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Nanowrimo Gal Won’t You Come Out Tonight?

Nanowrimo Gal Won’t You Come Out Tonight?

It’s the official start of National Novel Writing Month – that time of year when I normally heave a big sigh of longing and regret that I cannot participate – but not THIS year. Oh no, I am taking action this year. And it’s about time, says my writing muse.

Beware the Jabberwock, my friend…

…and the Should, the Need and all those other nasty guilt-tripping things that lurk in every corner of a writer’s conscience.  My head was full of random thoughts all week, up until this morning – all the self-inflicted garbage I tend to pile on myself. It is procrastination, pure and simple, or maybe a little fear that I might actually produce something worthwhile and have to deal with that. Yes, fear of success can be as debilitating as fear of failure. No wonder my neck muscles are all tight and I want to curl up and hibernate it all away.  But not now! Nanowrimo ahoy!

I got the music in me…

Listening to the radio on my way to and from the gym, I was reminded of how much music inspired me on the first book I wrote. It suggested, enhanced, or even inspired specific situations or attitudes for the characters.  Visceral pangs (aka gut-wrenching) of longing or loss, of all-encompassing desire/need; exhilaration that made my chest feel about to burst; affection that permeated every cell of my body – all those things and more were a gift from the songs or instrumentals I’ve heard at serendipitous moments.  Thank you, all ye bards and minstrels, for each of those moments.

Crank it up…

I also realized I had not listened to that part of my muse nearly as much with the last two books and that the emotional quality of the writing suffered for it.

Still working on Book Three, after having to take a prolonged hiatus, I have time to correct that shocking oversight. There is time to flesh out those intimate conversations and interludes, to paint a scene of inner turmoil with greater intensity and insight, to highlight the love and cast shadows on the anxieties. But I will need music’s help for this.

The stories in song are universal, like all emotion, and timeless. I will listen – really listen, to lyrics and mood from a diverse sampling of eras. I will find the common thread woven into each piece and follow it into my own heart.  Then will I be able to write what is needed most.

With a Little Help from My Friends… biker rose detail

The 1960’s and 70’s are my formative era, so I will be listening to a lot of ballads from them.  Right now I’m digging the Moody Blues.  Their songs are especially pertinent to my protagonists, for various reasons. It’s almost as if they are in these characters’ souls. Step into a time warp…that’s where I’ll be all Nanowrimo!


Behind the Bang, Boom, Pop and Sizzle

It’s Independence Day in the U.S.A. For 238 years we have struggled, staggered, stumbled and striven to be the epitome of what it means to be free and self-determining. People of every nationality come to our shores chasing those same dreams. They know what it means to not have those things. But do we really understand what it means to possess them?

Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers, was also one of the greatest thinkers of all time. His foresight was astounding. He warned us that “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” He also admonished us not to let government become our primary caretaker: “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Whoa. Wait a minute. Sorry, Tom. We’ve already arrived at that point and gone way past it. You must be rotating in your grave.

Maybe not. He also said this, and it sounds like something ripped from today’s news:
“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…” Déjà vu! Bet he never figured on Uncle Sam being trillions in the hole. “Trillion” probably never even entered his vocabulary.

And yet more wisdom: “…a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” Indeed. So what happened here?

How is it that we have strayed so far from the path? It was set down in very clear terms. The Founders went to great lengths to write out extensive explanations for every item in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Why have we forgotten those explanations even exist?

As you wolf down your BBQ, watermelon and sweet tea, or whatever food your “4th of July” picnic consists of, chew on Jefferson’s words of warning and wisdom. When you gape and gasp at the fireworks display this evening, imagine the battles waged and won with bloody hands so that you can do precisely all those things with little thought for your personal safety and freedom.

Above all, have respect for those who died fighting to give birth to this country, its ideals, and to provide for its continuance as a beacon of hope and dignity for all people. And please do not forget to bestow honor upon those who still defend America with their lives.

Renewal and Reflection

Container gardening - my veggies.

Modest beginnings: green beans (foreground) and zucchini (background).

