Sunday, April 29, 2012


this message brought to you as a reminder of the services provided by the US Navy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Have you ever seen an object, that because there was nothing nearby to compare it with, you couldn't tell if the object was large or small, or close or far? But when you have something to compare it with, you gain perspective, or insight into the object...

For example, this is a photo of the target I shot when I qualified with the M14 in the Navy.

The writing at the top indicates that all 30 rounds hit inside the human silhouette. And if you had a calibrated eye, you could determine by the size of the holes on the paper, just how significant this score was. But going by size perspective, it looks like a pretty lousy scatter pattern.

However, once I place a 25cent piece on the target, maybe now you can see that this target is only shaped like a man, but is actually the size of a piece of notebook paper. The lesson here is much more than how good of a shot I am. It has to do with the trials in my life. Some days I feel like  everything is just too much to handle. The constant pain in my neck and back,  the endless reminder that I may never walk again, the ongoing need for assistance just to perform daily tasks that I used to take for granted. 
Things like;
Putting on my clothes. Holding a spoon to feed myself. Opening a bag of gummy bears. Picking up and holding a telephone. Washing my hands. Reaching the sink. Tossing a tissue into the trash can. Cleaning my glasses. Taking money out of my shirt pocket to pay for french fries. Opening a screw off lid on a bottle of Mt. Dew. Lean over and pick up the pencil I just dropped on the floor. Punching out a loud mouth in a bar. Punching a time clock. Ripping off my shirt like Hulk Hogan. Drop to my knees and ask for forgiveness...The list of things I can't do, seems like a very long list indeed, but only when I compare them to the list of my capabilities prior to 2006.

But when I put it into a perspective of what I wasn't able to do, just last year, I'm practically golden. Four years ago, I couldn't reach up and scratch my own nose. Maybe I have to have the cashier open my Mt. Dew, but at least I can hold it in either hand now, and drink it without getting wet. I can't run like the wind any more, but I put 38 miles on my wheelchair in the last 3 weeks. And I have had a chance to meet some very amazing people along this path. People I would never have met any other way. From wounded marines just out of highschool, to retired generals with decades of war stories to tell. Young army privates, with that lost and confused look still wearing the dog-tags issued in bootcamp to grizzled old field sargents who did tunnel rat duty in Viet Nam. Some in wheelchairs like me, others still physically fit to serve, men with minds so twisted by what they beheld in combat, that they are practically in a zombie world, While others are so sharp and witty, you'd never believe they ever ever walked a battlefield, much less shot at another human being.

Some days I feel pretty crappy about where I am and what I'm currently going through. But when I take the time to put it in perspective, then it doesn't seem so bad.

it doesn't get any better than that, NYUK NYUK NYUK

Monday, April 9, 2012

sucker punched

The Urban Dictionary defines sucker punch thusly;
a true sucker punch is quite a bit more complex than a simple unanounced (sic) attack.
It primarily involves a closed fist contacting the soft underbelly of a person (beneath the rib cage) at a high velocity, causing the ensuing force to press upward on the victim's diaphram(sic), leading to a sudden expulsion of air from the victim's mouth and lungs. This opening blow leaves the victim open to various other attacks, often leading to what would be called "bitch moves" becuase(sic) of the defenseless nature of the victim...

Today I had a visit from a representative of the VA at my home. It was an expected visit. The appointment was made 2 weeks ago, and was to kick off my transition into the Vocational Rehabilitation Program (VocRehab). I was told on 4 January 2012 that I was eligible, and that a counselor would contact me in the next 4 weeks. Those four weeks, plus another four went past without a call. So, I went down to their office to get some info on the counselor. (For anyone dealing with the VocRehab office, I recommend doing all of your dealings with them live and in person, until you are assigned a counselor . Phone messages just never get returned, not the nice ones and certainly not the sarcastic ones. And I'm positive the ones laced with sailor words never even get played to the part where you leave your number. I didn't leave any that were of a threatening nature, so I can't say if they get a response. But I'd imagine they would get the wrong sort of response from an entirely different branch of the government).

My assigned counselor arrived on time today and was very pleasant in demeanor and she seemed to be very interested in me and my case. She began asking questions about our house and my ability to get around inside of it. What sorts of things am I able to do for myself and who helps me with the things I cannot do? Where can I go inside? How do I get outside? Is there anywhere in my house I can not go? And then a survey form where I answered 0-4 on the level of ability to do things, considered common to independent humans in the last 30 days.

My intention for applying to VocRehab in the first place, was to get some hands-on training, so I could reacquire my security credentials and ultimately get a job and go back to work. I already have degrees in computer science, with 10 years experience as a Information Security Specialist and a laundry list of certifications. No need to start from scratch so I was hoping to get into the RATE program (Rapid Access To Employment).

As it turns out, I'm not eligible for the RATE program. Someone at the VocRehab department has determined that my HANDICAPS (there's that fucking word) are too severe and preclude me from returning to work. But they have determined that I am eligible for the Independent Living Program. That's where the VocRehab department comes alongside with money and coordinators to help plan, design, build and pay for the additions or modifications to my home that will allow me to live independently and participate in family and community life. But not go get a job. I suppose I should be thankful for the assistance that they are offering, and truly, Lord I am thankful.

So here I am laying on the floor (figuratively) gasping for breath after this sucker punch, awaiting my "Bitch slapping" to begin...