Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I made the mistake this evening of curling up with J.R. to watch Law and Order SVU on the bed. It was a matter of minutes before I was drooling on his shoulder. I woke up at nine to an empty room. I wasn't really sure where J.R. had disappeared to, but I figured he was probably off buying 300 since he has been dieing to watch it and counting down the days to its release. He returned half an hour later with 300 in hand.

I wasn't really in the mood to watch yet another movie so I curled up with the last Harry Potter book (which I don't think I will ever finish due to constant interruptions every time I pick the book up) and made an attempt to block out the tv. It wasn't long until the movie was over and J.R. was yelling at me to clean off the bed so he could go to sleep. A little confused as to why he would be coming to bed so early I questioned him. Apparently he now has Wednesday morning formations.

When we first arrived at Walter Reed outpatient soldiers were expected to be at formation every morning for accountability. After the scandal they were cut down to only Monday and Friday mornings. The wounded soldiers are even now allowed to sit in formation instead of stand. For the majority of the soldiers being treated here, it is not much to ask to stand in a morning formation, or even just to show up for one. But for soldiers more severly injured the task is a bit more challenging. Getting out the door in the morning isn't as easy as it use to be. It takes time to put on a prosthetic, tie shoes, and get dressed. Having a morning formation three days a week just adds to the frustration of living here.

I understand the military has to have accountability of the men and women on post. I also understand that it's hard to find a line between patient and soldier. However, there has to be a better way to track all of your soldiers on post. Why not have little "time clocks" located around post where a soldier can log in to show they are still alive and on post. Every room on post has a computer in it. Is it not possible to create some program where soldiers can log in from their room for accountability. If there is important information that needs to be put out for all of the soldiers, why not just load it into the program. That way any soldier with a memory problem would have a visual that they could look at at any point during the day. I'm sure that idea would be turned down due to funding. Well that and it would take to much energy for anyone on this post to even begin to create it.

I know we are out of here in a short period of time. And J.R. no longer minds waking up to go to formation. He has had enough time to adjust to his new normal that it's not a big deal. But for the freshly injured guys it is. I worry that by adding this Wednesday formation Walter Reed is slowly sinking back into old habits. The scandal has already happened and it's old news. What will happen a year from now when the cameras have all left and this isn't a headline story? What happens when the public forgets? This facility is still overcrowded, under staffed, and stressed beyond it's means. Yes, there have been improvements. There are still many more needed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I hate Walter Reed. I hate this cracker box. This place has a way of taking the joy out of every part of life. Once here for extended periods of time you become so hardened to everything around you that you can no longer be happy. You either sleep all the time, or not at all. Eat everything is site, or starve silently in your room. One lives in a constant state of unbalance. Unable to be happy, unable to be sad. Not able to really feel anything at all. All you can do is glue on a smile and parade around as the happy couple that has overcome a war injury. Yes, at least that way the rest of the world will think you are still sane.

Today has been another reminder that even though we've walked so far on this very rough road of war, our feet our sore, and our patience is wearing thin. I.am.tired. I'm tired of waking up in the same cramped little room. Tired of walking into a hospital and seeing soldiers with fresh wounds. Tired of not feeling anything. Tired of waiting on them or they or the people who do that. Do those people even exist? Who are they?

I know we are going home soon. Trust me I know. But is this going to be easier once we are home? How long will the euphoria of being in our own space last?

We went to a movie tonight. He drove. On the way home his myoelectric arm became fastened to the wheel. Try as hard as he could he could not open the jaws. He ended up yanking his arm out of the socket and pulling the prosthetic off the wheel and throwing it into my lap. He has threatened to run it over with the car and I wouldn't put it past him. I know he is frustrated. I know he is tired too. I know this road is harder for him than me. All I'm asking is that we get on a smooth straight road with only minor bumps SOON. I'm just to exhausted to stay on the current path for much longer.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Catch Up

Oh what a week. Every time I think I have a moment to sit down and relax I get pulled away for something else. It's getting rather frustrating. The good news is that I feel better and I'm no longer worrying about where the nearest garbage can is. And for those of you who think I'm pregnant I can assure you I am not. When your husband is taking medication that has potential birth defects listed in the side effects you are extremely careful to avoid any unplanned accidents.

Yesterday was a very exciting day for us. We have officially signed off on the med board paperwork and we are waiting for orders to be cut. Translation: we have less than two weeks to go until we are HOME FOR GOOD!!! There isn't really a whole lot left for us to do but sit and wait. Our paperwork is almost complete and until we have our orders in our hand we cannot go anywhere. It's a nice feeling to know that we are almost out of Walter Reed and back in WI. Even though I'm beyond excited to return home I must admit that I'm also very nervous. It's a little frightening to think that once we are there we are completely on our own. If his arm breaks it's not as easy to get it fixed. We can no longer just walk the two blocks to the hospital and hand it off to Mac for repair. And as much as I would like to think that I give great hand massages, I know that they are nothing compared to Kristi's (J.R.'s OT) and J.R. will surely spend plenty of time whining about that. I know it's going to take time to settle back into a normal life. I just hope we both have the patience for it.

