Friday, January 3, 2014

Comprehension

Driving back from the halfway point picking up my son, Chris calls to do his nightly call. He was still on a high from the information earlier and had even more news to share with me. I have to admit as angry and frustrated as I had been with him and the whole situation over the last few weeks I could feel myself lightening up and feeling relaxed and happy also.

We discussed the strong possibility of a family visit on Sunday and I was thrilled. I had no idea my teenager was paying attention to the phone call with his step dad. At some point he took one of his ear buds out to I guess listen to the news and I guess use it to strike up the conversation that would really make me feel proud and impressed by his maturity. Chris and I chatted for about 20 minutes and out of the corner of my eye I could see a small smile spread across my son's face. As soon as the conversation ended, Sean didn't skip a beat. He proceeded to pry on the progress and update of his step dad. Part of me was thinking he hoped that the news wouldn't be good and that would mean longer time for him to be gone and the stress of the house be at bay as it had been for the last 7 weeks.

I was very honest with Sean, he is 13 and very intuitive and insightful. I decide to seize this opportunity to discuss the progress and plans as this of course very much effects him and is part of our home life. He asked when Chris would be home before we even left the parking lot of DQ heading home. I told him at best by my birthday which is the second week of March. His eyes were big and he was surprised. I told him I would know more later this week so he left it at that and went back to is iPod. However as soon as the phone called ended with is stepfather I decided to be more forthright with the information since I know he really does want to be included in all this. Up until this night I had not asked Sean his thoughts, opinions and comprehension of our situation.  I have usually kept it generic and figured he didn't want to be bother by the details just relieved that the tension and stress of him and his stepfather was a non issue for the time being because he was not home.

When I told Sean of the VA hospital and it would be a 6/8 week program he was shocked. He had no idea that PTSD required so much intervention and treatment. He said he honestly missed Chris and the house was just not the same. He felt the house was sad and quiet and that is just not how our household works. He has really been hoping for good progress so Chris could come home and our new life could resume.

Sean after a moment of silence, boldly asked me " Has Chris ever been hurt over there?" Normally I would find a diversion topic or sugar coat this but, this is a kid who plays violent war games and does lots of reading on these types of things, there just comes a point and time when you have to be honest and tonight was that night. I told him yes he had been in combat many times and not only had to take the lives of others but he had to see the lives of his brothers taken before his eyes. He had been injured in a roadside Humvee accident that required the jaw and face to be reconstructed and screwed together in places. He also had to have surgery on his shoulder and knee. Sean was quiet and taking in the information. I told him the biggest battle he is facing is called "Survivor Remorse."  When I explained that Chris saw many of his brothers killed in combat and had to take the lives of others in order to stay safe it really made it more real I believe for Sean. This just wasn't a video game this was real life with real deaths. I could see his expression changing to a whole new direction. He just shook his head and after a few moments said that sucks. No wonder he has been so angry.

A few moments later he looked over and said he recalled reading one of those meme's on his ifunny's and it said that instead of thinking that real heroes where helmets and throw balls that we should honor those real American heroes that wear combat helmets and risk their lives for us to enjoy those athletes. For the first time he got it. He said how sad it is that we idolize those athletes and often those true heroes are forget and left out. They aren't compensated enough and it was wrong. I explained this will forever be a hot topic for lots of people and we all agree but if our athletes were paid out of the same pot of money our military was paid out of, of course this would be different but our athletes are paid by the fans and the endorsements so for every jersey, shoe, t-shirt and game day ticket you buy it goes to those athlete's  paycheck. I said "Until our service members start endorsing those types of things this is the way it has to be." It was at that time he really grasped the whole concept and realized it was very unfair. I told him a majority of our service members qualify for government assistance, such as food stamps, wic, free lunches/reduced and head start. He was shocked because those are things reserved for low income families.

I told him that veterans are often forgotten and tossed to the wayside once their time in is complete, however there is hall of fames for our athletes who not longer play. Life doesn't always make sense and he agreed. When I told him our family would be getting involved he was excited to chime in with Wounded Warrior Project. I was please to hear him say that. He is excited to see what we can do with them and hopes that these resources will be helpful to getting his step dad into a place where he can learn to be happy and enjoy his life again. He agreed a deployment ain't got nothing on this. He said this was much harder then when he was in Korea or any other time we have had to be apart. It made me proud, it made me smile to know he was getting it. He was finally able to comprehend the deeper meaning as to what our family had not only been battling the last 40 days but for the last four years.