It’s the first day, officially, of summer – and boy has it made its presence known. Near-blistering heat tempered with a lot of breezes. I melt above 78 degrees F, but I need some sun on my skin. Mind you, I’m not a beach bunny, nor am I attempting to work up to a world-class tan. I want the healthy part of that equation: the Vitamin D stuff for my bones, the gentle transition of my skin tone from pale to faintly golden that comes from being outdoors doing something, and the enormous stress relief that comes from focusing on doing something essential and truly meaningful. The bad stuff that is part and parcel of contrived social existence takes a back seat when you concentrate on the heart of Life itself.

A lifetime ago, my parents used to put in a small backyard garden for us kids to raise veggies in. I never thought of it as work. All the hours spent weeding and nurturing the plot reinforced my inherent relationship with the physical world. The earth crumbled between my pudgy toes and fingers. I marveled as green life sprouted from hard featureless seeds buried a week or more before in the barren soil. Pulling carrots and radishes free of the earth, picking green beans and ears of corn – everything I had grown and harvested gave me a sense of accomplishment quite unlike any other chore I did inside.

By the time I was in junior high and high school, I no longer had space in my schedule for gardening. Then I was off to college, which experience was shortly followed by marriage. I had one small garden for one season, a few years into my marriage. The missing of working outside in the soil caught up with me, and I was determined to grow food of some kind. I planted broccoli, tomatoes and green beans. It was not as much fun as when I was a child. I was more aware of the time involvement, the relentless battle with the elements, insects and other small critters. It would be a long time before I went to that much trouble again.

Twenty years later, I put in flower beds around the home we eventually built. They were a joy to design and fill with various annuals and perennials, but they soon became “work.” As I aged, my body was less willing to bend over for hours, weeding, so I turned to spraying chemical poisons. This ate at my soul, so I gradually did away with those things and returned to old-fashioned physical removal. It was a good plan until my sciatic nerve developed some issues, cutting my gardening time down to almost nil. The weeds and insects seamlessly filled in the vacant moments, overpowering and conquering everything I had labored to create.

This year I’m much stronger, but still have little spare time. Despite that, I’m attacking the flower beds, reclaiming my turf bit by bit. I’m also trying out some container gardening with a few veggies: one pot each of zucchini, green beans, and carrots (the little kind). Although I planted late, the seeds have sprouted and are growing larger and stronger every day. I can move the pots around with the sun, shield them from too much wind and rain, and defend more readily against pests. It’s a good feeling. Like the seeds in the pots, part of me has been regenerated. There is a subtle feeling of completeness to life again. I have returned to my own roots, drawing life-energy at the touch of soil, sun, water, and growth.

Today, after limbering up with a number of standard-end-of-week inside chores to ease my conscience, I eased out the patio door into the backyard. It wasn’t the blast furnace we’d been experiencing over the past week, thank God. With the intermittent breeze, it was more a natural warmth settling around me. I surveyed my little outdoor kingdom and saw there was much to be done. After an hour or so, I pulled enough weeds to make my fingers ache, revealing the red river stones lining each flower bed. I freed the Black-Eyed Susans and Hostas from the smothering encroach of clover and assorted grassy weeds, making room to finally put out the little metal airplane garden stakes I bought last fall.

Metal airplane garden stakes.

Flight of Three whimsical garden stakes where weeds once reigned.

I do have one flower bed that remains untouched, however. It is the one right below the nest of baby robins that rests in the crook of the downspout from the rain gutter. Major reconstruction on that bed can wait until the babies have left the nest. I’m too busy watching them grow, and sharing in their wonder at the world into which they have been born.

Precious Memories are Treasures in My Head

Memorial Day 2014

I wanted to post today because Memorial Day (or Decoration Day if you’re from several generations previous) is a significant day of pause in the calendar year. It has nothing to do with company picnics, or sales at the mall, or parades, or obligatory speeches/appearances by our public officials.

Memorial Day is for remembering. I remember family and friends who are no longer with us. I remember the times in my life, young or otherwise, that were spent with these people. They are part of the treasure hoarded in my brain. It saddens me that they are no longer a part of my physical world, that I cannot touch them or speak with them. I certainly do not wish that they had hung on through debilitating pain or disease just to have them near. Their personal rest was a necessary thing that I respect and have come to accept.

