“Rebuilding” A Deployment: Incidents

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The other day I shared with you all how I’ve worked backwards in my attempt to rebuild my deployment for the purposes of explaining the type of role, responsibility, and burdens of that service to the VA.  I understand informing you about the total number of casualties doesn’t give you enough clarity alone.  While it is hard enough to go through the daily burden of receiving casualty information knowing we couldn’t undo those situations, it also made me stressed about people I knew going outside the base and my own safety on the few occasions I traveled outside Blue Diamond.  (It’s going to sound a little crazy but while on deployment, mortar attacks were pretty normal.  It’s only been in the last few years being close to fireworks again that my body had developed an adverse response to what I know is not a threat but my brain treats differently.)

War is a combination of intentional actions and just as our military employs various weapons our service overseas exposed us to dangers of all kinds from enemy combatants.  Small arms fire (SAF), rocket-propelled grenades, (RPG’s) improvised explosive devices (IED’s), vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED’s), and mortars. At the end of the day, our maps would be marked by various patterns of heinous activity and accidental circumstances.

I’ve mentioned previously I am only scratching the surface of the deployment by presenting data for deceased U.S. service members.  There are real barriers to getting a true representation of my deployment and I do not wish to do a disservice to the many persons wounded on my deployment.  Their stories are equally as important as the many service members who were killed, but I have such an incomplete picture of this time period based on how different sites collect and present data related to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Here are some key differences to shed light on this matter (and like one of my former professors mentioned, it’s important to not ignore inconvenient data).  The table, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) U.S. Casualty Status,  presents a challenge as it included the entire conflict from the early stages, including areas outside of Iraq.

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Table courtesy of Defense.org

Other sites also try to appropriate inform by collating the recorded numbers in a different format, but again, it’s hard to separate out the casualties that would have occurred on our watch from the ones my counterparts would have dealt with for their service in other command centers during other portions of OIF.  iCasualties.org helped me a bit to get a better idea of how this part of my deployment could have looked through various sorting categories.  The table below from iCasualties.org has an option to look at wounded data by month and service branch but it is not province specific.  Even if we look at just the Marine Corps and Army for this time period (keeping in mind August and February were not full months in country) our activity reports would have covered some portion of the 4,936 personnel belonging to these service branches.

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Table courtesy of iCasualties.org

I have some other grievances with the iCasualties.org website including how the filters aren’t functioning and sorting the way they should.  I recognize the sight picture of my deployment will be incomplete but at least looking back, I have tools to help me explain my deployment to others.

Getting back to the data I can truly work from, below I have provided a chart I created covering the types of incidents within the Al Anbar province from August 8th, 2004 to February 22nd, 2005.  I chose to combine various types of enemy action under ‘enemy action’ than to list each subcategory I discovered in the Military Times records.  When I tried to be more precise in the pie chart, it was far too cluttered.  For this reason, I am also providing a better snapshot of the complexity of the recorded violent events and breakdown of the non-combat related fatalities.

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Thanks again for your patience regarding this difficult subject.

It is my hope that what I’ve worked through for personal reasons can help others understand a different side of war that is underrepresented in discussion.  I do not wish to tread on anyone’s feelings regarding personnel who go out of the wire on conveys or vehicular and foot patrols but it does help to recognize what burdens are placed upon support personnel.  We have an opportunity to revisit training and support services for our service members who handle information for the killed and wounded and/or their personnel belongings/effects.  I would also hope civilians can see why we need more nuanced discussion about war and its consequences in the classroom.

~Cheryl

 

“Rebuilding” A Deployment: Casualty Numbers

I am nearing the end of pulling together documentation for my VA claim, so here’s a bit of an update with some additional clarification on past discussions.  From my research, I learned the Al Anbar Province of Iraq is equivalent in size to the state of North Carolina.  I spent two separate seven month deployments to this region, but the deployment I speak (for you new readers) most of is the one I served under 1st Marine Division and is what I am discussing tonight.

Unpacking my military service with fellow graduate students from 2014 to 2016 was the first time I started to look more critically at my time period of service, my branch of service, changes to military policy, and how bases on deployments reinforce, create, and challenge certain societal expectations and behaviors. My first attempt of reviewing the casualty information related to my deployment was one of the most stressful things I’ve done since leaving the Marine Corps but I hope others saw the good intentions behind my actions and the knowledge I shared.  I felt it was tough to have a classroom full of peers, many without any personal connection to war and conflict, criticize an experience I lived through and my deployment was marked by trauma not well discussed by our nation’s media.

