Friday, April 29, 2011

A Bittersweet Day

As Lloyd has gone through his med board, his chain of command has come and gone, and the guys who were in his unit have as well. Few are there for an extended period of time. Burnett (aka Amish) was an exception. He and Lloyd spent a lot of time together in Bravo. For all the teasing that guys do, Lloyd appreciated having Amish there with him because of a shared disdain for a lot of the stupid that goes on with a bunch of young guys cooped up together and a strong desire to get home to their family. Yesterday, Burnett got transferred to Charlie bringing him one step closer to his goal of going home to his wife and kiddo. His presence in Bravo will be missed. We are really happy for Burnett though. He's a good guy who has gone through a lot of struggle, and this is a huge victory for him. We're praying for things to continue quickly for him, so he can get home to his family soon.

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting - a funny movie, but not so much fun in real life

It would be really nice to be have lots of news to post today. There just is not going to be a lot happening this week. While in the civilian world, there's always lots of news, the Army still gets information out and to people as if Pony Express was the fastest way to communicate.

We are working on making the arrangements for next month's road trip to Oklahoma. The unfortunate reality is that we have done this enough times that it's not too difficult. This has been added to the list of things that we never wanted to be good at doing but can now accomplish without much effort.

The only other news really is that (not surprisingly) the Blue Falcons are flying at Fort Suck Sill. Again. (Still?) Spring fever is apparently causing a few more issues than normal, and Lloyd has been doing his best to keep anyone from doing anything stupid enough to result in more collective punishment...especially since they have finally gotten back some (but not all) of their privileges after more than a year. It's been adding just a sprinkle more stress to life - and not the fun rainbow or chocolate colored kind that goes on ice cream.

Next week is when Lloyd's appointments are scheduled, so until then, we wait. (That would be another thing for the list of things that I wish I wasn't so good at doing.)

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

*insert witty title here*

Last weekend, Lloyd was able to get a 30 hour pass, so we were able to spend Easter and some much needed time together. We decided to get a change of scenery from Lawton and headed to OKC. We spent Saturday afternoon wandering in Bricktown and having fun along the canal walkway, enjoying burgers at a little jazz place, dreaming of the future at Bass Pro Shop (not that our dream is to work at Bass Pro's fun to check out ATVs, boats, camping equipment, and firearms), and had dinner at Toby Keith's. Sunday morning we were able to go to a wonderful Easter service together and then have a really nice breakfast put together by the youth there. As is always the case though, the time was far too short, and it was hard for both of us when he had to go back to the barracks.

Last Thursday, we got news that has increased the urgency that we feel about our need to go to Arizona. The LES is still not unlocked for Lloyd to be able to request leave, but he has received word that it will be finally be open again on May 1. It takes a month for the leave approval process, so we are planning accordingly. Lloyd is very worried that they will deny his leave (they always do) and that this time he will not be able to get anyone in the chain of command to overturn that denial, and it is creating a LOT of additional stress for both of us. We will continue to pray and ask that all our prayin' peeps send them on up for us as well.

Finally, we got the official word yesterday afternoon from Uncle Sam about some class/paperwork stuff that we both need to do next month. It is a week long process that can only be done at Ft. Sill. This is going to mean another road trip to Oklahoma in a couple of weeks - only without it being any fun or time together. Lloyd will not be able to get off post during the time, so we will only be able to talk for a short time at lunch each day. (No privacy either since the rules require that he have a battle buddy with him at all times. So much for a real conversation.) Basically, it will be worse than it is now....knowing how close we are geographically but not having any more chance to spend time together than we do right now and still only being able to talk on the phone for a short time in the evenings.

As we are seeing progress at reaching the end of this time of trial, it seems like it is getting more and more challenging, and it is really taking its toll. We continue to thank God for all of the support that we have from the people He has put in our life.

God Bless!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Appointments are set!

Lloyd went to the Med Board office today to see if he could get some progress from them. His phase 1, phase 2, and dictation appointments are set for the first week in May. Now we're cooking with gas!

God Bless!

Run til you puke - then sprint

Distance runners are a little, um, different. They take pride in toughing through discomfort in a race and running until they are bleeding, have broken bones, or are leaning against a tree heaving their guts out. Outsiders often ask why someone would do something so absolutely insane. The response generally leaves that person even more confused than before they's hard to put a visceral compulsion into words. A better question to ask is how someone can do something like that.

