From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I Love Words...

You know, I can respect and admire the thoughts of those with whom I do not completely agree.

"Similarly, in an immoral society, the worst thing is to be immoral and commit atrocities. The second worst thing is to remain too moral (goody-two-shoes, blind-faith, status quo junkies) and simply allow atrocities to occur."  Julian Rose

I like what is said in the words above... to quote the author that is the ultimate authority:

"A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples on a silver tray."  Proverbs 25:11 Holman Standard Version

Friday, July 31, 2015

Open Letter to Lindy West Concerning Her Comment About "The American Sniper."

The comments to this article are closed at this point, but I have to make comment.  I am an American, and kept safe every day by those serving in the United States Military.  I know a lot of Military people, a few of them in my immediate family.  I have been  the wife of a Soldier serving in this present conflict, and in fact tonight my husband, who is now retired after 30 years in the United States Army, is in Iraq in his new position with the State Department. What America has asked of many of them, especially people like this man who served in the darkest places, performing the darkest jobs, is enough to break any person.  To have such articles and statements publicly printed after his death, when he can't even defend himself, becomes for me a personal obligation that I must address. The following link goes to the article written by Lindy West.  I first made many of these statements directly to Ms. West's Facebook page, as I am very certain she will never visit this blog, and I wanted to specifically address her.

 Ms. West, I read your comment and article about who "the American Sniper" really was, and I am terribly interested in what research and sources you sought out before you made the statement that you did. I believe the quote was, "The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer." Perhaps first I should explain why I am so interested. Several of my family members are, or were, members of the military during this present conflict. It is very easy to make accusations, I've made some of my own, but never without first hand knowledge of the accusations I made, or irrefutable evidence by reliable sources. You are a professional journalist, and I would very much like to know about how you came to your conclusions about Chris Kyle. I noticed that the tags on this post related to some of the hate filled responses you received to that comment. They were listed as, "Legal issue, Trolling, Hate speech, Offensive/Threatening language, etc..." I think that actually your statement, in and of itself, could be classified as any one of those things. So I am asking you to provide information about how you reached your conclusions. I personally have not seen the movie, read the book, nor do I have any personal knowledge of Chris Kyle. Just as I know that not all those who serve in the military are all that they ought to be, I also know that any person, especially one who is dead, can be maligned in The Information Age with little or no proof. On behalf of all those family members who have watched the sacrifices of their loved ones in service to this country in a war we did not start, and made sacrifices of their own, I am asking you for this information... Chris Kyle has a surviving family.

The official military records of Chris Kyle have been released through the Freedom of Information Act, and are readily available online. 

" A member of SEAL Team 3, Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War. In his time there, he is purported to have shot and killed more than 160 targets. He was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He was honorably discharged in 2009." Quoted from USA Today.

There is a very interesting article from The New Yorker which addresses many of the accusations made against this man. 

Ms. West, have you ever known very closely someone who has served in combat? I am referring in particular to that kind of service where a man is kicking in doors, watching men die on either side of him, and having to defend his own life from the threat of imminent death while doing so?
I have known many such people. I understand a great deal about PTSD. No one who experiences war at the level that this man did is ever the same. I am sure you personally do not believe in war, however there are in particular approximately 1 million people in the Middle East who do believe in war, and who have declared it against our nation. They, with sincerity and devotion,which they are willing to give their lives for, wake up every morning intent on flying their flag from our nation's capitol. Ms. West, one of their first targets will be outspoken female journalists. They hate everything you stand for Ms. West, and would think nothing of taking your life, and doing so in the vilest way they can conceive of. That isn't the only area of the world where there are those who hate our country and all we stand for.
I can not imagine myself having to take the life of another person... yet I know that in order for our country and our people to be protected, there are those who intend us harm, who will be stopped by no other method than the taking of their lives. That fact is as old as humanity, and the answer to that problem does not lie in diplomacy... nor in compliance... nor even in prayer... Our enemies in the Middle East daily murder their own innocent countrymen... surely you understand they have no qualms about murdering our innocent countrymen. They have already proven that they do not.
Have you ever seen the 20/20 interview with Robin... or read the book by his wife...
Ms. West, I think your callous evaluation reveals more about your character than his... and I seriously doubt that my words will mean anything to you, but I cannot state those two things as fact, as I do not know it as fact.