Acceptance of loss is rarely easy. It requires time and thought – lots of thought. As long as I have my memories, these people are with me and always in a positive vein. That is how love never dies. The memories of direct experience are precious indeed.

Valley Brown's family portrait (date unknown).

Valley Brown’s family portrait (date unknown).

Other memories are acquired secondhand. My mother passed along a parcel of old photos recently. Like many elders, she is organizing and tidying as she knowingly approaches the end of her time on this planet. Inside the packet were two unexpected prizes: photos of my pseudonymous namesake: Valley Temperance Baker Brown. She died when I was but an infant, so I have no memories of her, unfortunately, but I have always been smitten with her name. In the family portrait photo, she is the woman on the left. The resemblance between us, at the same ages, is nothing short of uncanny. That is a two-sided issue. The other photo is of her and my Great-Aunt Irene, in 1948, when Valley was growing quite old. I teased my spouse that I have now seen what I will look like as an old lady, but that is not carved in stone. I am doing my best to be a much healthier person than most of my forebears, so I am hopeful that I will be in better shape when I reach that age.

Irene and Valley, Memorial Day, 1948.

Irene and Valley, Memorial Day, 1948.

I miss those who are no longer with me. My eyes automatically tear up when I start pulling those remembrances to the front of my consciousness. These are special people. Some served in times of war or conflict. Some raised families and worked ordinary jobs their entire lives.

Each of them touched my life in some way. I am grateful for them and I will remember them, always.

When Stress Has You Shutting Out and Shutting Down

Courtesy of Morguefile, pippalou

Courtesy of Morguefile, pippalou

Shutting Out and Shutting Down

How many times have you been down in the dumps and told those closest to you that you wanted to be alone? Are you protecting those around you from your pain? Are you afraid they won’t understand and choose to write you off? Sure, everyone needs a little time and space to grieve over a loss of whatever sort, but probably not as much as what you think you need.

Why do we push people away when we need them most? This is another symptom of stress. Those with PTSD or related disorders seem to feel a need to hold loved ones at arm’s length when they actually need a bit of judicious interaction.

Distressing memories or thoughts can be triggered by the smallest of things, especially scents. What is remembered can overwhelm a person and sharing that remembrance is perceived as a great deal of emotional risk to themselves and others. Anger, fear, frustration – all those strong emotions come into play. A distressed person may appear unduly or uncharacteristically angry over “nothing.” They may lash out verbally and radiate negativity, all of which is directed at protecting themselves and those they care about from their distress.

This distress is quite tangible to the person experiencing it. The source of the distress becomes resurrected, fresh, powerful, and painful. Handling its resurgence can be a chore of monumental proportions. Dealing with someone else in the throes of it can be every bit as daunting.

There may be times when the stressed-out person needs to be physically close to a loved one and craves the comfort that proximity allows. At other times, the same person may throw up angry barricades, trying to deliberately force that loved one to retreat. Realizing that this behavior is temporary and misdirecting can be perplexing to the extreme, especially if the behavior happens often.

So, what is right way to approach this scenario? The answer depends on a lot of situational variables and on the people involved. One thing remains constant, however, and that is love. Love enables people to hang onto their hope and faith in each other, gives that crucial little boost to their waning courage. Love won’t give up. It may take a beating now and again – perhaps even to the point of instinctive self-preservation, but it won’t give up.

In my first book, “Speeding Tickets,” Doug (the hero) doesn’t give up on Christine (the heroine) when she’s drawing away from him, sinking inside herself with apprehension. He makes her promise not to shut him out of her life when she’s filled with uncertainty: As long as they can talk to each other and turn to each other, they can figure out how to make it through anything life throws at them. Doug knows this because he’s been through hell and back. He’s aware that Christine, too, has suffered greatly along life’s path. They are both among the walking wounded, and while Doug sees that Chris is not handling life much better than he is, if they don’t give up on each other, if they work together, maybe they’ll both do more than merely survive — and they’ll keep each other from shutting down.

