“Be kind to one another…”

be kind

That quote is from the book of Ephesians, in the Bible. The above art is by Ramon Lo. It felt right, somehow. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32  I chose the art because even though it has these lovely swirls in it, I also saw it as being said in the midst of explosions. And quite rightly so, in the wake of all the violence we saw this weekend. Unfortunately, it was not just in Paris, but also in Beruit, Kenya, Lebanon… on and on it goes. The common thread? ISIS. Muslims.

I read the most fantastic article today. It appealed to me because it was full of history. I think it should be mandatory! “Christianity & Islam: Are We at War?” by Father Mitch Pacwa SJ (shared online by http://www.stmarkbeaman.org). It was full of information and perspective. I highly recommend it. I learned so much. And it fed my desire to write this all out.

I was chastised for putting up a meme on Facebook recently, by a friend. It made me think, and I am still thinking, and pondering the comment. The meme was posted by a site called, “Dysfunctional Vets.” Dysfunctional Vets Meme

I don’t particularly like violence. I abhor war, because I know up close and personal what being at war can do to a person. So I do not advocate violence. But as a country, a culture, a world, how do we stop a violent people? A people whose agenda requires them to obliterate their enemy? If one of theirs comes to know Christ and coverts, it is required that they be killed, and all those who allowed them to covert be killed. They do not consider Christians or Jews to be “of the book.” The article I mentioned above does a fantastic job of explaining all of the differences in the sects within the Muslim belief system. It is also very important to know that the Muslim faith has no “governing board,” no “ultimate authority” on what you have to believe and what you don’t. It is up to each independent believer to decide for themselves. So when they spout, “We are not a violent religion,” what they are saying is the particular Imam they follow, and the particular verses they believe in, do not espouse violence. But at least half of those who follow Mohammed are violent. And that is who is bombing, beheading, raping, killing, stealing, destroying… throughout the world. So how do we thwart this violence? Because I am fairly certain they will not stop until all of those who are not “of the book” are removed. And they do not believe in living side-by-side. They do not espouse co-existing. It is their way or death. And if you think they will allow a country to be Christian, to attend Christian Churches, have Christian artwork, books (including the Bible) under Muslim Sharia Law, you are kidding yourself. Ask someone in Syria… ask why they are fleeing by the millions.

The Syrian refugees who are trying to escape, the families ravaged by war, the Christians who flee because they know to stay means execution – those are the refugees I would help. Those are the people I would welcome. But has anyone looked at who is coming in?Have you watched in Germany? Switzerland? France? Have you seen the demographics of the refugees storming the borders in Europe? If you can peek through the political correctness and main-stream-media hype, you will see the vast majority are men and boys. Now, sit back and ask yourself why that is. I am not suggesting they are all militant jihadists. (But that does bear pondering over). What I am suggesting is that they do not bring their wives or daughters because women don’t count for much in their culture. They take care of their goats better than their daughters. A wife is disposable, tradable, and definitely replaceable. From what was once a matriarchal society to what the Islamic countries have now become, insofar as the rights of women and girls, it makes you sick to your stomach (especially to me, because I am a woman and a Christian).

In one town in Germany, home to about 100 people, they’ve had 1000s of refugees arrive.(Here’s one link: http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/german-town-of-100-must-take-1000-syrian-migrants/). It’s wreaking havoc as people across Europe try to deal with all these refugees. And Obama wants us to do the same here. And frankly, it scares me. We can barely manage to care for our own. We have homeless veterans who are not cared for. We have the mentally ill who are left to roam the streets. Runaway teens, drug users, the homeless for whom we do not care. We have joblessness already. How are we expected to take in more people, with no discernible job skills, into our already-broken and overloaded system? As a former welfare office manager, I can attest to how we are not ready to care for refugees. We can’t care for the people born here, or already living here. And we are a country that keeps raising its debt ceiling, printing worthless money, and hasn’t had a balanced budget in recent memory. I only wish the government would allow us citizens to balance our private debts and checkbook like they do!! This is a country that devalues human life so much, it is perfectly legal to kill unborn and recently-born children. How are we to care for these refugees? Who will care for them? Will you? Your church?Will you willingly house them? Feed them? Clothe them? What about that disabled veteran who fought for us over in the Middle East, who has to live on the streets or in shelters? Are you caring for him? If not, how can you expect to care for the hundreds of thousands of refugees Obama wants to allow in? Is your city, your town, your neighborhood ready?

“Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 4-6

I know my friend was surprised by the meme about violence. Because I am generally a Philippians 4 person. I really am. But historically, we have battled with these sorts of zealots before. Many times. As the parent of a veteran, my hackles rise when I am expected to bring in people to care for, when we don’t care for our vets, let alone people who have no discernible skill sets or ways to support themselves. There is so much deeply imbedded in how we divvy out our benefits; costs and Federal requirements no one has a clue about. Did you know that if a certain percentage of the population speaks a specific language, and English is not the primary language spoken in the home, the state requires that all documentation be provided in their own language? That each public entity serving that populace must hire workers who speak that language and are part of that demographic? That banks, landowners who rent, service agencies (even car dealerships, etc) have all documentation available in that language? And it is based on the most current census numbers. Except when the Federal Government sends in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Arabic-only speaking countries. Do you realize the expense incurred for having to translate everything into the various Arabic dialects? And having to hire Arab speakers at all government agencies? Banks? Doctor’s offices? Hospitals? On and on the burden goes.

No, I do not advocate violence. I truly do not. But quite often it is the sole way evil can be stopped. We’ve done it before. Read history. And do the other half of the Muslim believers, those who are bombing places like Paris, expect an outcome wherein they take over? Well, yes; yes they do. They actually think that by bombing, breeding, and otherwise infiltrating the Western World, they will take it over and the Muslim belief system and Sharia Law will rule the world. How do we thwart that, and stop it in its tracks? (Read some history on Vlad the Impaler).

I'll see you

I tend towards being a prepper, and even though we haven’t prepped much, we still believe the ideas are pretty good. Living where we do, it makes lots of sense just from a natural disaster point of view, let alone civil and/or international unrest. It may be necessary with weather, earthquakes, and now violence. And I do favor open-carry laws, and definitely defend the 2nd Amendment. I do not believe we need a national registry for gun owners, or that the government should come and take our weapons from us (look what happened in Paris, a gun-free zone). And I heartily support our troops who are serving and all those who have served before. (Thank you for your service). I do not want to harm the already-harmed refugee families fleeing the enemy – Islam in its ugliest forms. Most especially Christians fleeing from Islamic terrorism. But how do we fix this? Our country’s landscape will forever be changed with this many refugees coming in, all at once. It will no longer be Apple Pie and the American Way. It just won’t be able to remain what we all have loved.

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This weekend, I watched the TV coverage of the Paris attacks and I wept. Why? Because this world is nothing like the world I was born into, or even what it was 15-20 years ago. I cried because I lived through VietNam. The entire saga of the Middle East, historically, and in my time, the Hostage Crisis during the 1972 Olympics clear through to when Operation Desert Storm began in earnest, up to and including lives lost this week. We have a long history in the Middle East. They are against every thing we believe in and stand for. And I cried this weekend because I realized my 16-year-old was too young to remember 9/11 – this was his first view of an Islamic attack on a free people. He only watches YouTube videos from 9/11. I cried because I have no certainty for his future without bloodshed. And when I thought of my little grandbabies, I wept even more. What is the world we will leave to them? What will the world become, my country become, in the next 5-10 years? Will we recover from Obama? We will stop this modern Horde? Can we bring this world, this country, our culture back? I am doubtful. Historically, they were referred to as the Muslim Horde clear back to 710 AD.  [There’s a great article I tried to cite, but for some reason it didn’t let me.  The link is this: http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/medieval/articles/muslimhorde.aspx  The article was written by Robert C. Daniels (I recommend it highly, too!)]. Hordes tended to come “en masse” and obliterate their enemies. It has been repeated over and over again, throughout history, back to Mohammed himself (570 AD – 632 AD).

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I still think we need to be a Christian people and that we desperately need to cling to the tenets of our faith. But we also need to be prepared to defend our faith, our freedoms, our culture, our way of life. Because if the sects of the Muslim faith who are perpetrating all these atrocities are allowed to continue unchecked, this world, as you and I know it, will no longer exist. Yes, pray for France, for Paris. But also pray for Beruit, Kenya, Lebanon, the entire Middle East… and our free world. Because I firmly believe these people “of the book” are determined that all those of us not “of the book” need to be exterminated. I don’t see a peaceful option out of this. I am so tired of the nice guys being trampled upon. But to my faith, I hungrily cling, as a man in a parched desert seeks water, “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

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Blowing off a little steam….