I write to you of an imperfect journey started last spring.  When I first braved the idea of sorting through the U.S. service member casualty data, I did so with the intent of educating collegiate students about modern war service in a support capacity; I also gathered information, as best as possible, about Iraq casualties through Iraq Body Count. The hardest piece of information to gather was for insurgents killed as I could not find it broken down by province by the best available data came from Stars and Stripes Insurgent ‘Body Count’ Records Released article published October 1, 2007.

After my second look (solely focused on US service members), I saw I made a mistake in my numbers, adding one extra casualty, from the time period of August 13th, 2004 to February 25th, 2005 because I misread my Excel spreadsheet.  I am embarrassed by this mistake, but with a clearer head this time, I know why the mistake was made.  I was crazy exhausted pulling together this information for my graduate applied project while also pulling 40 hour work weeks.  I could have asked someone to take a second look, but I was–and still am–personally invested in telling of my experiences a certain way.  I do not like when someone takes my words and shapes their own agenda, skewing what I said to imply something else.  I’ve seen when such oversight creates a larger misunderstanding and I do not want someone else to misrepresent my experiences.

The second look at the casualty data from Military Times Honor the Fallen  was done for personal reasons.  I needed this information to help support my claim with the VA that my anxiety-induced chest pains are service connected.  My military record is sparse as I grew tired coordinating with–and lacked trust in–military medical facility staff.  For all the great things I experienced in the Marine Corps, medical care is not one of them.  The culture of the Marine Corps,too, creates some undue pressure to avoid medical care, both to avoid the label of ‘malingerer’ and to remain deployable.

Looking back, I realize I had a choice and I didn’t use my voice to speak up when medical staff dismissed my physical symptoms as a ‘runner’s stitch’ although I was repeatedly adamant I never experienced a chest pain during physical activity.  For this look, I included the dates that matched the dates of service listed on my Navy and Marine Corps Achievement citation (posted below as a snippet).  I don’t need to go down the road with the VA on why I believe looking through my last day of service at Camp Blue Diamond is important nor do I think providing them with the Iraqi casualty information will be helpful because I cannot pinpoint which deaths are tied to my period of service overseas, same for the insurgent data.

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The citation hides, in plain language, what a significant event is, and for us, it was mostly information about the killed and wounded (friendly, civilians, and enemy combatants).  This type of work was classified secret, so without access to military records, I have used the readily available information at hand from Military Times, Iraq Body Count, and the Stars and Stripes article to give you some semblance of my Operation Iraqi Freedom 2-2 deployment.  (My second Iraq deployment was OIF 5-7, for anyone who is interested in Iraq rotations.)

Military Times Honor the Fallen Data

Most accurate data as I individually recorded for Al Anbar Province and by individual day (Military Times does not have a ‘sort’ feature by province)

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***I am providing more detailed information to the VA than what I am sharing with you all today.

Iraq Body Count Data

Medium Accuracy: Province specific, not date specific

Maximum Recorded Killed by Month

Stars and Stripes Data

Least Accurate Data: Not Specific to Al Anbar Province Nor by Individual Day

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As my weekend permits, I want to also share a more intimate look at the U.S. Service member casualty information.  There is a lot to dissect about causes of death, incidents that affected multiple personnel, and operating in constantly stressful environments, but it’s best to have a separate discussion.

The journey to complete my second review, while not as stressful as the first, was still stressful.  This deployment changed my feelings a lot regarding personal safety, how I approach my work, my personal relationships, and how I viewed my place in this world.  I am better for serving, but like many others, I still have work to do coping with the aftermath of this part of my life.

~Cheryl

What is it with People?! From Shoe Size to Public Tragedy, You Always Have the Right to Limit the Sharing of Your Personal Details.

Good afternoon, everyone.  Today I had my first encounter with a quite strange individual on Instagram.  His undue comments, see below, loosely tie in with what I originally wanted to talk about today, the Las Vegas shooting.

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We live in a society where people currently feel they are entitled to information about total strangers and are subsequently personally affronted when that privacy door is slammed in their faces.