Shoe Miracles, Hubris and Life


My hair is like my life – it does its own thing no matter how badly I wish I could control it.  I am allowed small moments of victory which quickly evaporate, warning me that I am on the verge of hubris.

Hubris is a great concept.  Its bedfellows are Humility and Reality.  I’m sure it has other partners, but these are the ones I am most familiar with.  Hubris takes an insane amount of pleasure in giving me enough rope to hang myself, so to speak, whenever I tackle the next rung on the ladder of Life.  (So many metaphors, so little time.)  It also likes to rub in my face that I am physically on the downhill side of retirement age, not the 30-something I feel like inside my head.  Life is bitchy that way.  As my editor says, ad infinitum, “Suck it up.”

All of this has to do with my attending a large conference this summer.  This conference has a dress code – business attire,  and an honest-to-God formal event.  My spouse will not accompany me to this particular conference for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is for something in which he has no personal interest (other than that it affects me greatly), and that he would be virtually on his own from dawn to dusk.  He has better things to do with the precious little free time he has.  Be that as it may, he also abhors formal events, so my wardrobe has managed to divest itself of formal accoutrements.  I needed to acquire appropriate clothing.

Since I’m not particularly a clothes horse by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, it was painful to make myself shop for duds I will wear perhaps once every 2-3 years.  However, I was blessed with a fantastic upscale consignment shop new to my neighborhood, and found nearly every article of clothing on my list there, sans underwear and footwear, and at a livable price.

I went with a basic black gown for the formal event, knowing I had a number of accessorizing options with that one.  The gown fits well, other than being much too long.  Before I could have it hemmed, though, I would need to have the shoes for it, and that shopping experience was not something I anticipated with joy.  You see, I live in athletic shoes – specifically cross-trainers and walkers.  Most of my day is spent walking around on hard floors or traversing stairs, all of which is murder on my aging joints.  Then I have the issue of my right foot.  This poor foot has been through a lot.  It was severely sprained during a motorcycle wreck, and has had two toes broken over the course of the years.  One of said toes has developed a touch of arthritis and is doing its best to become a hammer toe.  The sprain likes to re-manifest off and on.

This situation does not bode well for fancy shoes.  Fancy shoes don’t care about foot health and comfort.  They are all about their looks, like the stuck-up “popular” girl in high school who knows she is gorgeous and that every girl in school wants to look just like her.  Fancy shoes are superficiality embodied in manmade materials and tortuous form, not function.

Having dragged myself to Macy’s at the local mall because a friend informed me their dress shoes were on sale, I spent over ten minutes studying glitzy shoes.  I needed to sparkle a bit for this formal event.  God knows the rest of the people there surely would be.  With a classic black velvet gown, I wanted footwear that was both elegant and distinctive, but not all-out bling.

There seemed but two options for me:  flats or low heels.  I cannot wear spike heels, those six-inch stiletto jobs that make prima ballerinas cringe in horror.  Can’t do ‘em.  Not now, not ever.  I found no flats attractive enough to even consider.  A pair of strappy sandals with a 3-inch heel seemed my best bet.  They came in sparkly silver or sparkly gold.  Fine.  The sales lady went to retrieve pairs in my size for a try-on.   But while I waited, my eyes kept going back toward a pair of 4-inch-heel pumps centered in one of the displays.

This was a Cinderella shoe, gossamer black with lightly understated silvery dots swirling in patterns over the foot – and they were at least 4-inch heels.  My head chided me for even thinking about them, even though they would be the ultimate look with my gown.  My toes cramped up from my looking at these shoes.  Nope.  Not going there.

The strappy sandals arrived.  I took my time walking back and forth on the carpeting, eyeing them in the mirror.  They were lovely and quite sparkly, and would certainly be fine, but they weren’t perfect.  After a few minutes they also nearly gave one of my toes a blister.  I plopped back into a chair and looked longingly at the pumps.  The sales lady waited patiently for my verdict.

“I know they’ll probably kill my feet, but I’d really like to try those on,” I confessed, sheepish.

She giggled and brought a pair of the pumps out to me.