12247844751816776100wsnaccad_feather-pen.svg.medAs a self-proclaimed blogger, I blog for a variety of reasons.  One reason is that I write far better than I speak. I feel that I can more fully express myself using the written word than in conversation.  I also love to use a slightly different vocabulary when I write, versus my spoken words. I am often called a “Grammar-Nazi” because poor grammar and punctuation make me crazy.  I can no longer enjoy a newspaper because their copy-editors obviously do not consult with their type-setters before allowing final print.  I read lots of blogs and I have such a variety of interests, I find that blogging is by far a more pleasurable experience, along with reading a good novel.

Another reason to blog is to share little tid-bits with others that I have garnered along the way.  There is an expression that really describes me, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  That saying describes my intellectual pursuits to a “t”!   I have little bits of information and knowledge about a variety of issues and I love sharing them with people. It is not intellectual snobbery in any way, because I am so fully aware of my lack of education and formation in so many areas.  When you cannot help your kids with their schoolwork, you realize that the world is passing you by.  I read a wonderful blog post today about the horrors of technology and the havoc it is having on organized religion.  And I couldn’t help but add my two-cents’ worth about the lack of quiet, silence, and the stillness one can enjoy in the company of good friends, without electronic interference.  Such a tragedy.  And still it is a tool, as witnessed by the fact that I am blogging!! Ha-Ha!

Another reason to blog, for me, is to allow me to blow off steam about certain issues that really fry me.  And people are free to read along with my rants, or they can opt to not read them.  It is one of the benefits of a blog versus a conversation.  You can choose to click off this post and ignore it, something we can’t do when enduring pithy or boring conversations!

Today, my rant is regarding the care our veterans receive from our government, and the audacity of this Administration and our Federal Government to think they can treat the entire country with centralized healthcare, when a veteran cannot even get an appointment with a primary care VA doctor.  Sometimes they wait, quite literally, years, for their first appointment.  YEARS.  We have Vietnam veterans who are finally getting healthcare. Hello?!?!  Is anyone listening??? Vietnam veterans!!!  Today was so infuriating, that I decided to do a little fact-checking myself.  When you Google veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, you get articles galore.  And I am talking “mainstream” media like CBS, NBC, ABC as well as FOX, and many, many other news outlets (both considered “left” or “right” in their reporting).  As I got more and more into it, I was amazed at all the articles and interviews, facts and figures that are out there.  Why we don’t hear about this more often is just beyond proper grammar!! (In other words, it made me want to use “bad” words!!). So let me hit you with some history and some facts that I was able to gather so very quickly and simply:

World Trade Center AttackedSince 9/11 happened, we have deployed 2,000,000+ soldiers (that’s million!!).  52.2% currently in uniform have served since 9/11.  Just .75% of the US Population is in uniform (paltry number in comparisons to other countries) which is less than 1% of the population – ONE PERCENT. Those 2+ million soldiers are keeping us safe in our beds at night and allowing us to have life as “normal,” which is something most vets never have!! 22,658,000 living veterans were in the USA as of 9/11/11.  1,981,000 living World War II veterans!  Of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, 12.1% are unemployed.  That’s higher than the national average.  Young male vets (aged 25-34) have an unemployment rate of 21.9% (21.9%!!!!).  Since we officially went to war in 2003, 2.5 MILLION soldiers have been deployed. Of that number, 37,000 have deployed more than 5 times; 400,000 have deployed 3+ times.  That, to me, is wrong on so many, many fronts.  There are 1.6 MILLION veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and of that number 670,000 are classified as disabled.  100,000 still have their initial disability claims PENDING.  In regards to payments for veteran’s benefits, here are some figures that should stagger the mind:

The peak pay period (of Vet benefits) for WWI veterans was 1969 (yes, 1969!)!!!!

The peak pay period (of vet benefits) for WWII veterans was the 1980s!!! Yes, 1980s!!!!

dvasealAccording to recent VA statistics, there are currently 860,000 veterans going through disabled “processing.”  There are 270,000 PTSD veterans with benefits PENDING.  There have been 150,000 vets paid for PTSD suffering.  The costs of these payments, combined with all veteran disability payments so far, is well over the $1 TRILLION mark!  45% of Iraq and Afghanistan vets have applied for disability benefits, which is roughly double that of the First Gulf War.  The differences are in the ailments themselves.  In prior wars, up until the First Gulf War, we did not know much about PTSD or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).  The veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have, on average, 8 ailments to claim.  Vietnam veterans averaged 4, while WWII and Korean vets averaged just 2 ailments per claim.  More than 1600 vets (as of May 2013) had lost limbs, 177,000 have significant hearing loss, and 200 require face transplants.  And there is no estimate of those who suffer in silence, having seen horrific things and who do not seek assistance.

