Michele Anthony, MSW, LCSW
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To the Defenders of Our Nation: Thank You

To the Defenders of Our Nation: Thank You

Little girl grieving the loss of her defender

To Our Heroes, Our Defenders 
Thank you to the defenders of our nation. You make many, many sacrifices. You miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, and miss the arrival of your baby and that baby’s first steps. You worry about family members while deployed, but you defend me anyway. In addition, you’ve been wounded, and sometimes gravely. You’ve been terrified, and you’ve lost buddies, but you defend me anyway. For some of you, your faith was shattered. And all too often, once you return home, your sacrifice continues as you struggle with grief and perhaps survivor’s guilt, or post-traumatic stress disorder. To make matters worse, some of you struggle with re-integration once you return home, but you stood on principle and went to a dangerous place far away anyway. For all these sacrifices and more, I thank you.

To Their Families
To the spouses who are left on the home front to raise children often for multiple deployments, thank you. I recognize that you will struggle with grief, feelings of abandonment, and fear. Sometimes you must adjust by making physical changes to your home to accommodate your hero when he returns with a traumatic brain injury, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress, and/or a physical disability, or other complicating factors. 

To the children who spent several of their developing years without the deployed parent present, thank you. I recognize that you as well will struggle with grief, feelings of abandonment, and fear. For all these sacrifices, I thank you.  

Thank you to the defenders of our nation who never made it home. I thank your parents, your spouse, your children, your siblings, your aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. In your darkest hour, the world lost a hero who chose to defend you and me.

Many of the defenders of our nation are only looking for a genuine “thank you” when so much more is in order.

The mission of the Gary Sinise Foundation is “To honor the nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need; to provide and support unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities.” To all of you who can take advantage of this foundation, call them. Check them out. They want to help you.

The USO works to “strengthen America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to our nation.” If you live close to a USO, call them. They want to help.

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization’s single purpose is to “empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.” Call them.

Military OneSource offers a multitude of services to you who are active duty or to those of you who are not more than 180 days past the end of your tour of service. They have providers all across the country ready to provide various services to your family as well. Check them out and call.

The Veteran’s Administration is there for you more than ever. You can get help in your community now that is authorized by the VA. You no longer have to drive to your closest VA hospital.

How to Help
If you are someone who would like to thank the defenders of our nation, you can always donate your time and your money. You could welcome home returning active duty military at the airport with your friends, your church or synagogue, or with the USO. The DAV is always looking for donations. The Gary Sinise Foundation looks for your time or your money. If you’re a health care provider, you can request materials from any of these organizations to hand to your clients.

It is Gary Sinise who said, “While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”


Better Health Is Easier than You Think

Better Health Is Easier than You Think

thumbs down for soda glass, thumbs up for water glass, pretty young black woman, broad smile, lime green exercise top, wooden table, off-white background
Photo: focusfitness.net

Better health sounds good, but does making changes seem too overwhelming? Does going to the gym five days a week for 45-minutes trigger hyperventilation, or does just thinking about eating only healthy food lead you to fears of failure, deprivation, and starvation?  Better health is easier to accomplish one step at a time.

Let’s tackle the issue of exercise. Instead of setting an initial goal of going to the gym five times a week for 45-minutes, let’s set a more realistic goal. Your first goal is to do a little preliminary groundwork.

  • For starters, perhaps you need to have a conversation with your doctor regarding your health.
  • Researching different kinds of exercise to determine what might be the least unpleasant to you and fits your lifestyle is also a good preliminary step. Do you see yourself as a going-to-the-gym person, a working-out-at-home person, or a running- or walking-person? Let’s say you decide that working out at home is a better option for you.
  • Next you can look at which DVDs or online videos might interest you or which equipment you might need.  You can bet that watching online videos cost you nothing and that purchasing a yoga mat, a few weights, and some workout shoes is cheaper than most gym memberships. Plus, you won’t have to wait in line at the gym to use the equipment you need, nor will you have to hope that the equipment you’re using has been cleaned properly, and you won’t have to take time from your schedule to drive to and from the gym.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, you’re ready for the next step. Start the exercise program. But start it slowly. This approach will make it less likely that you will injure yourself and help to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

  • Initially, your only goal is to get some exercise into your schedule. For example, maybe you’re going to work out at home on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If that’s the case, for the first week, all you do is a five-minute warm-up. Five minutes, you say? What a waste of time, you say. And, you would be wrong.  Remember that your initial goal is to just get it in your schedule.
  • After the first or second week, you can add a minute or two to your exercise program. And then after that, you can add another minute or two and so on. You can always find another minute or two, but it is very difficult to suddenly find 45-minutes plus drive-time five times a week.

This same idea can be used for improving your diet. Make one change a month lest you be overcome by a fear of deprivation or starvation.

  • For example, maybe you need to start by drinking more water. If so, that’s the only change you make for the first month.
  • Maybe you need to cut out a few desserts. If that’s the case, then that’s the change you make the second month. If you typically have dessert after most evening meals, maybe you start by cutting out dessert only on Monday nights and then a few weeks later cutting out dessert also on Thursday nights.  To make it easier to cut back on calories, eat foods that have a lower food insulin index.
  • If you’re drinking too much caffeine, start by cutting out that last cup of coffee of the day. A few weeks later, you can cut out that second cup.  Cutting out caffeine will also decrease anxiety.

I think you get the idea. Set goals that are achievable, not overwhelming. Set goals that you can successfully reach. Success always feels better than failure. If you continue with setting achievable goals, just think where you’ll be in one year.  Better health will also help lift depression and decrease anxiety.

Pretty amazing, huh? Good luck and you can do it!