Man, these last few months have been IMMENSE for all of us here at FTWWF. With our 3rd and 4th rounds of care packages delivered to first responders, our recent online t-shirt partnership with Nine Line Apparel, nonstop meetings with partner organizations, promoting our Helping Our Heroes support group in Savannah area, AND our Kick Off Weekend with our monthly Teen Adventures and Wild Walking, things have been crazy! I guess the phrase, “We are never given what we can’t handle,” must be true, since we’ve made it this far. Similarly, it has also proven true, that you should never tell yourself that you can’t handle any more than what is on your plate. If you do, the Fly Corps might call you about taking a random road trip in the middle of the week. Like that one time, where we drove 576 miles in 24 hours.
So, there I was two months ago, crammed into a Suburban with my crazy range manager friend Brandon, my incredibly gifted photographer friend/adopted sister Christina, their two gentle giants of pups, and my lovely two-nage daughter, as I wrote this up on my cracked phone screen. Classy, I know. What, you might ask, could have driven this organizational chaos to become our reality? My friends, opportunity came a-knocking, so we hit 95-North with a quickness.
When I say “quick,” I mean that Christina and Brandon dropped everything and drove to Savannah from North Fort Myers, Florida, to push my butt out the door and recharge my “go” button. The rushing and sporadicness of the trip was well worth the initial stress of our journey to Duluth, Georgia. After hours of jamming out to Disney rock covers, eating the world record of the most Taco Bell, and making random pit stops to let Christina’s magic behind her camera lens bring life to (somewhat) questionable surroundings, we finally arrived to our destination.
Remember watching Extreme Home Makeover on HGTV years ago? I used to cry with every episode because of the love and hearts of the volunteers. Today, I got to walk onto the Military Makeover live set like I belonged there….talk about an emotional experience!
This heartwarming show highlights a deserving military family by renovating their home at no cost to them. Local professionals and volunteers then come together to give these selfless families the labor needed to make it all possible. This takes away the burdens that come with home ownership, replacing it with the gift a of warm and loving home – all in roughly 2 weeks time.
To our surprise, after signing in, the producer asked if he could interview us about FTWWF. Talk about WOW! Having the chance to speak to the film crew about our mission brought many things to my mind and heart. With this, I realized that some of the most pivotal moments in our lives are the ones where we break the ice on some of the hardest topics. For me, that is talking about suicide and the realness surrounding it.
When asked what I would tell veterans watching the program, I took a moment to let the jumbled words in my head become cohesive. I answered something to this effect:
“I would tell veterans struggling with post traumatic stress that they are not alone. Reaching out for help, feeling uncomfortable emotions like guilt or shame, or having a less-than-perfect past does not make anybody undeserving of getting help or of being happy. We are all unique, so every person can benefit from different kinds of therapy. There is no one-size-fits-all with mental health.”
“If you are trying something that is not helping you, speak up. Don’t be afraid to say that a counselor isn’t a good fit or that a medication is not working. Your family and friends need you here and you deserve to overcome whatever you are facing. Dig deep and find the strength to give your demons a run for their money. You’ve got this.”
119 miles until this child can run around in circles.
It wasn’t long after this trip that we brought the Marquez Family to Savannah for our Kick-Off weekend, and got to spend some one on one time with this incredible family of fighters. It was truly awe-inspiring to hear Marcelino’s personal struggle with PTSD, and how, with the love and support of his family, he was able to fight his own internal wars.
Thank you Marcelino, his wife Franci, and their beautiful children, for spending the weekend in our beautiful city, and sharing your incredible story with our organization.
Fight on, warriors.
*This episode will air Friday, September 4th, 2020 at 7:30 AM EST on the Lifetime network. Interview may or may not be used in the final production.*