1 in 7 veterans were rated as 70% disabled in 2000; today it is more than 1 in 4.

Processing of disability claims average 200 days.  As of May 20, 2013 the VA had 838,821 claims waiting to be processed. 2/3 of them, or 559,186 were pending at 125+ days, with the average completion at 345 days. If you appeal a prior ruling, the process is even longer.  Nearly 200,000 vets have DIED while waiting for benefits to be processed.  “Some have waited 10+ YEARS for a VA decision,” says Paul Sullivan, the Public Affairs Director of Bergman and Moore, a law firm specializing in obtaining benefits for vets.  It is so bad, the VA has asked to partner with the DAV and American Legion to help vets file claims!

The research on these facts took me all of about 10 minutes.  The information here should cause us all to pause and truly think about what we are doing.  We have voted to have a national healthcare system to treat all Americans.  How can we expect treatment at the hands of a government that cannot even care for its injured veterans?  Someone I am close to walked in to the VA again today, seeking assistance.  He noticed that he was one of 2 or 3 under the age of 50 in the building.  The worker he spoke to was fervent in his desire to assist him, but told him there is not much he can do, other than request someone to call within the next 8-10 days, with a request to start the appointment process. He separated from the military 3 years ago and still has not been able to get an appointment with a primary care physician, to get referrals to all the specialists he is supposed to be seeing.  He was told to keep applying but to see his personal physician to receive treatment (at his own cost) until his case is processed.  He told him “maybe in the next 10 years” he’d get help.

To me, as he told me this, I was embarrassed at how my country was treating this disabled veteran; I was also so angry, I got a stomach ache.  And when I saw all the articles written and papers researched on this very subject, just in my 10-minutes of research online, I became incensed and livid.  How can we do this?  Do you thank a veteran who lets you know he/she served (sometimes they wear hats, have tattoos, or have stickers on their cars)?  I always thank a serviceman/woman for their service. How lame is that???? In light of what I now know, I am embarrassed that I do thank them; it seems so little compared to what they have done for me and what they still go through.  What kind of thank-you from our country takes YEARS to process??? I had no idea taking care of them AFTER they served was so abysmal.  We are failing our veterans.

I used to work for a county government a few years ago.  In the course of my job, I came into constant contact with the heads of varying county agencies.  One agency head whom I really took a liking to was the head of Veterans’ Affairs.  I loved his fervor and his dedication to our veterans.  He is a veteran, himself, and he knows the ins and outs of service and how treacherous returning to civilian life can be, especially for our veterans.  He told me quite a number a years ago, that we, as a country, were not ready for our veterans.  We did not have the processes in place; the buildings and facilities, and specialists in place; nor did we have financing.  He related how difficult it was to get funding for veterans. He foresaw the overwhelming task it would be to take care of all of our injured and disabled vets, as well as those who did not claim an injury, but just needed help getting back on their feet after serving in the military and serving during conflict.

TOMB-photo3The photo is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, and its perpetual guard.  We pay tribute to our dead, to those who have served our country and given their life’s blood keeping us a free nation.  I usually weep, just watching the Guard walk back and forth in all sorts of weather and conditions, honoring our fallen soldiers.  Our living veterans need our care and admiration as well.  I was honored this past Veteran’s Day to go to the local National Cemetery.  I cried as I saw how much their service takes from our veterans, and how it still takes from them.  Not being able to see a doctor, after 3 years of being separated, two tours in a war zone, and having been declared disabled, is a crime.  That’s more than 1,000 days after service without treatment.  And that is just one example out of 838,821 claims waiting to be processed.  Our system is broken; it is a travesty against the freedom these soldiers fought to protect.  We should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation.  How is it we can send money overseas, we can supply countries with money to go to war, and we spend money to care for victims of disasters all over the world, and we cannot take care of those we owe so much to, keeping us free, and politically healthy, as a nation? I hope you become just as angry and help change this.  It is a travesty our Founding Fathers would be ashamed of.

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