I will say that the week we just had back in WI calmed my nerves about the final return home a bit. It was a very encouraging glimpse of the future. In the beginning of the week, J.R. became aware of what he does and does not own by dumping all of his possessions on the floor. At one point he looked at me and informed me that he "has a lot of stuff." My response was something along the lines of "duh" but with a few added colorful bits of language.

After spending the first part of the week passing time with sorting and cleaning we finally made it to Friday. We were both so excited to see J.R.'s unit come home. We arrived in the cities about an hour before the buses rolled in and right away we ran into Oliver in the parking lot. Oliver was the gunner in J.R.'s vehicle the night he was hit. He suffered shrapnel wounds in his hands and his knees and was sent home as well. However, because he was not as seriously injured they were separated once they were state side. They had not seen each other since Christmas. I can't describe the moment they first saw each other. There just aren't words to explain it. I don't think I can even fully understand what it meant to my husband to see Oliver again. I just know that for both of us it was a relief to see him with all ten fingers and ten toes running around. After a short discussion about what happened the night of December 19, we left to meet up with a few other soldiers. Everybody was excited to see J.R. There were hugs, handshakes, and more hugs. It wasn't long before the buses rolled in and the whole unit was in their final formation. The men convinced J.R. to join them. I was so proud of him as I watched him join his unit. After the guys were released we all sat around talking about the last seven months. What happened in Iraq, what happened in D.C., and how the unit was handling the trauma of their time overseas. We discussed the accident over and over. Fahlin, Oliver, and J.R. all replayed what they remembered. I know there will be many more lengthy discussions in the future about what happened the night of December 19th. For now I'm just glad the men are home and the healing process can truly begin.

Saturday and Sunday we spent in Stillwater, MN for lumberjack days. Seeing the expression on the faces of fellow lumberjacks when they first saw J.R. was hysterical. It took a minute for a lot of them to realize who they were looking at. But the excitement and the smiles that followed were worth a million dollars a piece. We spent both days soaking up the sun and cheering on our friends. J.R. got on a log for the first time on Saturday. I knew once he saw the logs by the water it wouldn't be long before his curiosity would win him over and he would be rolling. He was determined to roll in plain tennis shoes with no spikes. After tying his shoes and wishing him good luck we walked down to the water. He rolled the log into the water, looked it over, and withing seconds was rolling as though he had never missed a day. No one could miss the smile that stretched from ear to ear on his face. Knowing that he could still get on a log and roll without a problem was a huge step in the right direction to getting back his normal life.

Sunday night we drove up to Hayward. Due to severe weather that decided to blow over our apartment, we were forced to stay put until later in the evening. This meant a very late road trip up north. We left our apartment around 9 pm. J.R. snuggled into the passenger seat and immediately closed his eyes. What a surprise. No more than ten minutes into the trip I saw my first deer on the side of the road. I slowed down, the deer stayed put, and I drove happily on my way. Half way there I hit a very unexpected detour. I'm not sure what the creator of the detour was smoking when they laid out the path, but how dare they not share with those of us driving the detour. I'm sure it would have been much more entertaining had they shared. Maybe then I could have seen the humor of the back country roads that are pitch black, hilly, and full of death curves. Not to mention the man eating deer that are lurking by the side of the road just waiting to attack an unsuspecting car. I saw SIX deer on my way. SIX! It's a small miracle we made it to Hayward in one piece with a dent free car. We did finally make it to our final destination. Half an hour later than planned, but still we were there. It didn't take long for me to find a bed and fall asleep.

Monday morning we slept in. Around noon we went into the shop and J.R. pulled out his saw mill. He sawed for the first time since he was injured. He can still do it!! After cutting to logs of pine it was time to keep moving and check on the mini storage unit. Everything was still intact. We then went and met up with some of J.R.'s friends. Overall a good day.

Tuesday was not nearly as exciting. In the midst of packing to return back to D.C. I received a phone call from work. Big changes are taking place in the shoe department of Macy's. I'm frustrated. I worked so hard to keep this job and now everything about it is going to be different. It is completely out of my control and I can't stop the changes that are coming. I can't really openly talk about them yet either. I just know that I have some very big decisions and a lot of options to be looking at right now. And as much as I want to rule out having to look for a different job, I feel it would be in my best interest to at least have an idea of other positions that are currently available.

I believe that pretty much is one short catch up session for everything that has been going on in life. As always there is more going on then I can often keep track of. The rest of my day is going to be spent packing more boxes and making even more trips to the post office. Always enjoyable. At least there is now an end in site for our time in D.C.