The answer to "how?" is a whole lot easier: encouragement and support. A running buddy to keep you company and keep you steady in your pace. People along the course who give a "woo hoo! way to go! keep it up" and clap as you pass. The crowd lining the course along the home stretch when the finish line is in sight...cheering, ringing bells, and making enough noise that it completely drowns out any nagging voice of self doubt that might be trying to tell you that you can't make it. All of that puts fuel into your tank and helps you to carry on even if you're really on empty.

If you're reading this, you are a part of the encouragement and support for us right now, and we appreciate it more than we have words to describe. Your praying for us and cheering us on keeps us going on those days where it feels like we're running on empty. You might not think that your comment or email is that big of a deal, but there are a lot of days where it makes all the difference for us.

God Bless!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finally Off the Merry-Go-Round?

When you wake up every morning and say, "today's the day!" and face the day with a persistent determination to do everything in your power to make it happen.....eventually, you're right.

Lloyd was finally able to get in contact with Miss Maria today. She was able to confirm the news that we had been hoping to hear this week. All of the forms and paperwork needed for Lloyd's packet are ready, and Miss Gibbs should be calling him tomorrow to set the appointments for his dictation and physicals. It has been really exciting to be having relatively steady progress for the last six weeks or so. While there is still more to go, we are at least seeing movement in the right direction.

Every case has its own intricacies, so we are not 100% sure of all the details on what is to come for the rest of the process. The basic framework though is that Lloyd will finish his appointments, and all of the stuff will be put into this packet of information for his transfer to Charlie. Once Lloyd signs off on it all, he will be eligible for the transfer. (Having the paperwork say it is ok to transfer and actually getting transfered are two different things. Lloyd has said that some of the guys have had random delays that have no explanation beyond "because it's the Army") Lloyd is hoping that since Drill Sergeant Seville has taken notice of how long he has been there, she will get him over to Charlie ASAP. She's known for being someone to get things done which we could really use right now. Once Lloyd gets to Charlie, they will work through finalizing his official Med Board packet before submitting it to the review board down in San Antonio. At that point, about all that we'll have left is for the fat lady to do her thang. (Ok, that whole paragraph is confusing. Some people want more details though...basically, a ton of paperwork needs to be pulled together so some doctors in San Antonio can determine just how banged up Lloyd is. He's got at least one person who he considers an ally to keep the process moving, and it is looking like we've got the finish line in sight right on the edge of the horizon.)

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ecclesiastes 1:9

We had been hoping that tonight we would be able to update that the Good Witch Glenda had whisked Lloyd to the realm of Princess Rainbow Sparkle Unicorn Pony, and everything was moving along on schedule, so in the not so distant future he would be able to click the heels of his combat boots together, and saying "there's no place like home," wake up to the smell of bacon and waffles in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it seems that Glenda has been very occupied with Dorothy and her little dog too.

Lloyd was supposed to meet with Miss Maria today, so his appointments could be scheduled. She stood him up. Again. This is a bit of a habit for her. (She was doing much better for awhile after the butt chewing she got, but apparently, the memory of it has faded.) He will try a Robin Hood style ambush on her tomorrow by staking out her office, and if necessary, make a phone call to get her butt chewed again.

The other angle that Lloyd was working was for his leave request. Last Thursday and Friday he was working on getting together all of the forms for the packet, so he could submit the request. One of the required pieces of paper is a printout from the system that shows how much leave he has accumulated. Fun little factoid: when the government was in danger of shutting down last week, they locked people out of the system that shows how much leave they have accumulated. They still have not unlocked it. Until they do, Lloyd is unable to finish and submit his leave request. He will be continuing to try every day....we just have no idea how long it will be before they get around to unlocking it.

While it may seem otherwise, today was a pretty normal day for us. We figure out a plan for how to attack the obstacles in front of us and wake up every morning with Mel Fischer's words in mind. "Today's the day!"

God Bless!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Approaching Shutdown

Tomorrow, Lloyd will be going to the battery commander to see what sort of answers he can get about what will be happening to him and the rest of his unit if the government shuts down tomorrow night. Right now, there are a lot of questions and not many answers. There are a lot of possible scenarios, and we know that we will be able to handle any of them with God's help. That doesn't mean that the uncertainty of it all is any easier though. Not being able to plan beyond tomorrow is a pretty scary thing.

