Lawmakers Appeal on Camp LeJeune’s Drinking Water

Photo courtesy: The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten website.

Displeased with the VA’s response to requests for free health care for veterans exposed to Camp Lejeune’s contaminated drinking water between 1957 and 1987, lawmakers are appealing directly to President Obama reports The Army Times:

In February, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, proposed VA could at least provide health care for Camp Lejeune veterans by creating a special health care category that covered them. The cost of care could be paid, Miller suggested, by $5 billion in excess health care funds the VA discovered when preparing the 2013 budget.

Miller’s proposal, which would have applied only to veterans and not to family members who might have lived or visited Lejeune, was rejected by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who said in an April 9 response to Miller that it was premature to provide health care to everyone who served at Lejeune from 1957 until 1987.

Miller and other leading members of congress sent a letter to the president asking him to order the VA to provide free health care to veterans exposed to the contaminated water during the 30-year period.

“These are wounds that cannot wait,” Miller said in a press release Thursday, April 19, 2012.

Deployment Cycles: Stage 3 – Emotional Disorganization

The book cover of Tracie Ciambotti's book, Battles of the Heart.

Emotional disorganization, or stage 3 of the emotional cycle of deployment, occurs during the first six weeks of deployment.  My experience with this cycle, as the mother of a soldier, is different from that of a spouse; my husband is still here, my daily routine doesn’t change, and I don’t take on new responsibilities as a single parent and head of the household.

Although I try to prepare my emotions for my son’s departure, I can’t fully concoct, or practice controlling, the emotions that begin to flow once we have said our good-byes and I watch him walk away.

The thoughts and questions that I try to fight off always seem to slip into my mind in the first days and weeks of a deployment: Will I ever see my son again?  I already miss him and the sound of his voice. 

Josh’s last deployment was his third and I’ve learned new lessons with each.    He received the best training in the world for his role as a combat soldier; I was not offered any training or preparation for my role as his mother.

I learned the hard way that when he goes to war—I face my own war at home.  His war is physical, mine is emotional.  Unlike my son, trained and confident, I was unaware and unprepared for the emotional battle that takes place in your heart and mind when your child goes to a war zone.

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A Military Family Builds Community: 52 Dinners, 52 Guests

A January dinner, Sen. Susan Collins (second from left) visits with Sarah Smiley and her sons Owen, Lindell and Ford, one of 52 planned during the yearlong deployment.

Imagine inviting someone different into your home every week for a year – a school teacher – a cancer survivor – a senator – a police chief – University of Maine Hockey team members.

That’s how the Smiley family is marking the year-long deployment of their husband and dad,  Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Smiley, with 52 dinners, 52 guests.

The Smiley family has made a video and the U.S. Navy made it public through Twitter:

Sarah Smiley’s website has a fantastic page of reader submitted  tips for dealing with deployment:

  • A Lollipop Tree: We went to the craft store and bought a Styrofoam globe, a stick and a flower pot with the green arrangement foam. Then we put a small lollipop in the globe for each day my husband would be gone (6 months is a lot of lollipops) and every night my son could take one out.
  • Picture This: When my husband went on deployment the first time, we took pictures of him in all of his favorite spots in the house. The day he left I placed all of his pictures in their designated areas so that I would never feel like he was gone.
  • Counting Trash: The first time my husband was deployed we hadn’t yet had our daughter. Instead of dwelling on the number of days he was going to be gone, I counted the number of times I had to take the garbage out. It sounds weird but starting at 26 instead of 180 really worked nicely.

Sarah Smiley is a syndicated columnist, author, and military wife. Sarah and her husband Dustin have three children: Ford (10), Owen (8) and Lindell (4). Dustin is a Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy. They live in Maine.

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