*As a side note: I know blogger is refusing to publish my post with the correct spacing and blah blah blah. I'm working on it, but my patience is running thin. So for now... deal with it :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


We are back in D.C. and what a trip it has been. Our flight left at 6:10 this morning from Minneapolis/St. Paul. We spent the night in a hotel so we didn't have to leave our apartment at three am to catch a plane. Even with staying in the cities it was still an early wake up call. The alarm went off at 3:45. I felt as if I had just laid my head on the pillow and closed my eyes. I managed to roll my eyes and within seconds of standing up I felt the urge to throw up all over the floor. I didn't. I took a shower, threw some clothes on, and then sat on the floor with a bucket while J.R. frantically ran around throwing our possessions back into the suitcases. He finally convinced me to drink a bit of water and for a moment I felt a bit better.

We went downstairs and loaded up the van. Fifteen minutes of hell in a car later we were at the airport. I no more then stepped out of the van and I was running for the garbage can. Now try to imagine throwing while people are staring at you and then having your husband telling you to hurry up because we are going to miss the plane. Not his brightest moment. He wasn't exactly thrilled when I yelled at him to open my suitcase and dig out my toothbrush. Apparently he thought I should just swish some water around in my mouth and chew a piece of gum. After making it quite clear that I was not taking one more step until a toothbrush appeared out of the suitcase and into my hand, he went into action and produced a toothbrush from the very bottom of the luggage. I brushed my teeth right on the sidewalk over the garbage can. I felt like a moron but whatever. At least I felt better.. for the moment.

The whole way into the airport I had to listen to J.R. grumble about the big long line we were going to have to stand in all because I took so long to throw up. How loving of him. But it wasn't long before we had made it through security and I was waiting to get on the plane. Again I started to feel queezy. We boarded our flight and were fortunate enough to be placed in an exit row. At least I could sit comfortably with the added leg room. I immediately found all of the puke bags in my row and shoved them in the pocket in front of me. I had to inspect them all and find my preferred bag. I managed to not throw up on the flight and fell asleep and took a nice two hour nap. I woke up with drool all over my face. Just how I want everyone on the plane to see me. At least nobody had to watch me throw up in a bag. Who wants to sit next to that person on the plane?

So I've made it home, remade the bed, and have curled up with the computer. I'm way behind on everything. There is a TON to write about including seeing J.R.'s unit, watching him logroll for the first time, and a debate about my job. But all of that takes a lot of thought and right now I just want to focus on eating a piece of toast and not having to run to the bathroom two minutes later. Now I just have to figure out if I picked up a touch of the flu or if it's food poisoning from dinner last night. At least J.R. is getting a little better about taking care of me. He carried all the bags up to the room, offered to get me water, and even helped tuck me under the covers. About time.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Full Speed Ahead

So much going on and so little time. I am exhausted. I'll get around to posting eventually but it might be a few days. For now I need to finish laundry and get to bed so I can wake up tomorrow and run around some more.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Again

I am once again back in Wisconsin and I have to say it feels wonderful. It is such a great feeling to walk through the door of your own place and sit on your own furniture. I'm so glad that this time I have been able to return with J.R. as well.

Speaking of J.R., he has been rather entertaining to watch. Since October of 2005 he has barely been inside the apartment. Add in the injury and the meds and his memories of the apartment are very limited. He no longer remembers what he owns and where it's located within our home. To fix this problem he has opened every box and dumped the contents on the floor. Needless to say I can no longer walk through the apartment or see the carpet. But I'm ok with that. It's just nice to finally have him here in the apartment with me.

Since J.R. has taken over every room I have been living in my safe haven of my kitchen. It is the only room that he doesn't dare touch as he knows I will chase him out with whatever kitchen utensil happens to be in my hand at the time. I enjoy cooking and since it's the only room I can move around in, I've spent most of my time making more food then we will ever eat in ten days. I have a feeling my neighbors will have full fridges when we go back to D.C.

As long as we are on the topic of neighbors, I have to say that I'm very excited to have another young couple living in our building now. They moved in to one of the upstairs apartments about a month ago. Tonight they are coming over for dinner. I'm buying a new grill today so we can enjoy the deck and a nice evening outside.

In a quest to find Monday's paper I also met the neighbors next door. Larry is 91 and Betty is in her early 80's. I was shocked that as soon as I knocked on their door they knew who I was. We had a very lengthy discussion about J.R. and how he is doing since the accident. I also found out that Larry is a World War II vet. He has some amazing stories from his time in the military. I have a feeling there will be many more visits with Larry and Betty in the future.

I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for Friday. I know it's going to be a mixture of so many feelings when J.R.'s unit walks off the bus. I'm so excited to see them all return to their families. I made sure to buy some waterproof mascara. I'm hoping that by using it it will be that Murphy's law kind of thing. If I didn't wear it I would be doomed to cry and have makeup running all over my face. So by taking a small precaution I'm hoping that I wont even cry at all and it never would have been necessary. It's a nice thought at least.

