Deploying for hurricane relief impacted home life

I’m retired US Air Force,
20 plus years. I was an aircraft crew chief
for the military. Well, a thunderstorm comes in
and decides it wants to go ahead and threaten the populace
there in Louisiana. So as soon as Katrina came in,
I was about to get deployed, and I had to tell my employer
about that. It didn’t go well. Next thing you know,
I’m on an aircraft taking off to Louisiana. So I’m given a weapon. I’m having to leave my job. I’m having to leave my wife, who
was pregnant with our son. I left the home construction
process that I undertook earlier that year. And then having to deal with
my civilian employer, thinking, oh, there goes Herman
off to another vacation with the military. Well, not necessarily
this time. This was more real than anything
else because people’s lives were at stake with this. I need to go do this other
job that the military is asking me to do. I mean I will drop everything
to go and do that. Why? Because it’s in the best
interest of my country. I remember that cargo
door opening. As soon as they opened
it up, you could just feel that vacuum. And it was a smell and
a sight that I still remember to this day. Everything just smelled wet. It was like a war zone. It was just a sight that was
just devastating, but I knew that I had to maintain
my gung-ho attitude. And I’ve held everything else
in just to make sure we’re here to do a job. It took a toll. I endured whatever scars
I endured while there. And I’m on a plane back to
Austin, where I find out that my employer wants to fire
me in a roundabout way. I was able to secure another
job, but I left that particular job. So now, I’m at this new job,
horrible hours, horrible pay. My wife is still unemployed. And I was doing whatever I could
to just make ends meet financially. And friends and family and the
VA are coming in to try to– it’s not as if I called
in the cavalry. They came in and they started
helping me out. The VA was there for the
emotional support. Over the course of my career– towards the latter
part of it– I came up with my own acronym,
and it was Post Military Career Stress Disorder. I run myself a certain way. There’s a level of
accountability, discipline, integrity in how I do things. And I found that I was
a little bit too square, so to speak. I had to do things a certain
way, and it was to do them the right way. When you’re asked to do
something, you do them right. And I apply that to everything
that I do. And in the civilian sector, it’s
just a little bit of a different environment because
in their mindset, it seems– and you can hear it
in conversation– they’re out at a bar
already while we’re trying to do a job. Or they’re out playing soccer
when we’re trying to do a job. So if you’re not focused on
your job, you’re obviously focusing on something else
because then it’s going to affect the performance
of what you’re doing. And then it will eventually
affect the outcome of a task. So those are the frustrations
that I deal with. Going to the VA and talking
with them about these instances was definitely
a help. VA support outreach programs or
VA groups with the social media network that is at hand,
it’s amazing how you can share experiences. When I think of the VA, I think
of a focal point where there’s a lot of Veterans there
that yes, we want to be given a certain service. But they’re also there
for the camaraderie. We come to see the docs or
whomever, but we’re also there to talk with other Veterans
because they may have similar stories. It’s just amazing the wealth of
knowledge that they have to disseminate, so long as you
want to come and get it. And that’s what it’s about. The resource is there. I wasn’t kidding when I said
that they educated me. The Montgomery GI Bill
helped out, and they continue helping out. Katrina still lives
in my mind. And being deployed overseas in
support of Operation Desert Storm, OIF, OEF, when I was
deployed over to Spain to help that relief effort. That still lives in me,
so I’m still deployed. I may be physically here
right in front of you, but I’m still deployed. But I know now that there are
resources out there that can help me with what I still find
myself deployed for. So whenever I feel down in the
dumps, I rely on those resources, and I get back
on my horse again. I continue to ride, because
sometimes I fall off my horse. But we’re still knights. It’s how we get back on it, and
the attitude it takes to get back on there and take
care of business. So we need to go where there’s
professional help and guidance because the soldier is not the
only person that suffers from the battle zones, the combat
zones, the humanitarian relief efforts that we’re faced with. But it’s the families. And we need to use the faculties
that we’ve been gifted with and apply them
to getting help. We got training, and
we welcomed it. Let’s get the help
and welcome it. But the VA has all kinds
of resources available. I mean tons and tons and tons
that they’ve helped me with. They just have an enormous
amount of talent. And when you talk to the
representatives there, they want to help you out.

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