Before I get to my sentiments about the Las Vegas shooting, let me tell you the guy was affronted about me not wanting to share my shoe size.  Mr. Shoe/Foot Fetish was a bit pissed that I didn’t want to give him this little detail about my body.  Although all comments related to this little spat are deleted after he asked if I minded (Yes, I mind being asked.) I gave the following response:

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It’s simple, right?  I do not owe anyone any part of my personal life that I do not wish to share.  I don’t owe someone details about what I had for breakfast.  I don’t owe someone a sneak peek or my sentiments of my financials.  I do not owe anyone an explanation of my military service and subsequent troubles getting the VA to understand the anxiety-related chest pains I’ve dealt with for the last 12 years.  Yet, there are times I CHOOSE to share this information.  The key thing is I’m talking about choice.

I don’t condemn people for wanting information in the wake of a public tragedy but the more we continue to presume, via our social media presences, that small details of others’ lives are ours to know the more I see this problem seep in how tragedies are documented and discussed.  I feel so awkward listening to some interviews and news stories; the exploitation of people fresh in their personal grief aggravates me.  This morning, in particular, it was hard, as a mother, to hear a small boy on tv give testimony about how he was without his mom now.  Seriously, right now he needs the safe embrace of loved ones, not the media coming in to repackage his trauma, pulling at fellow Americans’ heartstrings.

I say these things because I’ve been in similar shoes on two occasions.

After losing my friend, Bart, in 2002, I watched, with utter disgust, how the media camped out in his neighborhood.  My friends know I didn’t handle it well and I cussed at those local reporters.  None of us expected he would die so young or that he would become a murder victim.

In the other situation, away from prying media eyes, I sat besides my parter in 2004 (we’ve been exes for quite some time) as strangers asked him if being shot changed his belief in God.  Are you freaking kidding me?!

The fact people are willing to ask such things is not an overnight phenomenon.  It’s the small questions over time, chipping away at personal boundaries–real and imaginary–that encourage and emblazon others to think no question is off limits.

So, to the person who asked me about my shoe size today, I had good reason to tell you know.  I had more than one reason to tell you know and I only gave you one response.  You weren’t even OWED a response!

To our Las Vegas shooting victims, I apologize for any infringement you suffer in the wake of this intimate and public tragedy.  I will watch the news, with a critical mind, and I will cringe when I see those vignettes that border on the inappropriate.

For everyone still wondering those things that I’m seeing, here’s one tidbit from The Washington Post.  It is frustrating to see that question, Do you know someone who died?  

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I want to close with some information I found from the organization Trauma Intervention Programs’ “When Tragedy Strikes” regarding dealing with the media.  You can always say no.  You can choose how to share your sentiments.  You can choose who in your family is interviewed and who is excluded from interviews.  You have the right to complain about the process and persons involved in interviewing you.  You have the right to know how your story, as you’ve shared it, is being told.  I am touching on so little of this process, but we are all people with the rights to our personal lives and you owe nothing to anyone else that you do not wish to give.

~Cheryl

 

When Fraudulent Claims Crop Up: The Bad with the Good

Good evening, everyone.  I wanted to drop in real quick.

I’m taking a few moments for myself this night watching “Wedding Crashers” with my husband.  (For anyone who doesn’t know me personally, I’m probably the worst person to sit down and watch a tv show or at home movie with because I am constantly getting up to grab food, check my email, attend to my kids…anything.)

I came across an article this morning that I feel needs more recognition.  In the past, I’ve talked about my frustration with veteran entitlement and usually my sentiments focus on people who think because they served, they are owed preferential treatment every day moving forward, but this issue is a bit more elevated.  In this situation, what the veteran has done is deplorable.

The article I saw this morning, shared on Military Times, discussed how former Master Sergeant Mack Cole Jr. pretended he couldn’t walk to obtain more healthcare benefits.  Ugh.  Seriously?!  I don’t think the 27 month prison sentence is enough punishment for this sort of behavior.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have wanted disability compensation for a back injury but to exacerbate it to the extent he pretended he couldn’t walk is an insult to all our veterans who have lost the ability to walk on their own two legs.  I don’t know what that pain looks like and for individuals who cope with paralysis or the loss of one or both lower limbs, I cannot imagine the anger some might feel looking at this guy.

His descent into healthcare fraud is a part of why it’s so challenging for veterans to go through the disability claims process.  When we go in to honestly talk to the claims examiners, we have people like this tainting the visibility and integrity of our community.  People like this guy might be the only veteran others encounter and their misconduct leaves such a terrible impression.