I believe it's time for me to go attempt to wake up J.R. He's been telling me all week how we have to go shop in Eau Claire. Now I just have to wake him up so that we can make it over there before the shops close! Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Lazy Day

Today has been a very, very lazy Saturday. I slept in this morning for the first time in what seems to be forever. I rolled out of bed around ten am and got ready for the day. After taking a shower and throwing on a bit of makeup I crawled back into bed with J.R. to watch a reruns of Man vs. Wild. Around noon J.R. was finally forced to wake up. A wonderful gentleman from the area who has sent us multiple care packages was on post today. He stopped by and chatted for a while. It was nice to finally put a face with the name on the box. And it's always interesting to learn about the lives of our supporters. So often they too have gone through a similar situation and they can truly relate to our lives at the moment. There is a lot of comfort in that.

After our visit, J.R. and I retreated back to our room. The plan for the day was to pack boxes and get a few things ready to mail home. J.R. laid down and fell back asleep. He's been sleeping ever since. I find it odd that he often only functions on four or five hours of sleep. Then one day it seems to catch up with him and he sleeps all day. I'm hoping that he isn't wide awake all night. If he is then I have to sleep with the lights on and the tv blaring. The joys of living in a cracker box.

Now usually when J.R. decides to sleep an excessive amount during the afternoon I put my foot down and annoy him until he decides to roll out of bed and accomplish something. I'll do anything from tickle his feet, to poking him, to singing him stupid songs. It drives him nuts. Maybe this is a tad evil of me but if he stopped going to bed at five am he wouldn't need to sleep allllllllllllllllllllllllllll day. Just a thought. Today the sleeping hasn't bothered me at all. I've actually enjoyed it. I have the tv off, the radio off, and the room is silent. Actually the whole house is silent for once. I'm trying to take advantage of the quiet to plow through the rest of the Harry Potter books. I finished book four this morning and am about to start book five. It's just me, a bottle of coke, and a bag of oatmeal raisin cookies hanging out in the bed reading. It is fabulous.

Now I wouldn't be in such a crunch to finish Harry Potter if it wasn't for the fact that the new book is coming out very soon and I can no longer remember what happened in the last few books. It's a good thing I am officially on vacation and I'm allowed to do nothing but sit and read all day. I know if I don't read fast and furious someone is bound to ruin the last book for me. I haven't even preordered a copy of the last book. I figure at this point I am doomed to have the story ruined. Take note... if you read faster than me and you spoil the ending I will dislike you for a very long time.

Changing gears. Yesterday I sent a letter to the Fund about how the car situation was handled. I received a call this morning from the President of the Fund who was very apologetic and even complemented me on a well written letter. I feel a lot better about the situation after sending the letter and I can finally relax a little bit. I'm glad to have that cleared up before I go home on leave.

As for now J.R. has decided to wake up and is attacking my cookie collection. I'm off to go defend my stash of calorie filled delicacies from the hands of a cookie thief.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Welcome Home Red Bulls


The men and women in J.R.'s unit are officially stateside. A huge thank you to the Maine Troop Greeters who were able to be there for the soldiers arrival. Here are pictures of their arrival.

We head home Monday to see the guys. I know how anxious I am to see the unit. I can't even begin to imagine how J.R. is feeling. I know it will be a huge relief for both of us to see everyone home safe and with their families. It's been a long deployment.

It's been a long week and it's finally the weekend. The only thing I can do is pack a bag for home and attempt to find a ride from the airport. I can't wait to get back.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Note

Dear Concerned Readers-

I just got off the phone with the Fund. It was not a very pleasant conversation. I am so proud that so many of you feel strongly enough about the situation at hand to have placed calls of complaint.


Let it be known that although my situation was handled poorly by both the rental company's employee and by the Fund, they have helped a huge amount of people by renting cars. I am more than grateful that even if it was by mistake I had a car since January and the Fund picked up the tab. I could never afford a vehicle by myself. They are helping a large amount of people on post and I do not want one bad story to affect the hundreds of happy endings.

By all means be outraged at what has happened. But please, please, please throw your outrage my way and not at the Fund. I do not want to ruin the days of the other hundred soldiers on post who are able to have a vehicle.

Thank you so much for your concern and support.

-Josie Salzman

*RPL- Josie@JRSalzman.com E-mail me and I'll get you all the information you need. You truly are an angel :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

People often ask me if J.R. and I have transportation of our own here in D.C. I use to be able to smile and brag about the Fund which provides a free rental car to the families of our nations wounded vets. However starting today I no longer have a rental car and will be stranded at Walter Reed.