Sometimes We Find Life Hard

If you are finding life hard today, this will lift you, I promise it will...  I post this periodically to remind us all of the many sacrifices made by those who serve in the United States Military the world over.  I post it also to encourage anyone struggling with problems that seem overwhelming.  I post it too so that we may never forget nor neglect the obligations that we owe to those who have served in our military, especially those who have given the most.

"Wide River To Cross"
by Levon Helm

There's a sorrow in the wind
Blowing down the road I've been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun

But I cannot look back now
I've come too far to turn around
And there's still a race ahead that I must run

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find, find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross

I have stumbled, I have strayed
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I'm still a refugee, won't you say a prayer for me?
'Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find, I'll find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find, I'll find the things that I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Have Seen a New Talent in my Husband

For some weeks now, Randy and I have been teaching a Sunday School class at our church in Wiesbaden, Immanuel Baptist.  In every endeavor I have ever watched Randy tackle, he has always given his all, whether it has been at playing cards, fishing, mowing the yard, commanding at the Brigade and Group level, serving in the Middle East, getting his degree from West Point, pursuing his Master's at the Army War College, or in the stories I have pried from him about Jungle Survival School and Ranger School.  He has always graduated with honors in all his educational and training efforts. He was in the top two percent of his class at West Point. The same efforts and pursuit of excellence goes for teaching Sunday School for children from age five to twelve, in fact, the efforts are more diligent and from an even more devoted heart.

This work is a delight to him, and he is always excited to get to church and set up our teaching aides and prepare for the children to arrive.  All work is a delight to Randy, as well as is the pursuit of fun, but watching him with these kids is such a delight.  Children instinctively like Randy, I think that is so because the heart of a child still resides along side the Warrior heart within Randy.  He still constantly practices his stealth skills, slipping up on me as I am singing and working in the kitchen when he comes home from work, and scaring the dickens out of me.  I don't know how he silently gets our door unlocked, moves past our dog Chance, who is a constant guardian of all his territory, and winds up surprising him too, since Chance usually waits by the front door for Randy when it gets time for him to be home.  Things have to fall just right, so I never know when the surprise is coming.

Chance and Randy also have a game we call "pig, pig, pig" in which Randy squeaks a good sized rubber dog toy shaped like a pig.  The object of the game is for the pig to attack Chance from under the covers of the bed for about 15 minutes every night, until I declare the pig assailant officially dead for the night. Chance is permitted to bask in his victory for a few moments, and then climbs down and goes to bed on the floor beside the bed.  Our dog is young, and he loves this nightly loud and rowdy adventure to the wild side, so does Randy.  When it gets close to bedtime, the dog gets anxious to go upstairs and play the game.  He begins to whine and beg if we stay up past the time we usually go to bed.   Like I said, Randy loves fun too.

Randy is  talented at so many areas, however domestic type skills remain clearly in my realm of excellence.  I was so tickled Sunday when he prepared the snack we serve the children each Sunday.  Randy just naturally fell into the role of preparing these little refreshments, and this past Sunday he accidentally made the pink lemonade with hot water as he efficiently prepared the cookies and the drink snack.  Those who know him from the military or the State Department, probably cannot imagine Randy diligently at the task of making pink lemonade and cookies as a snack for small children, but I can assure them, he does it "hoo-ah style."  He didn't like the flub up of the hot water at all... I just quickly made another pitcher and placed the "hot lemonade" in the refrigerator for the after church coffee, knowing it would be good and cold by then.


Randy enjoys directing the competition time of the lesson each week.  We believe that it is very important for believers of all ages to be very familiar with the Bible in general, and to memorize passages and verses, to "hide them in our hearts."  We do a "sword drill" each week where we present arms by having the children place their Bibles in front of them unopened while holding them with both hands.  Randy gives a scripture reference in book, chapter, and verse, then announces "charge," and the children race to find the scripture in their Bibles.  The person who finds it first, reads the Bible verse, and gets a point.  There are prizes for the winner of that Sunday's competition, and a bigger prize for the overall winner after six weeks of competition.  There is also a scripture memorization contest, which Randy also directs.  The kids love it, almost as much as Randy does...

What a privilege it is to spend time each Sunday with these precious children.  They are all so intelligent and well behaved.  They soak up like sponges the Biblical truths we present each week.  We also realize how great a responsibility is ours as we teach these whom God loves so much.  It is just icing on the cake that it is such a blessing to get to know each of them, and spend time teaching them the Word of God each Sunday.  I enjoy very much watching Randy teach them as well, more than usual, he does it with such devotion and excellence.