What happened next was a miracle.  The shoes fit.  Well.  They didn’t hurt my toes after a couple of minutes.  They made my feet look fabulous, lack of nail polish notwithstanding.  I knew full well that this illusion of comfort would not persist after walking in them for an hour or more, but WTH.  They were on sale.  I bought them.

Back home, I threw on the dress and the shoes.  The dress was still too long.  It would need about 3” taken off, but when I raised the hemline and saw the shoes with the dress, I could have cried.  I auditioned some of my accessories and there was almost no look that I would not be completely at ease with.  Cinderella is alive and well, but  she’s not in Orlando, guys, and while she may be gray around the edges, she’s headed for conference in style

Social Implications for Fiction Writers

It’s not often that the Introduction in a book makes a great impression on me – especially one I had no particular expectations of.  Most of the time, Introductions are bland or are filled with acknowledgments.  Either way, they are rarely noteworthy.

While waiting for my computer to download an update, I picked up a copy of “Becoming a Writer” by Dorothea Brande, 1934 edition.  A friend had given it to me several months earlier, and I had added it to the growing pile of books I wanted to eventually read.  It was convenient to grab that particular book, so I did and began reading its Introduction.

“Fiction supplies the only philosophy that many readers know; it establishes their ethical, social and material standards; it confirms them in their prejudices or opens their minds to a wider world.”  That was an amazing sentence, considering my husband and I had discussed this very topic only the night before. He had been reading an historical article that was compelling in its wealth of information, but weighted with one-sided editorializing to the point of creating misinformation.   Basic historical facts were used to cloak an unsubstantiated personal theory — about social biases, with credibility.  The fictional aspect of the personal theory became a tool to reinforce old prejudices.

Ms. Brande continued to amaze me:

“The influence of any widely read book can hardly be over-estimated.  If it is sensational, shoddy or vulgar our lives are the poorer for the cheap ideals which it sets in circulation;  if, as so rarely happens, it is a thoroughly good book, honestly conceived and honestly executed, we are all indebted to it.”  Truer words, as the old saying goes, were never spoken, or written in this case.  The lessening of standards has cheapened us all, fraction by fraction.  Instead of making ourselves work to improve ourselves to attain lofty goals, we keep lowering the bar so that no one is left behind, and in doing so we negate any incentive to excel.  We have trained ourselves to be mentally and physically lazy.

Perhaps that is why it is so difficult for exceptional prose to be successful in today’s marketplace.  Many readers are unwilling to work that hard to appreciate it, so fewer writers are willing to risk writing it.  What a sad outcome.  Our lives have indeed “become poorer” overall.  It will take several generations of challenged readers to revitalize several generations of discouraged writers.  We should applaud those who take the risk of writing “thoroughly good books” and pray that there will always be brave souls among us who continue to do so.

Courtesy of Morguefile.

Courtesy of Morguefile.

[Quotes are from “Becoming a Writer” by Dorothea Brande. Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc., New York. 1934.  Third printing.]

Liz Flaherty on Friendship, Loyalty and Secrets

Today’s post showcases fellow author Liz Flaherty.  Her book The Girls of Tonsil Lake is free on Amazon from March 4 – 8.
It’s a great read about lasting friendships and what it takes to keep them.  Stop by and pick it up. Liz and I hope it gives you a few hours of pleasure.

Four women whose differences only deepen the friendship forged in a needy childhood…

Liz Flaherty_kindle cover

They were four little girls living in ramshackle trailers beside a lake in rural Indiana. They shared everything from dreams to measles to boyfriends to more dreams. As they grew up, everything in their lives changed—except their friendship.

Through weddings and divorces, births and deaths, one terrible secret has kept them close despite all the anger, betrayal, and pain.

Now, forty years later, facing illness, divorce, career challenges, and even addiction, the women come together once again for a bittersweet month on an island in Maine. Staring down their fifties, they must consider the choices life is offering them now and face the pain of what happened long ago.

Secrets are revealed and truths uncovered, but will their time together cement their lifelong friendship—or drive them apart forever?