In January I first heard about an organization that provides a free car while in D.C. As soon as I could I stopped at the Family Assistance Center and filled out the application for the car. The application was complete with my car insurance information as well as a photo copy of my drivers license. They faxed the paperwork over to the Fund and within a week I had a rental. I was so excited to pick up the car. For the first time since I had been at Walter Reed I was going to be able to go off post. After finding the dealership and checking in I was given directions to return every twenty-eight days to renew the car. I grabbed the keys and off I went.

Every twenty-eight days I have been back at the dealership to renew my rental. Every time it was the same deal. Walk in, tell them the mileage, sign a new piece of paper, and leave. In the past couple of months I became increasingly concerned about getting the car serviced. I had been driving the vehicle since January and they had yet to even give the car an oil change. Finally last week the maintenance required light appeared and here begins the real story.

I woke up this morning and knew that the first thing to be accomplished was getting the car serviced. I took a quick shower, threw my hair up, and ran out the door. I left with only my wallet and my blackberry. I was only planning on being gone for half an hour. After parking the car I ran inside. To my surprise there was a new employee working (Danielle). I told her that I had had my car since January and it had never been serviced and the maintenance light was on. Instantly the fun began.

"Don't you know that you're suppose to come in every twenty-eight days to renew this car? How could you have had it since January?"

I knew by the tone in her voice that this was going to be a lengthy conversation. After straightening out the facts and calmly telling her that I had been in every month like clockwork she started yelling at me again.

"Did you call *****? Did she approve this car for you? Because I don't have another car to put you in and it will be at least three hours to get it serviced."

"Who is *****???? And why would I call her to get the car approved. This was approved back in January!" Confused and frustrated I pressed on only to get yelled at further.

"You're suppose to call ***** every month and get the car approved before I can let you leave with it again. There are fifty people waiting for a vehicle and you have had this since January. Don't you know that you can't have the car all the time?"

At this point I'm beyond frustrated. I have no idea who ***** is, I have been bringing in the car every twenty-eight days, and I don't understand how I am in the wrong. I also can't figure out why I would have to turn my car in because there are other people on the list. Like everything else at Walter Reed, cars are first come first serve. Once you receive whatever it is you have been waiting for, it is yours until you leave post for good. I once again ask who ***** is and why I would have to contact her. The answer surprised me.

"Everybody knows they have to call *****. I bet you're just like the other young girl who was in here the other day who was lying about talking to *****. ***** hadn't approved her car and she was trying to beat the system. You're just being irresponsible and you're lying to me."

At this point I am pissed off. I refused to wait to speak with the all important ***** and told her to get me a cab back to Walter Reed and I would be back in three hours to pick up a vehicle.

"I can't provide you with a ride back to Walter Reed."

"OK. Then give me my car back since that lease technically goes through the 20th of this month and I'll return later when this is all sorted out."

"You can't leave when the maintenance light is on."

At this point the tears are rolling down my face and try as hard as I can, I cannot stop them. I tell her I'm leaving to go clean out the trunk and that she needs to provide transportation back to the hospital. I am at the car for no more than two minutes when she appears.

"Are you really only twenty years old?"


"They shouldn't have even given you a car in the first place. You have to be twenty-one to rent a car. There is no way I'm going to be putting you back in a car."

Now I really can't stop the tears. She handed me a kleenex and told me I had to "stop crying and be strong for my husband." I lost it. How dare she take away my vehicle and then try to tell me to be strong for my husband. This woman has no idea what we have been through in the last six months. She has now called me irresponsible, a liar, and a bad wife. I blew up at her. Needless to say I was given a ride back to Walter Reed... in my rental car that they took from me.

As soon as I walked through the door I started making phone calls. I have talked with the all powerful ***** and she simply made a bunch of excuses. She was the one that received my application back in January and approved my car. She had a copy of my drivers license which very clearly states my age. Instead of saying she made a mistake she blamed the Family Assistance Center, and the rental company. She then explained that although she would love to help me that there was just no possible way for me to rent a vehicle under the age of twenty-one. When asked if J.R. would be able to receive the free rental she said no. Apparently wounded soldiers are not allowed to rent a car.

I am now in D.C. with no car. If I have to go to the grocery store, I have to get a taxi. They provide taxi vouchers, but finding a cab who will accept them is no easy task. There is only one company who will take the vouchers and they're so busy that you have to schedule a pick up days in advance. Plus once I get to the store I can't have the cab wait. I have to let them go and then call them when I am done shopping and use another voucher to get home.

The age limit is bullshit. Most of the soldiers that are here at the hospital are fresh out of high school. They are young and their wives are young. The families have given up so much already. They have lost having a normal life, they've lost body parts, and they're away from home. The very least you can do is provide a car so they may buy groceries or go see a movie. This post is a hard place to live. At least with a car one can escape the life at Walter Reed if only for a few short hours.

To put the icing on the cake, my new blackberry is broken. Same problem as the razor. Fine one moment, big white screen the next. T-mobile can provide a loaner phone, but I would have to have a car so I could drive to the mall to pick up the phone.

It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back in D.C.

