferred to wear diapers instead of using the toilet and have his mom change them regularly.
He literally slept with dead bodies and then would show up waiting to be intimate with me. He beat me with a baseball bat and cut with knives when he got angry. If he saw something he was jealous of he would destroy it and kill everyone around him. He would poison the food and then make me eat it. He would bomb neighborhoods on a whim.
Every ex-girlfriend he ever had is beneath seven feet of concrete. He tried doing that to me, but I got away. He did go to prison once, but he was with his best friend and his mom was there for him every day. I helped his mom and their houseguest (the real Nora Roberts) sewed his ass closed. Soon after, he died from disease.
I miss the action. I miss being a combat journalist and I miss the Intelligence part of it. I lived in terror cells in the Boston area for years around the aftermath of 9/11. I helped take out most of the terrorists whose faces were on those famous “Wanted: Dead or Alive” playing cards.
Leaving the military was a difficult thing to do. I found so much definition in my life, just knowing that I’m an American soldier filled me with pride. I am in a healing stage now and after all that, I wonder if I will ever feel healthy or if those pangs of fear will go away. I believe someday I will feel safe in my surroundings and that some of the unpleasant memories will fade so I can embrace the happy moments whole-heartedly.
There are support groups that are against military sexual trauma. Maybe I’ll look into that someday. I don’t wear the victim flag, but I do have a hat and license plate that states “Disabled American Veteran.” I suppose I have earned the right to wear it. God bless. And I hope to hear about your war stories, because I totally understand where you‘re coming from.
FYI : out of the 200 person 65th Public Affairs Battalion command that deployed, only 15 survived and made it home during our 2007-2008 Operation Iraqi Freedom tour.