Excerpt: I wanted Andie to come to New York, but she didn’t feel up to it. I felt a little shudder go through me when she said that. Andie’s always been so strong, and she’s cancer-free, so I found it startling and frightening when she admitted to feeling less than wonderful. But, as Let There Be Hope shows, cancer changes one in sometimes indefinable ways. Maybe this is one of those changes.

Mark and I visited some islands off the Maine coast once, in our early days. I was so enthralled that he bought me a house on one of them, a little strip of green called, appropriately enough, Hope Island. It reminds me of Bennett’s Island, the fictitious utopia of Elisabeth Ogilvie’s books, except that Hope has all the mod cons.

I love to go there. It’s a place I can be myself with little regard to what anyone else thinks. I sit in my bathrobe on the wraparound porch of the Victorian horror that is my house and drink coffee with Lucas Bishop, our neighbor. I read Jean’s books without worrying that someone will see the covers.

I’ve never taken anyone else—it was Mark’s and my private getaway—but I wouldn’t mind if it was Andie who was there. Or Jean and even Suzanne. Andie and I could work on her book. Jean could cook and keep house since she’s so crazy about doing that, and maybe even spin out one of her romances placed on an island. And Suzanne could…do our hair or something.

We would all be together as we are that single night every year when we drive to the lake and pretend we’re facing down our ghosts. I am a little afraid that the day will come that we’ll have to face them down for real.

I wonder if they’d come.

Liz Flaherty and Bandit the Wonder Dog

Liz Flaherty and Bandit the Wonder Dog

BIO: The Girls of Tonsil Lake is Liz Flaherty’s eighth book, and it is no less thrilling than the first one was. Retired from the post office, she spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else feels good at the moment (like drinking wine on Nan’s boat). She and Duane live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…30-some years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!

She’d love to hear from you at or please come and see her at:


Love, Surviving Invisible Scars, and Traumatic Stress Disorders

biker rose detailA confession: I have a soft spot in my heart for those serving in the military. My family has had, and still has, a lot of veterans in it. Some have passed on – either in the course of duty or after returning to civilian life, some are advanced in age, and some are still very young. We have been rightfully proud of each and every one of them.

When I began writing The Rocky Road romantic suspense series, I knew that my male protagonist, Doug, would have a military background. The training, attitude and experience would be a valuable part of his character. He would be a Vietnam-era veteran, one of the younger ones, who survived his tour of duty but returned with scars both visible and unseen. I did not expect to make a great issue of the unseen scars, but something unexpected happened to me as I worked on my books.

I began to realize the pervasiveness of stress disorders in those returning from active duty, and I realized how very little I really knew about the ways in which my relatives had been affected by their service. What I have come to know has been gleaned from conversations with their spouses, siblings, and children, because our veterans did not want to burden their civilian family members with horrific memories. Even after being discharged, they still protect us.

Since then I have been researching stress disorders. These afflictions are not confined to the military. There are similarities between “civilian” and combat-induced trauma, certainly, but they are not identical in magnitude and kind. Much depends on the severe nature of the trauma. Chronic and severe stress disorders are definitely more condensed and prominent in that segment of our population which has served, or still serves, in the military, particularly those directly involved in combat.

Traumatic Stress Disorder (Post or no) is not a simple thing, but a broad category with many levels, from a one-time, temporary shocked condition (Acute Stress Disorder) to a permanent condition resulting from continued traumatic exposure without an accompanying breakdown, one that literally re-wires a person’s brain, often nullifying their ability to have normal emotions and relationships (DESNOS). Do a basic Google search for “Traumatic Stress Disorders” and you will be overwhelmed with information.

There is no cure for PTSD, or its worst-case scenario, DESNOS, but it is possible for those so afflicted to learn to not only live with these disorders, but to live reasonable lives. It takes an enormous amount of desire, determination, and sheer fortitude to accomplish this, and for the truly lucky ones, a lot of unconditional love from those they care most about.

My female protagonist, Christine, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, too, as a result of savage and chronic sexual abuse from a sadistic boyfriend, and from directly experiencing the catastrophic loss of her first husband.

Together, Christine and Doug have a lot of deep-seated issues to resolve. They must learn to love, trust, comfort, and strengthen each other despite their respective reactions to a variety of stressors. It is difficult enough to begin a new life with another person after having been independent without throwing variations of stress disorders into that mix.