I don't want to see the inside of an airport for a very long time. My flight made it back last night, but not until just after two am. By the time I picked up my bag, got in a taxi, and arrived back at Walter Reed it was three in the morning. It felt so good to crawl into bed.

Today has been a lazy day. Storms have been moving through the area and the rain has been providing a great excuse to stay in bed and watch tv. This is the first real day I've had to relax in a couple weeks. It's been wonderful. J.R. went grocery shopping this morning and he told me he was making dinner tonight. I'm not sure where that came from, but I'm not complaining. I'll let him take a turn cooking any day.

The only real work I've done today is walking over to see finance. I have yet to be paid for two months and my bank account has very little left in checking. The gentleman I talked with says I should be paid within 72 hours. Gotta love Walter Reed.

According to UPS my new phone will be here today. After going a whole weekend without being able to see my display I'm beyond ready for my new phone. I plan on running my razor over with the car multiple times. Don't worry I'll take a picture.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Travel Pains

I am living a traveling nightmare. The day started off just fine. I arrived at Minneapolis/St. Paul, got through security, and sat down at my gate. I was having a very nice conversation with a soldier who was heading to Houston. He too had been injured in Iraq so it wasn't hard to make small talk. It wasn't until four pm when I realized we still had no plane and our flight was going to be delayed. Three and a half hours later, we finally were able to leave the twin cities.

I have arrived in Chicago to sit with thousands of stranded travelers. When looking at the departure lists the word cancelled fills the screen. I'm fortunate. My flight is still on. For now. There are lines of hundreds of fliers waiting to hear their fate at the ticket counter. A few of them leave with a smile. Most leave cussing.

I'm exhausted. If I manage to get out of Chicago it will be a miracle. Unfortunately this is all weather related so they aren't even putting people in hotels. If you can find a hotel you should consider yourself blessed by God. I have this strange feeling I am going to be spending the night in the airport.

To top this all off, my cell phone is still not working and T-Mobile can't get me a new phone until Wednesday. If you know my number please call me and entertain me.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I can't resist sharing this picture with everyone. It is just one more reminder of just how long we have been away from home. This box of kleenex has been sitting on top of my toilet for months now. I thought about buying a new box but I figured at the rate things are going I may as well just leave this one up so I wont have to decorate when I get home for Christmas. Gotta love the Army.

I fly back to D.C. tomorrow. I don't get in until late. The only benefit to that is not having to deal with traffic when I leave the airport. I'm excited to return and see J.R. I've been thinking a lot about the deployment while I've been home. Being here in the apartment alone has brought back a lot of memories. So many quiet nights. The time that J.R. was gone is a big blur. Everyday was the same for me. I woke up, went to work, came home, ate dinner, slept.. repeat. Life didn't have the same meaning that it does now.

Unfortunately tonight I simply do not have the energy to sit and sort through the emotions that make up my life. For now I'm going to bury them in my glass of wine.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

New Apartment

My whole body hurts. No... I take that back. My whole UPPER body hurts. My legs, which have been getting the workout at the gym for the last month, feel great. My back and my arms are a totally different story. Guess I better start working on those too.

Tina and I spent all day Friday carrying boxes up and down the stairs. We woke early today to continue moving. At least today we had a whole crew of people here to help move. We finished the apartment switch in under three hours. Now if you knew the amount of stuff that we have crammed into our small apartment you would be shocked that we finished in such a short amount of time. My group of helpers placed all the large furniture and got everything down here (a big thanks to my landlord for getting a group together). I've spent the remainder of the night taking items out of boxes and putting them in the right spot. I'm exhausted. I am however enjoying being barefoot and being in my own space all by myself. No husband, no roommates, just me.

It feels so amazing to be in Wisconsin. I'm away from the lights and sirens. I can look out my window at night and see stars. I don't feel the constant rush of the city and for the first time in a very long time I am relaxed.

I had to laugh at J.R. today. He kept telling me to make sure the windows and door were locked. Sometimes I feel as if he forgets that I lived alone for over a year while he was in Iraq. I do enjoy hearing his concern for my safety. It's kinda cute coming from a man who likes to pretend that he doesn't care.

Tomorrow I get to do whatever I want. I have so many options and I have no idea which one I want to pick. I know for sure that I am spending my morning in bed. In MY bed. My soft, wonderful bed. I plan on laying in it until at least ten a.m. Then comes decision time. I could head up to Hayward and spend the day on the lake, go to Eau Claire to visit friends, or I could just sit in my apartment and enjoy the solitude. It's a tough call. For now it's time to enjoy being barefoot and to finish the last bit of unpacking.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Hate Mail

I am exhausted. I arrived home very late last night. I threw my bags down and ran out to check the car. Three low tires, one VERY low tire. After consulting my sister-in-law if it was safe to drive the car to the gas station, I very slowly left the driveway and crawled to the corner. After finally filling the tires I was off to Wal-Mart. I love shopping here. Everything is so cheap compared to D.C. I'm not sure if I will ever complain about grocery prices again after our short stay in the city. I piled the cart full of goodies and returned home to catch a few hours of sleep.

