Monday, May 22, 2017

Memories & futures!

“When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” 

― C S Lewis

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9"

Over the past two years, I will admit to some of the most amazing growth and sole searching I have ever done. I have made changes in my life that I would never have thought about doing in the past let alone actually taken action on. As anyone that knows me knows, my health has been an issue for the past 20 plus years and honestly, I thought I was on the downslide of life.

Who would have thought that I was being prepared for a walk of a lifetime? I surely did not see it happening or even want to have it happen. All I wanted was to make a small difference in my own little way. I did not see any big pictures or God working in my life to become a beacon for others walking a road that needed lighting. So over this past couple years, I have been steered, yes steered through some pretty hairy corners with little more than what amounts to a golf cart in a formula one race. Most often I feel more than ill equipped to handle the situations that I am presented with but somehow the answers always seem to appear. (I say a golf cart because God knows I am no longer in the racing shape I used to be in that is for sure. I know what imagery, right?)

It was 2 years ago this week that I was down at the Foundation, meeting up with my current Service Dog, Mike. Over the past 2 years, we have been on a whirlwind tour of America. We've traveled from sea to shining sea and from north to south. During those travels, we have been able to help other veterans talk about issues they prefer to brush under the rug or help them fill out an application for a service dog and other times just be a quiet friend to sit and listen. No matter what I have walked away as a richer person with a heart that has grown because I have learned to step out of my own way. Learning that I am my biggest problem, always have been and always will be. 

So looking back on the past couple years is a great exercise in humility, being able to see a grand footprint of God where he has carried me through times I would not have made it on my own. We all have this capacity to look inwardly and should often but we all need to be reminded to do it with prayer and supplication so we stay right minded. In my own way, I see how I have been placed strategically in places at the right time to help others see things. I had nothing to do with the placement other than having been put there. I am grateful to be allowed to share in the lives of others and rejoice in the tears and smiles alike.

One of the super neat treats this past month was to take part in a tribute to the troops at a small but active American Legion Post here in NC. Post 65 in Statesville was honored to have Rockie Lynne a Country Music #1 recording Star and Veteran of the famous 82nd ABN Div himself, come play at their monthly meeting. Talk about showing veterans how to have a good time! 

Lucky for those of you who were not able to be there I was sitting front row and was able to record the entire show live and then put it up on Facebook and

“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse.” 
― Anthon St. Maarten

FYI- May is #NationalMilitaryAppreciationMonth, the month in which Americans are encouraged to honor those who serve or have served our country. 
Charlie, the Today Show ‘puppy with a purpose,’ invites you to join him and VetDogs to celebrate Military Appreciation Month by taking on a vital role for veterans with disabilities. We’re asking you to join the “Charlie's Squad” to help sponsor 10 specially trained service dogs for veterans with disabilities. for more info, and to make a donation today.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day's bring?

 “It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” 
― Roy T. Bennett

The 7th Annual VetDogs 5/10k Run Walk was held at Kent Island, MD on April 23, 2017. The event was a huge success and thank God the weather which had been threatening to be a washout decided to hold off. Mike and I arrived on Saturday evening to the event grounds under the fog and drizzle that had been keeping the hearty Marylanders heads down for almost a week on and off. It did not look like it was going to be a beautiful day of sunshine but we were prepared to be out there none the less to support VetDogs and all the runners/walkers that wanted to raise money for America's VetDogs.

When we woke up and saw the beautiful Sunrise I knew we had been blessed, the temps were perfect and the clouds even though red in the morning were not threatening at the moment. So off to the registration area we went to see what we could do before all the runners arrived. All the Volunteers were already making the day move to a steady hum. With nothing for us to do except grab the camera gear and head out to the main field, Mike and I strapped on our gear and took off allowing everyone to do their work without us being in the way. As the crowds arrived, we were able to capture many great pictures of Charlie and Olivia (the NBC Puppy with A Cause Team, seen weekday at 8:30 on the Today show Nationally.) They were one of the highlights for many of the participants that came out to support the foundation.

The Naval Academy sent their Honor Guard to open and close the ceremony and did a great job. Secretly I kept looking over my head as I do every year hoping to see the Blue Angels appear and do a flyover (yes my way of hinting to anyone with strings they can pull). Of course, we got Charlie out there to partake in the opening also. The local NBC affiliate did some taping of Mike, Myself, Liberty and Melanie another Veteran along with Charlie and Olivia. Needless to say, some great press was had for VetDogs and the GuideDog Foundation throughout the day.

Of course, Mike did his fair share of hanging out in front of the camera along with many of his cousins and other service dogs. It was just a great opportunity to be able to show how Veterans are able to get back into the community and become powerful examples of what great citizens they are. This particular event seemed to draw this year more of our sister veterans with service dogs than past years which was great to see. I was finally able to meet CSM Evans who was this year's Keynote speaker. One of the reasons I had been looking forward to meeting her for a long time is we had both started out in the 82nd Abn Div around the same time even attending the fun in the sun event in Grenada. Our paths never crossed while on active duty, but we have chatted since becoming vetdogs team members, so it was great to finally meet each other.

Some of the other pictures from the event are at the bottom of the page. There were a lot of pets at the event along with a good number of puppy's in training. Some from the prison program and some from the home raising program. I will take a second here to point out that if you are interested in helping out, please contact America's VetDogs through their website they are always looking for volunteers of all shapes and sizes ;).

 Remember, the month of May is a busy month for many. There are many holidays along with schools getting ready to let out for summer vacations. I know that Mike and I have already started to get calls for different events that people would like us to be at. Don't forget about your nation's Veterans when you start to plan your Memorial Day events. Yes, we're honoring our soldiers and sailors that have passed but who better than a veteran to help our communities do that honor. If you don't know a veteran, please look up one of your Veteran Service organizations such as the American Legion, VFW or DAV. There are others also you can call, or even towns have veteran community links nowadays. Take a moment and reach out to ask for help it will bring a special meaning to your next event and also help bring a veteran back into the community.

 “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” 
― Wayne W. Dyer

“We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it.” 
― Rick Warren