I recently was able to attend a meeting with a veteran and act as a mediator. It turns out his son's elementary school teacher heard the term PTSD from his wife during parent-teacher conference and the teacher took some drastic measures.
The teacher called the police and had them come to his home for a welfare check on the children. The veteran told me the cop rolled his eyes after seeing the young boys and left. There was no reason for this ignorant teacher to call the cops. There was no bruising, not injury -- nothing. The boy said he wanted to stay at school instead of going home because he was sick one day and all of a sudden, this teacher felt the veteran was a threat. The wife only innocently said the word in casual conversation. After all, care givers can have challenges, too, from living with someone who never forgets the hell of war.
This teacher even had the audacity to tell this veteran that he was not to come to the school anymore unless he told the principal. Are you kidding me?!
This male elementary school teacher had absolutely no idea what being a veteran is all about. He has no idea what war and PTSD are. He labeled this good veteran as a killer and, in so many words, felt just because he may have PTSD that he's a threat to the school and everyone around him.
It's ignorant for anyone to think that a veteran with PTSD will one day flip out and murder everyone. It's totally offense. If I hadn't been there to hear it myself, I wouldn't have believed it.
The teacher even invited the police school resource officer to sit in and listen. Of course, there was absolutely nothing criminal that took place. The only thing that happened was two veterans became upset -- myself included. I think the teacher was scared and so he wanted a police officer there. Well, unbeknownst to the teacher (but the SRO knew it), I'm a police officer.
I just don't understand how people can be so ignorant and offensive.
...And then I think of those who served in Vietnam.
Recently I was able to go on an incredible guided hunting trip sponsored by great people who appreciate veterans. To my great delight and surprise, my guide was a Vietnam veteran. We had some things in common and after hanging out together for just a day, I feel I have a lifelong friend and confidant. He gave me a hug at the end of the hunt. That meant the world to me. We're brothers and friends -- brothers-in-arms who understand one another. I was completely and totally honored to be able to go on that hunting trip.
Of course, I have no idea the horrible things my friend faced, especially after returning from Vietnam. The political climate back then was horrific. He even told me he had some friends who never spoke to him again after the war. Well, it wasn't his fault. He did the honorable thing. There was a draft. He answered the call of his nation.
Thankfully, his generation have done wonderful things for my generation. The VA care is so much better than it was. The political climate is so much better than it was when he came home from war. I'm reminded of Bill Dahl who wrote a chapter in my book, Warrior SOS. He said he came home in uniform and a girl he thought was cute, walked over to him and spat in his face.
I'm so grateful for the veterans who've gone before me. They've done all they can to make sure veterans would never be treated so horribly again.
Unfortunately, there are still people who will just never get it. There are people who will never understand. Sometimes, only veterans can help other veterans because no matter how hard others might try, there are somethings they'll never understand. And, thank God for that. Some things are just too horrible to have to live through. War is one of them.
For more about PTSD and warrior help, visit my other blog: www.WarriorSOS.blogspot.com
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Sunday, November 30, 2014
I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.
—Elder M. Russell Ballard, talk given to Salt Lake Area young adults, Oct. 18, 1981
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Dirge for Two Veterans
The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finished Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.
Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.
I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-keyed bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
As with voices and with tears.
I hear the great drums pounding
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.
For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropped together,
And the double grave awaits them.)
Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.
In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumined,
(‘Tis some mother’s large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)
O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.
The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.
(For more military and tactical writings, see my Warrior SOS blog: http://www.warriorsos.blogspot.com)
Monday, October 20, 2014
Monday, October 13, 2014
Our six kids outside of a Church building. The sun was bright!
Sometimes for those newly visiting our church, this unique meeting comes as a surprise. Occasionally, when we bring our friends along to church, we hope no one will say anything that isn't quite doctrinally correct. Regardless, these meetings can be wonderfully uplifting and spiritually edifying.
Since there are two parts of fast and testimony meeting, I will discuss both.
Members prayerfully fast during this day by going without food or water. Anyone can fast. We start and end our fast with a prayer. Generally, we fast for three meals, starting with dinner on Saturday evening. We don't fast to lose weight or simply go without food. We fast for a purpose. When fasting, we can ask God for additional help, whether it's for spiritual blessings, like gaining a greater witness of the divinity and truthfulness of a principle of the gospel, or we can fast for someone who is ill or otherwise in need of heavenly help. We don't have to wait until fast Sunday to fast. We can fast anytime and for anything. Fasting with purpose increases the intensity of our prayerful requests.
God is our Heavenly Father. He understands our physical capabilities and our needs at all times, including during the fast. He understands that sometimes we shouldn't fast. For instance, pregnant and nursing mothers shouldn't fast. If we need to take medicine, it's okay to drink. When we have questions about when to fast or for how long, we should use common sense and prayerfully consider it. Young children, for instance, shouldn't be asked to fast. But at a certain age, perhaps they can be encouraged to skip a meal.