After only a rough six hours of sleep I woke to a phone call. J.R. evidently missed me so much he had to call at the crack of dawn.... nice. I knew I had a lot to get done today so I rolled out of bed and showered. I pulled out my computer to read the news while I ate breakfast only to discover that the wireless internet was not working. An hour later I was finally off the phone with Charter. They claim that because my services sat idle for so long they had to reboot everything. I pay them every month so that when I get a rare chance to come home I have the comforts available. I expect them to work. It shouldn't matter if they are being used regularly or not. They're getting paid regularly. So one very heated discussion and the tone was set for the rest of the day. It was time to move on to fixing the cell phone.

I turned my cell phone off last night for my flight. It's never fully recovered. I can power the phone on but all I see is a white light. There is absolutely no display. I can still make calls (if I can remember your number) and I can still receive calls (and I can't screen them so now is your chance to reach me), but I can't see a thing. The T-Mobile store was no help. Evidently they can't sell me a new phone unless I sign up for a new plan. Morons. So I spent the rest of the day trying to call T-Mobile. I finally got through and ended up purchasing a new phone. It wont be in my hands until Wednesday so until then I just have to make the broken screen work. One more headache to add to the pile.

As for the rest of the day, I spent it moving small items in my apartment downstairs with Tina. Our poor two bedroom apartment is just jammed with stuff. We worked all day and feel as if we didn't even make a dent. My legs are already sore from all of the trips up and down the steps and I still have another whole day of moving left. At least tomorrow there is a big group of people coming to help.

I received my first bit of hate mail today. "Quit playing the victims and move on with your lives... how pathetic." At first I was a little taken by the e-mail. Offended and disgusted. I've been thinking about this for most of the day. We will always be a victim of war. My husband lost body parts. He is not physically a whole person anymore. When you look at him you can see he was injured. We will never be able to hide that. Moving forward with your life after something this traumatic is not an easy task. You can't erase the memory of a bomb blasting through your window and blowing your arm off. You can however learn from the path that life is leading you down and try to become whole once again. Yes, we both have our moments where we sit down and feel as if the world has ended and we can't move forward one more day. We will continue to have those moments. So yes, I am a victim. Pathetic I am not.

I did not run away from my husband's injuries. I did not try to hide him from the world. I bathed him, feed him, turned the pages in his books when he could not. I slept next to him in the hospital for two months straight. I hugged him and reassured him that life would continue and he would be O.K. I have been there for the best moments, and I will continue to be there for the really horrible ones. I am a young wife. At twenty years old a lot has been asked of me. I do not regret what has happened. I may be angry and bitter about it at the moment, but if given the option I wouldn't change his injury and I wouldn't leave his side. If you find this pathetic then I am very interested in what your personal beliefs are.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Fourth

Last night was amazing. It was one of those nights you know you will never forget and will never be able to fully describe to someone who wasn't there. Our evening started with a slight slip up. We were placed on the wrong bus and accidentally went with the group that was watching the fireworks from the lawn of the capital building. After an hour we straightened things out. Thanks to a very nice police officer, we were able to ride up to the White House and walk through security to join our group without a hitch.

We arrived at the Southeast entrance. We were rushed through security to join our group. We were led up the driveway of the White House. There was ice cream and water off to the side. It was all wrapped in Fourth of July 2007 White House Lawn. Our group was waiting for us at the very front of the house. They had chairs lined up and everything. We were the only group allowed off the lawn. We chatted for a while, took pictures while the light was still good, and waited anxiously for the President to make an appearance. President Bush and the First Lady finally came out to a large applause and a whole lot of screaming. They waved from the balcony and even made sure to acknowledge the presence of the wounded men.

Before long, the sky grew dark and the fun began. They black canvas was alive with color as the fireworks went off. The music played in the background. All of the patriotic songs were included. I cannot explain the pride I felt to be an American at that very moment. Here we were sitting just a few feet from the White House, on the balcony above us stood the President and his family. I wish that every person in our Nation could attend an event like this. To sit on the lawn of the White House and celebrate our country... Amazing.

As the show ended the crowd turned. A very loud happy birthday rang out across the lawn. The President waved and retreated back to the party inside. Within minutes the secret service cleared the lawn. We were asked to stay while they escorted the others away from the area. Supposedly President Bush was going to come say hello.. but that never happened. After an hour or so we were also escorted back to our bus. As we left there were three loud booms. We all stopped dead in our tracks. The fireworks had been done for a while so the noise was very out of place. Our group of soldiers with PTSD stopped and instantly turned to see the last few fireworks be set off. Our moment of panic was over and we were on our way back to the hospital. Tired and hungry we walked back to our rooms still buzzing with excitement over the best Fourth of July ever.