Remember he is part of the minority, not the majority of our population.

 

 

 

 

A Work In Progress

Good morning, everyone!!!  It’s almost 8:40 am this Sunday morning but I’ve been since 5:15 am.  A planned hike with my in-laws didn’t pan out so I used the time instead to get a jump on the day.  I already made one of our dinners for the week, a hot Italian chicken sausage and veggie pot pie, and will start work soon again today on my VA claim paperwork.  (So far, I’ve backtracked on the August and September 2004 casualties; I have five more months to go back over and I am waiting for older civilian medical records to be mailed to me so I can discuss, yet again, my anxiety-induced chest pains with the VA.)

This week delivered more stress than I typically encounter this time of year.  The resulting uptick in chest pains makes me more uncomfortable, adding its own layer of stress.  These stressful things are temporary, I know, but it still frustrates me.  We’ve had a really long summer: my husband’s service dog tore her ACL, our other dog had cherry eye surgery (and revision surgery), an A/C issue resulted in a small repair just under $300, and this week was a frustrating mix of a termite inspection (our neighbor has active termites), the brakes went out in one vehicle and fireworks were on the menu.  Ugh!!!

I make a conscious effort daily to find ways to de-stress, and I think anyone who has life dump so much at one time knows the same thing: we’re all a ‘work in progress.’  I am not the best at managing my anger and frustration when life falls apart, and my budget is hit hard month after month.  I owed my daughter an apology earlier this week when I let my anger at the world over our ongoing array of mishaps get the best of me because this week wore me down greatly and I fear she thought I was mad at her.  I wasn’t, but she’s little and doesn’t understand anger directed outward isn’t necessarily directed at her.

After composing myself, I talked to her about being mad regarding these large expenses.  Each expenditure has meant a dip in our budget, a need to be creative in other areas of spending, and facing the reality while I wanted us to take a trip to Vegas in January and start saving towards a Hawaii trip next year those prospective trips are off the table.  She doesn’t recognize in the eleven years her dad and I have been married, we’ve never treated ourselves to a big trip or why that luxury matters to us.  We didn’t have a fancy wedding nor did we go on a honeymoon; it was nice to dream that renewing our vows in Vegas (I’ve never been to Vegas as an adult!) and makeup honeymoon were within reach in a year’s time.

As I write these things to you, I know–and own the reality–these are first world problems.  I am still in a place of privilege.  I own my home, I have a job that allows me to support my family.  My family and friends stand by me for this journey.  My fridge, freezer, and pantry are always stocked.  I have free time to reflect on where I am personally and professionally, time to look back on all I’ve experienced, and plan for the future.  The situation is not as dire as it feels in the moment.

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Checking In: Prepping for A 3rd Round with the VA

Facebook keeps criticizing me for not writing all the time for my ‘She Wears Dog Tags’ page and while I try not to let it bother me, sometimes it gets under my skin.  I am not a full-time writer.  I do enjoy writing and it is a form of therapy for me when the rest of the world seems to exacerbate my anxiety but I now see the downside to having a business Facebook page.  Ugh.

It is always my goal to write on this blog at least once a month but the constant notifications that “people haven’t heard from me”….that crap gets old.

I don’t write to share superficial sentiments.

I was feeling a little hesitant to share how I’ve been feeling yesterday and today but with the honesty I’ve shared with other trials, I want to reaffirm my stance you will only find vulnerability and camaraderie here.  It’s taken a lot to be open about coping with anxiety and I am not going to skirt around that issue as I’ve done in my earlier writing.

I am stepping out on a limb to have the VA revisit my disability claim for anxiety and the anxiety-induced chest pains.  The approach I am taking is unconventional but I don’t have much of anything valuable, in the VA’s eyes, in my medical record.  I cannot undo the fact I refused medical care in the Marine Corps because I did not trust the people I visited to take me seriously.  Unfortunately, I find myself in the same situation with the VA.

The breadcrumbs they have from my medical records are insufficient for them to make the connections that my chest pains stem from the continued trauma associated with my deployment.  I cannot fully blame them as I recognize fraudulent claims are a real concern and the VA pays out heavily for that type of mistake.

I find myself in a position to educate the VA on an issue they do not see well (and quite potentially, they may not have seen at all.).  I don’t know how likely they’ve seen situations like mine where I was exposed to trauma in the form of constant information regarding the dead and wounded.  The VA, I don’t think, can understand that pain like they might the mortar fire that also provided constant danger where we served at Camp Blue Diamond.