2 Timothy 3:14-15  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Repeat of Omega 3 Information

I am repeating this blog because of a request on Quora for information on significant vitamin supplements.

When my husband came home from service with the Army in the Middle East among the prophylactic drugs he had been given was "fish oil."  The Army being what it is, he wasn't told why he was being given the "fish oil," it was just, "here, take this once a day."  He thought he was being given this supplement for “heart health.”  Another medication he received was to prevent Malaria.  Seems there might have been an alternate reason for that fish oil.  Fish oil is one of the sources of Omega 3; it is also found in flax seed, and walnuts, along with a few vegetables, but the vegetables do not offer significant amounts.  There are studies that suggest that Omega 3 is preventative for the condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  While certainly more studies are needed, this information should be known by not only those serving in the military, but by everyone.

I vaguely remembered from nursing school that Omega 3 had to do with heart health, but when I began doing a research paper on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and its association with TBI,(Traumatic Brain Injury) I came across the true significance of this essential nutrient that the human body does not have the ability to produce on its own. I will cite the article I found most informative and user friendly at the conclusion of this blog.  The first fact that kept me glued to the entire work was the information that 40% of the brain is made of the fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid, (DHA,) Eicosapentaenoic acid, (EPA) and Linolenic acid.  These acids make up what is known as Omega 3.  Linolenic acid is also a part of the bilipid membrane in every cell of the human body.

 I have had Ankylosing Spondylitis since I was fourteen years old, and I had noted that Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory and began taking it myself about four months ago.  I am nearly sixty years old, and I have never felt this well.  Long ago I had become accustomed to the chronic fatigue, and what the clinical description of Ankylosing Spondylitis notes as "chronic moderate to severe pain."  NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or Motrin,) a group of drugs including Sulfasalazine, Methotrexate and Corticosteroids, and as a last resort, TNF Blockers, such as Enbrel, Remicade and Humira, are the drug interventions available for treatment of this disease. I won't go into the side effects, but one does not submit to any of these courses of treatment lightly.  I can tell how reduced the inflammation is in my body since I began taking Omega 3 by the reduction in pain, plus my CRP levels, (blood test indicating inflammation in the body,) are lowered.

This function of reducing inflammation is one of the attributes that makes Omega 3 vital in the treatment of brain injury. From the articles I have read, there are major benefits involving function and the healing of injuries to the brain produced by Omega 3.  Not only are they a part of the brain itself, these elements act in the neurotransmitter system.  That is significant in TBI and PTSD both, which our Soldiers are suffering from in staggering numbers. Their exposure to repetitive explosions, which produce TBI, by deduction makes education concerning Omega 3, something that should be a part of every Soldier’s training.  

With brain injury, one of the reasons for cell death is inflammation and edema, (swelling.)   Omega 3 has been found not only to be a part of the cells that make up the brain, but they are converted into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.  This function is what makes them vital in treatment and recovery after brain injury. They are also significant in recovery from injury anywhere in the body.

For all the years that I worked in nursing the kind of brain injuries I became familiar with are the kind most people understand somewhat.  These kinds of injuries can cause loss of consciousness, either short term or long term, with long term producing what is known as "a coma."  The symptoms are obvious and dramatic.  Auto accidents, falls, and other such trauma produce irrefutable evidence of severe injury, and are sometimes fatal within a short period of time.  Usually there are other accompanying injuries as well.  There is another brain injury that is often encountered in childhood, which is known as your everyday vanilla "concussion."  I can remember having a concussion when I fell off a slide and my head landed on a large rock when I was about six.  I remember throwing up, feeling dizzy, and having a headache, but I have had no after affects.  Visual disturbances such as diplopia, (seeing double,) are another symptom of your garden variety type "concussion." 

When someone sustains repetitive garden variety mild concussions, a condition can develop called Postconcussive Syndrome.  Ordinary concussion symptoms disappear in two to seven days.  In PCS, longer lasting symptoms, such as mood alterations and behavioral changes, fatigue, sleep pattern changes, and poor concentration distinguish this type of brain injury from both major traumatic brain injury and plain concussion injuries.  The syndrome PCS can not only be long lasting, creating life altering symptoms, but it can also become permanent.  Of course our military sustain “concussions” routinely from the explosions they are exposed to.  A Soldier can sustain a mild TBI, (traumatic brain injury,) and not display any signs of injury at all, and be sent right back to combat duty. 