Primary or Sunday School teachers should not bring treats on fast Sunday. Candy, snacks and food items are not the reason we come to church and these can be a distraction anyway. Occasionally, however, I don't think it's harmful. Interestingly, our kids have been loaded up with sugar during their primary meetings and we've had to deal with the hyper after-affects, which can be entertaining, too.
Seriously, though, when we fast we are asked to donate money -- this is in addition to tithe or the tithing we pay (ten percent of our income or our "increase"). This special fast offering, as it is called, goes to help others in need. These funds are carefully observed so that they are not spent unwisely. The bishop, a lay (or unpaid) minister, who oversees the congregation can give these funds for those whom he feels need them most.
It should be noted that the Church encourages all members to be self-reliant and frugal. The president of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson, recently declared,
"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt. Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a supply of food and clothing and were debt-free." (Ensign, Sept 2014.)
Again, these fast offering funds, donated by members around the world, help bless the lives of many others in need. We should be generous in our donations, knowing that many lives are being blessed, in particular those who are falling upon hard times. Giving without a grudge or without expecting something in return, helps bless and edify both the giver and the receiver.
Whenever I may think to withhold my substance, I consider how much the Lord has given me. Indeed, He has given me everything and He can take everything away, too. If fact, He provides me with the very breath I breathe. He sustains my very life! Therefore, I owe all that I have to Him. Whatever I can give, I do. Of course, I also need to take care of my families' needs first, but I can also sacrifice, too.
I recently came across a few talks by leaders in our Church, and I looked up some talks that I remember about testimonies. These quotations below say much more than I can say about testimonies on my own. Whether for the longtime member of the Church or for those newly converted to the faith, these statements and teachings below, when followed, allow testimony meetings to be spirit-filled and truly bless all those in attendance, especially the penitent and heartfelt seeker of spiritual comfort.
Please note that some of the teaching, reproof and advice given below is for those who are already members of the faith. I believe all Church members would benefit from reading and following this advice, as well as those who are new and/or returning to the faith.
Now, the statements:
Fast and testimony meetings are held once a month, usually the first Sunday. Generally, babies are blessed in that day. After the sacrament, the conducting brother bears a brief testimony. He then invited members to bear brief, heartfelt testimonies of the Savior, His teachings, and the Restoration. Parents and teachers should help children learn what a testimony is and when it is appropriate for them to express it.
Younger children should learn to share their testimonies at home or in primary until they're old enough to bear and appropriate testimony unaided in fast and testimony meeting.
—Elder Russell M. Nelson "Worshiping at Sacrament Meeting," Ensign, Aug 2004
Sometimes in a sacrament meeting talk or testimony, we hear a statement like this: “I know I do not tell my spouse often enough how much I love her. Today I want her, my children, and all of you to know that I love her.”
Such an expression of love may be appropriate. But when I hear a statement like this, I squirm and silently exclaim that the spouse and children should not be hearing this apparently rare and private communication in public at church! Hopefully the children hear love expressed and see love demonstrated between their parents in the regular routine of daily living. If, however, the public statement of love at church is a bit surprising to the spouse or the children, then indeed there is a need to be more diligent and concerned at home.
… The bearing of testimony need not be lengthy or eloquent. And we do not need to wait until the first Sunday of the month to declare our witness of things that are true. Within the walls of our own homes, we can and should bear pure testimony of the divinity and reality of the Father and the Son, of the great plan of happiness, and of the Restoration.
… And our testimonies are proclaimed and lived most powerfully in our own homes. Spouses, parents, and children should strive to overcome any hesitancy, reluctance, or embarrassment about bearing testimony. We should both create and look for opportunities to bear testimony of gospel truths—and live them.
A testimony is what we know to be true in our minds and in our hearts by the witness of the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2). As we profess truth rather than admonish, exhort, or simply share interesting experiences, we invite the Holy Ghost to confirm the verity of our words. The power of pure testimony (see Alma 4:19) does not come from sophisticated language or effective presentation; rather, it is the result of revelation conveyed by the third member of the Godhead, even the Holy Ghost.
—Elder Bednar, “More Diligent and Concerned at Home,” Oct 2009
Those who have prepared carefully for the fast and testimony meeting won't need to be reminded how to bear testimony, should they feel impressed to do so in the meeting.
They won't give sermons, nor exhortations, nor travel reports, nor try to entertain, as they bear witness.
Because they will have already expressed appreciation to people privately, they will have less need to do it publicly.
Neither will they feel a need to use eloquent language, or to go on at length.
—Pres Henry B Eyring, "Witness for God," Nov 1996
You can read my testimony on my Mormon.org profile page here: http://www.mormon.org/me/2GXB/JeffreyDenning
If you'd like to learn more about the Church, I invite you to watch Meet the Mormons, the movie. You can also talk to a neighbor or friend who's a member of the faith, or speak with the full-time missionaries. Two other good references for learning more are the Church's official websites: Mormon.org and LDS.org.