I will say Mr. President, even if I hate your visits to Walter Reed you throw one hell of a party at your house.

Today is not nearly as exciting. As I write and relive last night, I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home. Although it's four pm here in D.C. I wont arrive into the cities until late tonight. Hopefully my flights are all on time and my bag makes the trip with me. One flight was just cancelled. Not helping my nerves. This weekend will be crazy busy. The days seem to go so much faster when I'm home in my own apartment. At least it's home though.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Fourth!

Happy fourth of July!!! Everything here at the hospital is shut down. There is no therapy and pretty much nobody is working so we can't do paperwork. I love it. I stayed in bed till 11:30 and J.R. is still sleeping... no surprise there. I'm looking forward to a very lazy day followed by fireworks at the White House. It just doesn't get any better than that. I will say I'm a little nervous about the D.C. weather. There is a significant chance of rain and thunderstorms for today and this evening. I'm going to be so mad if the fireworks get rained out. I was going to wear a pair of white shorts tonight, but I might rethink that move just because of the rain. It probably wouldn't be very appropriate to have on wet white shorts at the White House.

Tomorrow I fly home! I am so excited to be home for just a few days. The first thing I'm doing when I return home is finding something to wash in my own washing machine. Even if it's already clean. It's getting washed. After that I'm cracking open a bottle of wine to celebrate not having to wait in line at the washing machine. That will be a very lovely moment.

Speaking of home, we have started to pack up a lot of our stuff here in hopes that we can return home for good very soon. All of our paperwork has been submitted. Now all we can do is cross our fingers and pray that we don't have to appeal any of the final answers. I know J.R. is ready to be home. Yesterday he kept telling me just how homesick he was. I can't say I blame him. He has been away from the apartment for almost two years now. It's time to go back.

For now it's time to take a shower and get ready for the day. I need to run and pick up my flight itinerary from hero miles. After that I can come back here and relax. I'm sure there is a BBQ happening on post right now so maybe I'll go eat. All that's left to do after that is pack for home and watch the fireworks. Not a bad day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President-

I would like to thank you for your visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center today. Here at Walter Reed we all understand that you have a very busy schedule and we really appreciate you taking the time to visit the wounded soldiers. However, there are a few problems with your visits that I would like to clear up.

Since October of 2005 my family has been serving you dutifully. My husband went to war and the rest of the family waited at home. We sent packages, rejoiced over phone calls, and endured many sleepless nights filled with worry. And we did this all for you and the war on terrorism. On December 19, 2006 my husband sacrificed an arm, a finger, and the use of his left hand for his country.

Since December 24, 2006 we have been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Our daily life now consists of learning how to live again. How to tie shoes, use silverware, write, shower, and be happy with a new self image. We spend hours in therapy. But when you visit the hospital, everything shuts down. We cannot walk to areas where we may have appointments, we can't look out windows, and we can barely leave our rooms. Our lives are put on hold for you. Why? Our lives have been changed forever by decisions that you have made. This is your opportunity to see what this war has done to our American families. We have given enough to you. Stop messing with our lives and just let us live. Let us move on.

I understand that everyday your life is at risk. But here at Walter Reed you are more likely to be shot by the guards at the front gate than by the soldiers that lost limbs for you. Be respectful to us and don't cut into our therapy.

-Josie Salzman

Monday, July 2, 2007

Anything You Can Buy I Can Buy Better

I just thought I should take a moment to let everyone know that I have purchased my own towel. They didn't have any pink towels so I had to settle for a pastel blue. It's bigger, softer, and prettier than his. I wont have to touch the sacred towel anymore... except when my towel is dirty. :)

J.R.'s Birthday!

Today is J.R.'s birthday! He turns 28 today. I'm so glad he is home for his birthday this year and didn't have to celebrate for a second time in Iraq. He purchased his own birthday gift out of my bank account the other day. He bought books. I'm feeling a little guilty that I didn't pick out a present for him. But on top of all the paperwork and trying to find time to sneak off and buy something without him around... it was never going to happen. At least this way he has what he wanted.

This week is crazy busy again. Tonight we are having dinner with one of J.R.'s friends from back home. His family is in the area on vacation and we were able to find some time to escape from Walter Reed. On the fourth we are watching the fireworks from the White House lawn. I'm so excited. They're even providing transportation to get us all down there so I wont have to drive in the traffic. Thursday I fly home to move apartments. The landlord has a whole group of people coming to help move. I will be surprised if it takes more than three hours to move. On top of moving us, they also took care of calling Excel Energy and getting our electricity swapped over. They're awesome.

For now it's time to keep moving. I need to finish this last load of laundry and then head to the gym. I'm only going to get about thirty minutes in at the gym today so I have to make the most of it. I still have to get to the post office and mail these boxes out. Gotta love it.