I’ve known for sometime I need to revisit the dead via my work for my applied project and the information I found about my fallen peers from the Military Times Honor the Fallen.  The official records from the Military Times, bolstered by the journal entries I wrote during my deployment, provide what is probably my last chance to explain to the VA a type of deployment experience that I think is still quite foreign to them.

I am quite stressed knowing I have to revisit the deceased again.  This process was difficult and heartbreaking during my Master’s program but I knew it was important to encourage non-veterans to see war in a way that is not discussed in the academic classroom.  I didn’t think I would need to open my trauma this way to discuss my past with the VA.  I thought I could discuss my deployment in a way that’s less painful to talk about but I don’t think I’m getting heard.  Instead I was greeted with a slew of questions poking and prodding about my family life, education, and interactions with friends, looking for other potential sources of trauma.  I don’t think I’d mind that too much if I was equally given the chance to be heard about what my deployment looked like, how I went about my work, and asked why I am adamant about being one of the best at my work.

I had a lot of trouble falling asleep last night.  I know I need to break up the records into more manageable chunks of time but even with that decision made, I know my heart will take it personally to see these stories again.  It’s likely my anxiety will increase again as I sort through this information, something I’ve wanted to avoid, but I don’t know how to separate my feelings from the process.  There are a lot of people who were lost and it’s hard as a Marine to feel like we didn’t do enough to prevent some of these casualties.

As I continue this work for my VA claim, I may not write as much but I will still be in touch.  It’s a huge emotional journey to revisit my past this way and I want you all to be prepared, and hopefully understanding, of why I’m distant with my writing from time to time.  I know that sometimes I cannot continue to pile things on my plate when I feel overburdened because it exacerbates my anxiety and increases the frequency/intensity of my chest pains and having to go back to the VA, for a third time, regarding chest pains since 2005 is the biggest burden on me right now.

Thanks again for the patience and space you afford me in this leg of my journey.

(If I get too far behind in writing and you are bored, just come find me on Instagram. I enjoy ‘talking’ about food a lot.)

 

 

Anxiety Self-Care and Vacationing

I took a trip to Wyoming recently with my family to visit Sheridan and Gillette and as rewarding as vacations are, I am always happy to get back home.

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Flying back into Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport

Home means stability for me and it helps me greatly in managing anxiety.  I don’t over schedule myself when I am at home the way I do on vacation.

This vacation, in particular, was a bit more full than I expected.  I had dreams of lounging around a bit more but now that my daughter is 7 years old, she wants to, naturally, do more.  She wants to explore and visit, and being a young child, she is demanding, hates naps, and will squeeze every ounce of daylight when not impeded by her mother.  Unlike when we lived in Wyoming, she is also old enough now to have a fully fledged opinion.  She was “meeting” people for the first time because she didn’t remember them from years ago and she also was insistent on having as much time with her young cousins as possible.  As an only child, she craves time with other children and summertime is the worst time of year for her.  She is not around her school friends and with high temps here, we spend more time indoors.

My daughter does not yet comprehend the stress I carry on a daily basis.  She knows I don’t like fireworks but she hasn’t caught on how a significant change of routine bothers me.  I look forward to vacations but I also struggle with leaving my comfortable environment.  I worry about what could happen when I leave my home, both to my home and the people in it while we are away.  There’s a lot of history recorded in my journals, photo albums, and scrapbooks that I can lose if something happens.  Additionally, I don’t like the idea of someone’s possessions becoming personal effects, to include mine should something terrible happen while we are away.  I considered writing about these feelings when I took my trip to Albuquerque last year but was quite hesitant to do so; while I am beginning to feel more comfortable talking about my personal struggles and coping, I still tread lightly.

