By Marsha M. Brown
Well folks if you know me at all on a personal level you know that I’m a big girl with big hair who loves to eat yet I’m a lousy cook; I love fashion and clothing design yet I can hardly sew; I passionately love to write yet I’m a slow reader; I like to sing but can’t hit a note (even our children went fast asleep to avoid hearing ‘Mommy tunes’); I love wildlife but you won’t ever catch me close to a bear…(unless its stuffed); I love jokes and hardy laughter but I rarely get the punch line and when I tell a joke, I get tickled and laugh more than the person I’m telling the joke to. I’ve been called a “piece of work”; the epitome of “hurry up and wait”; “one of a kind”, a “mess” and while I have no second languages to my credit…I have been known on occasion to spout words unknown to the English language…my priorities are faith, family, veterans and watermen; I adore old people; I can sit up all night with teenagers talking ‘til the sun comes up and I love to read stories to the little folks especially when they’re in their ‘terrible 2’s’.
When I write GIG LINE, my ‘voice’ for veterans is positive…because veterans make me happy. By nature I look for good in the past, the present and the future…even when it’s difficult because as we all know – sometimes life throws us a curve. I believe everything I say and the feelings I pour out are from my heart, sincere and to the point. It’s your choice ‘to take it or leave it’…now…what has all that got to do with the ‘price of eggs’?
Being humorous at times is great but the fact is that a lot of what affects our veterans isn’t funny…sometimes veterans have heartaches…a lot of them. Often times they’ve felt misunderstood, taken for granted, overlooked or they’re just plain sad. Whether the origin of veteran sadness started on the front lines or not, it is real…it is painful and it’s deserving of help and a cure.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It’s a time that reminds us that many people, (veterans or not) suffer from depression and overwhelming sadness. And sometimes that feeling of despair requires help from an outside source that can make a world of difference in somebody’s life. And while I’m not qualified to give advice, I do know this…nobody should feel ashamed to seek help when and if they need it.
How many of us haven’t experienced traumatic loss in our lives? Or emotionally painful times when something knocked us off our feet; broke our hearts or literally took our breath away? As an innocent seven year old little girl, I was molested by a family ‘friend’; when I was a teenager I was in a terrible car accident that killed my best friend; when I was in my twenties I lost my Mom then only years later my Dad. Just when things started looking up and only 11 months after acquiring and renovating the ‘old house’ I had always dreamed of having as my own (my grandparent’s home built in ’36 where I grew up, it burned beyond repair. Then in the late 80’s early 90’s when the economy tanked so did the mortgage on the house we bought after the fire. Working at that time south of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, we relocated to Salvo just ahead of the ’93 ‘Storm of the Century’ that flooded the whole underneath of the house we had just moved into. And…we watched the majority of what we had saved from the fire float and ‘bob’ around the neighborhood. Even today I can see the spoils of the fire and flood and an old trunk full of our precious children’s pictures and their priceless little hand made Christmas ornaments. And…I can still smell the stench of scorched blackness and wet soggy ruins…
I don’t know war personally…I don’t know the pain of having to see and do the unthinkable just to survive…I don’t know what its like to witness trauma on a vast scale…I don’t know and don’t think even for a second that my intention is to equalize what I’ve been through to war. What I do know is that each of us are entitled to be happy in this life…we are individually and equally special…we are worthy…we matter…and the heartaches we feel are important and when the pain of those heartaches don’t go away or subside, or we can’t feel hope or thankfulness that we are alive and able to see and feel the good that’s around us, there are dedicated, professional people who have the expertise to help that we can talk to.
Yes, I love all veterans. Yes, I brag on you, care about you all and feel great joy each time I see you knowing that you have served or are serving our country today. And yes, I believe there might be veterans who read ‘GIG LINE’ and think I generously throw the term ‘hero’ around like stale bread for the birds…but not so. I say you are ALL heroes because you are. You have done great things for great people and for a deserving thankful nation. You have earned the title ‘hero’ in my book equally. You matter to me; your memories – whether painful or exuberant – matter to me. And I wish I could sit down and tell you all in person just how wonderful and special you are…each and every single one of you.
Please listen to me on this. If you’re sad more often than you’re happy or if you see the negative and never the positive and if you feel lonely…just please know there are many who love you. Reach out and give someone the chance to help you; talk to another veteran because more than likely he or she has felt many of the same things you have; talk to a Pastor or a Priest and by all means consider calling the qualified sources available to you.
According to the VA Health Care Quick Series handbook about ‘Depression’, it is a “common and highly treatable disorder”. The V.A. offers skilled staffing professionals who are both supportive and who genuinely care. If you’d like to talk to someone about getting help or counseling, please contact one of the following: Hampton V.A. Medical Center (757) 722-9961 in Hampton, VA; the A.P.O.C. (Albemarle Primary Outreach Clinic) in Elizabeth City (252) 331-2191; the Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK or locally you can call Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veteran Service Officer at (252) 475-5604 and schedule an appointment for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday where Rhonda can refer you to appropriate sources of help. Also for comradery, the American Legion Post 26 and V.F.W. Post 10950 are based/located at 302 W. Lake Drive in Kill Devil Hills, N. C. 27948. The Post facility is open from 10:00 AM to 12:00 Noon – Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it’s a great time to meet other local veterans and establish new meaningful friendships. Also, if you would like to join or transfer your American Legion or V.F.W. membership to the Dare County Post(s), please visit the Post and/or call (252) 715-4251 or you can call me (252) 202-2058 for more information.
There are many, many people who care about you and who appreciate your service to our country. Please take care of yourself for the sake of everyone who knows you because no doubt to know you is to love you and even with the valleys and hurdles we go through at times…God and life is good.
In the meantime, be happy, be safe and be proud. God bless you ladies and gentlemen and thank you and your families for all of your service, sacrifice and for reading GIG LINE. We love you all! You know the drill…stay tuned.