Those in the military are not the only persons affected by Postconcussive Syndrome (PCS), athletes, both amateur and professional can develop PCS.  High school football players are particularly at risk, as are boxers.  When I chat in the social medias where military folks hang out, there are always a few either active duty military, or veterans, who do not believe in PTSD.  They express, in so many words, that they feel it is really just whining Soldiers that can't cut the mustard. That really is such a display of ignorance.  What distresses me most is that some of them appear to be officers in charge of combat units. I had a technician from my satellite internet provider, who was a veteran, tell me that most of the Soldiers applying for disability because of PTSD brag about scamming the government for a hand out.  I am sure that people being people, perhaps there are some who do, but not for the most part.  I have found too much information on PTSD which proves that this condition is in part a biological injury to include  all of it in this blog entry, but I will be posting several entries sharing what I have found.  Tonight I am going to cite the articles I have read so far, beginning as I said, with the one that is most user friendly.  

 Self-education is vital when it comes to health, and that is especially true concerning any involvement in health issues with the military or the VA.  So tonight, while I am no expert on any subject I have discussed here, to me it just makes sense that if you are suffering from PTSD, the supplement Omega 3 might be a consideration for you.  I get mine in the form of Omega 3, 6, 9 from Walmart, and the cost is less than five dollars.  I am careful to choose from the brands the one that is pharmaceutical grade, which has had the mercury removed. Mercury is a problem with fish oil.  It seems our oceans are so polluted that mercury is present in fish, and can accumulate in the body of anyone eating large amounts of fish.   Since the vital requirements of the body include Omega 3, it would be a wise choice for anyone to add this supplement to their diet.  I think you will note a difference in just a matter of days.

Blast-Related Traumatic Brain Injury: What Is Known?
Katherine H. Taber; Deborah L. Warden; Robin A. Hurley
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2006;18:141-145.

Psychiatric News   |   October 07, 2011
Volume 46 Number 19 page 22-23
American Psychiatric Association
Clinical and Research News

Hormone May Be Long-Sought Treatment for Brain Injuries
Leslie Sinclair

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

What Is theTrue Problem

My husband sent me an article by a "military expert" named James Dunnigan this morning.  Mr. Dunnigan  recently published a very candid piece about corruption among America's present military leadership, and he put forth a theory on why this corruption has developed.  The article is a very interesting read.

Mr. Dunnigan is described in his bio as an author, military-political analyst, Defense and State Department consultant, and  designer of war games, as in computer games.  He is a prolific author of books, articles, and online materials on the military and its' operations.  He served three years in the military from 1961 until 1964 as a repair technician for the Sergeant ballistic missile.  After his service he continued his education, and is a graduate of Columbia University with a degree in history.  Apparently his love of history has fueled his passion for military analysis.  He is quoted by many as an expert, and has established his reputation as such in the field.

 The real root of the crisis is the lack of character on the part of some who serve, and how those with lack of character are able to rise in leadership.  The actions of corrupt leaders in our Military profoundly affect ALL who serve.  This article explains how a situation can develop during war time which fosters corruption, but I tend to disagree with the underlying message of the author, which seems to be that exposure of the methods used in military operations is a problem, and micromanagement a complication of that problem.  The author seems to indicate if we just let the Military accomplish the mission by whatever means they choose, things will be better.  All one has to do is examine how the Military has handled sexual assault among the ranks through the chain of command to understand this course of action will not work.  It is changing now, but it isn't changing because the Military addressed the problem on it's own.  It has only been accomplished by the American public in general becoming aware of the problem and demanding that it be addressed.

While I feel that certainly the circumstances he describes in this article have contributed to the corruption which has become prevalent in our Military, I disagree that these developments, or catalysts, are  the root cause of the problems.  All the circumstances, catalysts, opportunities and pressures in the world can come to bear upon a leader, and usually do, but in the end, it always comes down to personal character.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sometimes We All Struggle

Bad things happen to good people too, and sometimes problem solving is required.  When you find yourself locked in that loop thinking about negative things... don't waste your brain space on anything but fixing the problem.  Do not wallow in the negativity of the situation, it can consume you if you do.  Think it through, grieve if you must, and move on.  To do this may require conscious action on your part.  It may require disciplined action on your part, the Bible puts it this way...