Showing Gratitude to our Veterans for Military Service and Sacrifice

Aside from government-related groups, there are many charitable, non-profit organizations (NPO’s) whose missions are to assist military veterans.  As with any NPO, it is beyond prudent to check out any organization you consider donating to, or seek help from. There are, unfortunately, con artists and scammers hidden amongst true friends.GeoRClarkMemplaza_Sm_26May2013

I recently found a site that links to a huge number of valid* organizations:  Military Family and Veterans Service Organizations of America (  It describes itself as “a federation of America’s finest national organizations working to ensure our military and their families are not forgotten in their service and sacrifice.”  The links provided are a broad range of charities that assist veterans and military families in finding resources for health and economic “concerns.” Resources encompass assistance in locating and securing safe, affordable housing, medical care, counseling, and scholarship foundations for veterans and children of veterans.

MFVSOA has links to well-known organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project ( and the Gary Sinise Foundation (  A sampling of some of the other groups is listed below:

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans   Tel: 1-800-VET-HELP           Mission:  “Support our nation’s former guardians. Help end homelessness among America’s veterans. Ensure they receive food, housing, health services, job training and placement, legal aid.”  According to their site “Nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.” That is an appalling statistic, and I doubt that anyone knows how many of those homeless veterans have been denied safe haven because of fear and ignorance surrounding their post-service conditions and behavior.  A good many are likely homeless because they return to a world where they have no one and no place waiting for them, or their former jobs are no longer available to them.

Operation Second Chance        Mission:  “Providing emergency assistance and recreation to wounded veterans and their families. Help facilitate their transition into civilian society. Promote public awareness for our wounded veterans.  Sometimes the help given is as simple as providing transportation for a disabled or disadvantaged veteran to purchase a gift for a child, because conquering the little things can be as meaningful – and difficult – as the big stuff.

Sew Much Comfort      Mission:  “To provide custom-made adaptive clothing, free of charge, to all wounded service members from current conflicts and from all branches of the military and National Guard…provide a tangible reminder of our gratitude…given them an added measure of comfort, dignity and freedom as they recover…”  The “adaptive clothing” referred to is ordinary exercise-type shirts, pants, and undergarments that have been re-designed and/or altered to accommodate bulky medical devices, prosthetics and paraphernalia that would otherwise mandate wearing a hospital gown.  Since 2004, Sew Much Comfort has distributed “more than 134,140 pieces of adaptive clothing to our wounded.”

Veterans Airlift Command         Mission:  “Free private air transportation to combat wounded veterans and families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.”   This is a service similar to the volunteer organization Angel Flight, Inc. (   Many general aviation pilots would gladly help out a veteran in a crisis situation.

The Gary Sinise Foundation has a poster on their site that pretty well sums up how a lot of Americans feel about our veterans and military:

“While we can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”  (©Gary Sinise Foundation)

Well said, Mr. Sinise. Well said.

* – Note: I cannot personally vouch for the solvency or ethical practices of any organization.  I am acquainted with many of them, but not affiliated with any of them.  Please use due diligence in checking things out for yourself, and help the organizations that you deem worthy of your time and funds.

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Ana Spoke, author

It's time to get hella serious about writing!

Fantasia Frog Designs

Fantastic imagery as far as your imagination can take you.

Green Lizard's Blog

The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.

K Morris - Poet

Kevin Morris poet

From an other-wise-sane perspective

thoughts, poetry, and photography by eebrinker

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Format Book In Word

Everything You Need to Format Your Book in Word

Linda Morris

Sweet and Sexy Romance

Jama's Fan Club

Because Jama is amazing, and she deserves it

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

The Writing Life

Chantal Augusto

Leeswammes' Blog

Books, Books, and Books


Me, Myself and iPhone


Finding the gem in the muck of real life

An International company that offers private antique art sales to clients around the globe.

Pepperbox Couture

Reduce, reuse, recycle - the sustainable design style

Wishlist art

Watercolour Paintings and Ink Drawings by Emily Boylan, painted in Dublin , Ireland

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