Thoughts along the way….

I recall a training in Great Lakes, IL.  It was about how Chief’s needed to practice intrusive leadership.  Getting to know our people and getting into their “business”.  It was a time when too many people were getting into trouble for things that could be prevented, if the Chief knew what was going on.  This was against my past experience. because I felt professionally, everything was my business, but personally, I gave people the space to share if they wanted.  Well, as leaders, we realize that what happens in all aspects of life bleed into the others.  It is time for us have intrusive leadership conversations.

We are entering the time of year that is hardest for many people.  Depression and hopelessness are high during the holidays.  This year, we need to stand united to  say “not one more”.  Not one more veteran will commit suicide.  Not one more will feel alone.  Not one more will suffer the unintended consequences of service.  Not one more will be a victim. Not one more will be a perpetrator. Not one more….

Neutral Zone is an intentional community where veterans are invited to experience Camaraderie, Courage and Compassion. There is always HOPE!  We need to be intrusive, find out what our shipmates, soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen are thinking – past, present and future.  We need to bring them to a safe space, where they can process the unimaginable and find a safety net to prevent self-harm and harm of others.  Let’s make a commitment, this holiday season and every day, to be intrusive finding the courage to join the conversation.

Join us at the next Neutral Zone event: Gathering, Bible Study, or Faith Night.  Follow us on Facebook to find an upcoming event, let us know what you need, when / how you want to build a community, and together we can begin to build a safety net of HOPE!

 

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I had a heart felt conversation with a few veterans the other day.  I was sharing about NeutralZone and I was reminded how “lost” veterans can feel when they leave the military, especially after retirement.  For years, decades even, people have lived a fairly predictable life.  Yes, they PCS regularly, but they knew their job, their responsibilities, and were accountable to those duties.  I remember retiring and standing in the closet trying to figure out what I should wear.  This manifests itself in fellow veterans in different ways.  I would invite you to NeutralZone to be a part of a community of people who understand what you are going through.  It is hard to imagine what you don’t know when you haven’t experienced it yet.

 

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Working on flyers for NeutralZone and I thought about the song “Lean on Me”:

“Sometimes in our lives we will all have pain, we all have sorrow.  But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.  Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend and help you carry on.  For it won’t be long till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on”                                  -Bill Withers

The military relationships are like this.  Trained to rely on each other, build life long friendships, and live life together.  These are authentic relationships where regardless of time or distance, the bond remains strong.

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Feeling alone is a symptom of a bigger problem – many military service members, veterans, police and first responders live lives witnessing the unimaginable.  The unintended consequence of war and civil service can take it’s toll.  Moral injury is a normal response to seeing a broken world.  There is HOPE!  You can find peace in your story without self-medication, harming yourself or others, or feeling isolated.  Camaraderie, Courage and Compassion is the remedy – spend time with other veterans hearing a word of hope, a transition time for reflection, and table talk.  Where you can process the reality of your experience.  Join Neutral Zone Gathering the last Thursday of the month. 

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I had a conversation with someone who shared “God left me in Vietnam…  God didn’t want to be a part of my life when I returned to the States”.  Another person shared, “it took me years to feel “normal” again after war”.

Unfortunately, these stories are more common than most people realize.  Many veterans have feelings of not fitting in or experience abandonment by the families, friends or the divine.  They may feel alone; like something was wrong with them, but, moral injury has been a part of life since the beginning of humanity.  During conflict, war and emergency situations it’s hard for the mind to process the acts of violence and pain that people witness.  NeutralZone is an intentional community where veterans can share their experiences with other veterans, hear other experiences, and begin to process how you can live after living through the unimaginable.  It’s a space for being authentic and accepted, connecting with others, yourself, and the divine.

Many people don’t understand moral injury or the unintended consequences of war.  Self-medication, harming self or others, feeling isolated and alone are all symptoms of the situation and does not define the person.  Healing and recovering is not a one size fit all solution.  Healing is about offering camaraderie, courage and compassion to yourself and others.  Join us to experience HOPE and begin the journey of reimagining the experience and healing from invisible wounds of war.