November Check-In

Good morning, everyone.  It is my hope you do not find my distance away from my writing to be disappointing.  Writing is an activity I enjoy immensely but I have a life outside this piece of the digital world.  Not that I think any less of my audience, I appreciate the time anyone devotes to check out what I have to say, but like everyone else, I have moments in my life where my presence is needed elsewhere.

October called me away with the death of a high school friend.

I was unable to attend her memorial service and it’s been a frustrating part of my life lately.  I missed the funeral services for one of my uncles, my paternal grandfather, and my maternal grandmother over the course of my two deployments and I had always hoped my transition to civilian life would mean I never had to feel that guilt again of not being home to have closure.

From my collegiate studies, I’ve learned death and dying are experienced differently depending on one’s cultural upbringing and personal values.  The notification of her illness in February 2012 left me feeling like we would hardly have any time left together and I was reminded of the feelings going through my own mother’s cancer diagnosis.  As her fight against brain cancer continued, we all saw her proving the doctors wrong day after day.  Cancer was not going to take away her life shortly after she received her diagnosis.  This year, she surpassed the five-year mark since this battle began and the joy I felt is something I don’t think I shared.  I saw this moment as one where she would continue to get stronger and cancer would lose its hold.  Many of us learned of her death the day after her passing and in the short time that has passed, it still does not seem real.

Many of my longtime followers know accepting death is a hard thing for me.  It was too present on my first deployment and in the last couple of years veteran student suicides have become too common a reality in my work life.

In the last couple of months there have been some great changes in the DoD community and Department of Veterans Affairs community worth speaking to but as my regular life consumes me, I recognize I have not given time to writing about those matters.

The Marine Corps now has its first female marine infantry officer.  If you want to read a bit about this change, please check out NPR’s First Female Marine Completes Grueling Infantry Officer Course.  We are still too early to tell how her role in the Marine Corps will shape the changing reality of female representation in the Marine Corps but I hope to see more information as time progresses.

The second matter worth discussing are changes to the GI Bill.  More information is available through the VA’s website at Forever GI Bill-Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act.  The summaries of changes is worth looking at for anyone who is entitled to GI Bill benefits.  I recently attended a training conference, since I am a School Certifying Official, to better understand where things are headed and the timeframe for those changes.

As I continue to use the remainder of my own Post-9/11 GI Bill, I am reminded as well what a privilege it is that others have fought to keep GI Bill entitlement for individuals who served.  This gift, earned through my service, requires respect for our taxpayers’ money.  I treat it well and while I am not always a perfect student, I do make a strong effort to make others proud.  With this funding, I’ve earned two undergraduate degrees, a Master’s degree, and with the remaining portion of my entitlement, I have one month and six days for my second graduate degree.  I started this new program, a Master’s in Public Administration, in October.  (I will also speak more to my new degree at another time.)

My apologies this entry is not a long check-in.  For Veterans’ Day, my family and I are going out to breakfast with a longtime friend and fellow veteran who served in the Air Force.  She knows how much I don’t (and neither does my husband) engage in veteran discounts activities on Veterans’ Day so we are going out to a quiet local restaurant.

Lastly, I also wanted you all to know I submitted my Notice of Disagreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the conditions I’ve discussed the last year or so.  This time, I packaged all the casualty data for our fallen service members and tied it together with the work I’ve done with my medical care providers plus the fireworks notifications I receive.  I’m not too sure I will be heard this time either, but it’s the biggest chance I have so I took it.  More to follow on that matter once I receive notification back on my case.





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