For our prayin' peeps, we're asking for us : peace and comfort through this trial, a restful night's sleep to prepare for tomorrow, and for Lloyd to be given the words to ask the right questions and be given truth as answers. Sending a few extra up for our elected officials that they may have discernment and wisdom through this time couldn't hurt either.

God willing, there will be an update on the situation tomorrow sometime.

God bless!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Leave, Miss Maria, and a Government Shutdown

Normally, there will not be this many posts in a day. This is just to make up for all of the days when there won't be any.

We have been working for the last couple of weeks to make arrangements for Lloyd to take a week of leave, so we can visit family in Arizona. This trip is very important to us, and we have wanted to make the trek there for over a year now. Hopefully, it will all work according to plan. Lloyd has been working for almost two weeks now to get his hands on the packet of paperwork that he needs to submit to request leave, and he should finally be receiving it tomorrow. (Thank you for your efficiency Uncle Sam.) He expects that getting all of the forms filled out by everyone who needs to do so should take a couple of days, and he is hoping to have everything ready to submit come Monday morning. He needs to submit the request a month in advance, and we are going to need lots of prayers to get it approved. Every other time that he has requested leave, he has had it denied at least once and needed to resubmit repeatedly up the chain of command to get his time off. We are praying that this time goes more smoothly. In any case, we expect it to take about three weeks or so until we know how this is going to go. We would love any extra requests that could be sent to the Big Guy on our behalf.

Lloyd is scheduled to meet with his med board case manager Miss Maria on Tuesday. (Hopefully she shows for this one.) If she has done her job (fingers crossed), we are hoping that it will be possible to schedule his Phase 1 and Phase 2 physicals as well as his appointment for Dictation. For the last five weeks we have not had any significant delays to the med board process, so we're going to be praying that the trend continues.

Finally, the latest Continuing Resolution for the budget that was passed by Congress expires on Friday, and it seems that the federal government is playing a game of chicken. We are not entirely sure what a shutdown would mean for the military in general and Lloyd specifically. Even if a provision is passed ensuring that the military continues to receive pay, there is no way of knowing exactly how that will play out and who will be paid. Even if all soldiers are paid, some of the people who are critical for his med board process are civilians. There is a lot that we don't know right now, and it is unsettling. We are not, however, fearful. We both know that God is the one who provides for us. Even as we go through our trials, He continues to richly bless us every day of our lives.

God Bless

A little of the back story on Uncle Sam

Lloyd entered the US Army in 2009. He was injured during basic training, and the Army did surgery that was supposed to complete his healing process and allow him to continue his military career. Unfortunately, the surgery resulted in complications that have prevented that from happening, and in February 2010, the Army began the medical separation/retirement process (med board).

The med board process can be complex under the best of conditions because involves a lot of different players who all need to do their piece in the right order and at the right times. Lloyd's case has the additional complication that he is in Basic Combat Training status, so his rights and privileges are restricted beyond what would be the case normally (and WAY more than for civilians). Over the course of the past year, we have found that the best of conditions rarely exist, and in the real world not everyone feels as motivated to accomplish a task as we would like to see happen. Recently, a few of those less motivated individuals found themselves on the hot seat, and significant progress has been made. Hopefully this will continue since it impacts Lloyd's discharge conditions as well as the time frame for his return home.

From where we stand today, all indications are that while the road ahead of us in this process may be rocky and difficult, it should be shorter than the one behind us.

God Bless!

We love you guys!

We are incredibly grateful to be blessed with family and friends who keep us in their thoughts and prayers, and who want to be involved in our lives. All of you give us the strength to handle the obstacles that we face. We love that so many people want to hear what is happening for us and who are so awesome about encouraging us.

Over the last year or so, it has become very apparent that it is hard to keep everyone updated who wants to be updated on what has been happening for us. Facebook, email, text, phone calls....they're all wonderful but suffer from the same problem. It's hard to keep track of who has been updated with the latest news - especially at times when there are lots of updates close together. Welcome to our solution to this obstacle!

While it may take a bit of time to work out all of the bugs in the system, we are going to work to make regular updates on life. For a while, we will obviously have some posts about our fun with Uncle Sam and the U.S. Army as well as other stuff happening in regular life. Hopefully, Uncle Sam will be drifting into the background, and regular life is going to be able to take point in the near future.

God Bless!