I’m not surprised by my sensitivity to people and possessions, but I’ve had 12 years to wrap my mind around the intense situation that was my first deployment.  After spending 12 hours of nearly every day on deployment knowing people died and others were wounded, I became more aware we don’t all get a fair shake at living (and living the way we choose).  Without knowing the true number of people who died on my deployment, it’s still safe to say I have few peers who will ever understand the human toll of a deployment like I do.  (For any newbies, my alternative view of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as incomplete as it is, is available for viewing here. If you check out the video, please also read the blog entry for clarity purposes.  Thanks. )

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Some of my most precious possessions

For me, this vacation was a beautiful experience and one of the true breaks we’ve taken this summer as we had quite an unexpected–but necessary–financial burden demanding our immediate attention.  My husband’s service dog tore her ACL in June but was (and is) recovering from surgery and was unable to walk more than five minutes shortly before we left for vacation.  Her recovery will still take months but she is starting to show tremendous progress and is happy again, instead of her morose state when we couldn’t let her do any activity except use the bathroom.  If she had been able to walk, she would have flown with us for the first time and yes, there was some anxiety about that issue as well.  As you can see, she’s not a petite girl and even with my husband, daughter, and I all in the same row, she would attract attention.  I have no doubt other passengers would have inquired about her and peppered my husband with questions.

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That happy kid look after surgery was too precious.
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She became quite leery we’d take all the fun out of her day with her surgery recovery restrictions.

I’ve made great strides to significantly reduce my chest pains this year through regular self-care, but I had four of them during the course of this trip.  The additional stress of monitoring my husband because he didn’t have his service dog was a contributing factor. While I can recognize times where my husband needs additional support I notice it much later than she can and I didn’t feel quite as prepared to be his “service person”–yes, that’s what we joked I was doing in my caregiver capacity–because she had to stay behind.  Other things, like not being consistent about my sleep routine, contribute to the frequency of my chest pains.  Normally, I like to be in bed no later than 10pm and  I think most nights we were lucky to be back at our hotel room by 10:30 or 11pm.  Different noises also present challenges when it comes to sleep as I have trouble drowning them out; my bedroom at home, by comparison, is kept very quiet.  I do not have a wall clock and after living in my home for a year, I am used to the sound of the house fan when it’s on during hot evenings.  I am also a big fan of blackout curtains; the darker the room, the easier it is for me to stay asleep.  There are other things I can do like moderating my consumption of coffee and alcohol that also help reduce the frequency of my chest pains.  (I know I drank far too much coffee on this vacation, nearly 3-4 cups a day, but I was pretty good about keeping my alcohol consumption in check.)

In spite of my continuing battle with anxiety induced chest pains, the vacation was successful.  I think one of the things we need to keep at the forefront of conversation about anxiety and coping is resiliency.  I’ve had these annoying things for 12 years–and it’s really only in the last few that good medical professionals have worked with me to control this condition so it doesn’t destroy my quality of life.  Occasionally, they have to remind me not to pass up opportunities because I know they may or will exacerbate the stress I already have in my life. They also remind me I’ve been through the worst so the things that bother me are triggers (fireworks, sudden loud noises, people walking behind me surpising me suddently, etc.) and not actually life threatening events.   The fact that I had four chest pains on this trip is a sign I do need to plan better for my vacations.  I am still learning to say ‘no’ and I think because I’m in my 30’s I still feel silly to say I go to bed so early and in many cases, need the additional sleep.  Not everyone understands this issue and unlike my peer group, I find it harder to forgo time with family and do not wish to come across as being rude.  Next time, I’ll also work on cutting back on coffee.  I’m sure it’s not bad to have a day or two with that much coffee but the others I should probably stick to two or less cups.

I’m only taking you on a partial journey of the trip but below are some of the wonderful things I photographed during my weeklong visit.  If you want to see more things from the trip, feel free to check out my Instagram, she_wears_dogtags.

Like always, thanks for stopping in to visit.

~Cheryl

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The view behind our hotel room
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One of the flowers in my husband’s grandmother’s garden
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My grandmother-in-law has this sign from her late husband’s job working for telephone companies.
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My readers know suicide prevention is important to me and I love how this sign is integrated into community spaces.   
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I got to see inside a home built in 1905 and it had all this gorgeous mahogany on the walls and stairs. 
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I enjoyed sharing a flight of beers at Black Tooth Brewing Company. (I also learned IPA’s are not my thing.)
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My beer of choice at Black Tooth Brewing Company is the seasonal blonde ale.
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I’m a sucker for architecture and I’m glad my husband took me to the old post office in Sheridan to check out the marble staircase.
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I didn’t get donuts from this little place only because it wasn’t open when we walked by.
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This JC Penney’s is where I got clothes after returning stateside from deployment #2 as the only civilian clothes I had were the ones I was wearing.  It was surprising to see the store is closing.
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Clearmont, Wyoming
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The potato oles were one of my favorite foods when we lived in Cody, WY and they are still as good.  I just eat less of them now.