Thursday, May 26, 2011

Strike Out Stigma

Here is a letter I'm sending out to all of my friends to invite them to get involved in this amazing organization that is near and dear to my heart!  Please consider attending the event or making a donation if you can't attend.  Thanks so much!!

Dear Friends,

As some of you may know, I am an active volunteer with an organization called Bring Change 2 Mind (  Bring Change 2 Mind, founded by Glenn Close, is dedicated to eliminating the stigma of mental illness.  Though mental illness is something that we don't like to talk about, 1 in 4 people in our country suffer with a mental health problem like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.  Of that number, only approximately 20% receive the help and support they need to lead healthy and productive lives.  Bring Change 2 Mind knows that it is possible to live an active and happy life, even with a mental illness, and as an organization, we are committed to helping the public at large understand and respond to those who suffer.  Many people are fearful of even the words, "mental illness."  Our media portrays those with mental illness as violent, prone to criminal activity, unproductive and frightening.  But the truth is, many people living around you, people that you live with, work with or socialize with, suffer silently with mental health problems.  They are afraid to seek help due to stigma.  As a friend, I am asking you to help Bring Change 2 Mind eliminate this debilitating stigma that prevents people that you may know and love from actualizing their full potential and living healthy lives.  Please take a look at our first public service announcement, filmed in Grand Central Station under the direction of Ron Howard.  Glenn Close and her sister Jessie Close are featured in this PSA as they speak out about mental illness.

I am very excited to share with you that on June 18th, 2011, Bring Change 2 Mind is taking our anti-stigma message to Citi Field for our first "Strike Out Stigma" event with the New York Mets.  We have reserved 500 group seats available for $43.00 per ticket.  Seats include a BC2M logo t-shirt, the opportunity to attend a special pre-game address with Glenn Close, and so much more.  It's going to be a wonderful day at the ballpark, and we ask you to consider attending.  Tickets are available on our website at  Rally your friends and come along to join us for this fun and inspiring day at Citi Field!

I am also asking you to consider a financial gift to Bring Change 2 Mind.  A contribution in any amount will help Bring Change 2 Mind continue to create innovative approaches to stigma elimination.  Every dollar that Bring Change 2 Mind receives is put to good use educating our communities at large about this illness that affects all of us, directly or indirectly.  I know that you are solicited for charitable giving often, and I appreciate your consideration of my ask.  I am committed to Bring Change 2 Mind, and I can assure you that your funds will be used responsibly.  I have attached a donation form for your completion.  This form along with your gift may be mailed to Bring Change 2 Mind at the address provided on the form. Please also note that contributions are 100% tax deductible, and Bring Change 2 Mind will provide you with appropriate documentation for your tax purposes following our June 18th event.

Thank you for helping us make our "Strike Out Stigma" event a success!  We appreciate your interest in our mission, and we look forward to sharing our successes with you along the way.

With Gratitude,


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amazing God

One thing this trip to DC constantly reminded me of is how awesome our God is!  Time and time again I felt His presence.  From the first flashback emotions of getting on that plane alone flying to DC until my plane trip home I was in awe.

Both legs of my flight I had a seat next to amazing women that both blessed me and amazed me.  The first one was a lady who had recently been involved in an event at the Mologne House at Walter Reed for wounded warrior spouses.  She said she had been truly touched by that day and was really questioning her career path.  I was able to share a bit of my story with her during the flight to Atlanta.  It was like God knew just what we each needed.  Having someone kind to talk to right next to me was great for me since I get anxious simply about who may end up next to me on a flight and I was in the center seat!  So, Terria, you blessed me as much as I blessed you!!

On my flight from Atlanta to KC, again I was in the middle seat and facing anxiety over who I would be stuck between.  Soon, this wonderful lady came and sat next to me and I soon began to relax.  It's not the flying that bothers me, but who I may have to sit beside!   (I know, I'm kind of weird like that!)  I quickly discovered that she HATES flying and was extremely anxious about it.  I also quickly learned that she is a strong Christian!  We talked the majority of the flight and again, I think we were a each a blessing to the other.  She lost her husband in Afghanistan almost a year ago and was flying back to Ft. Leavenworth to pick up her daughter from K-State.  She shared with me that this was the first she had flown anywhere since her husband's death and that this was something he normally would have taken care of.  We had an amazing talk, stiff necks and all!  (We both had stiff necks from constantly turning toward each other to chat!)

These ladies both blessed me in different ways.  This also reminded me that God puts people in our lives, whether just in passing, or to stay awhile, for many different purposes.  It reminded me once again that God is in complete control of this crazy world and we just have to trust Him to provide who and what we need at just the right time!

Even Now......Gina

Friday, May 13, 2011

National Mental Health Awareness on the Hill

This week was amazing in so many ways.  I stepped out of my comfort zone once again and shared my story in the Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill Thursday morning.  Every time I think about these 3 days, I just can't believe it all went so well.  I also can't believe that I am beginning to very much enjoy public speaking.  That is something I never thought I would say!

I am so exhausted right now, but my mind is spinning with so many different directions I want to take this blog.  I think for this one I am mostly going to share the link to my blog post about the event that I wrote on the AW2 blog.  You can find that post here 

The other thing I want to say is how excited I am to see our military leaders and some of our Members of Congress truly reaching out and trying to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by mental illness, especially our service members and veteran's suffering from the invisible wounds.

The panel I was part of included some amazing people, Gen Chiarelli, BG Williams, Col Gadson, SGM Gallagher, and fellow spouse Sherri Hall.  They all shared very personal accounts and it was clear how passionate they are for families like ours.  What a renewal this gave me in my desire to advocate for other families caring for a loved one with invisible wounds.  At one point, Gen Chiarelli actually apologized to me for calling them the invisible wounds, because he knows that to those who love someone with these types of wounds, they are visible.

I'm so tired so I'm going to end this blog now.  Please check out my post on the AW2 blog linked to above and feel free to comment!  There will definitely be more to come in the next few days about this trip!

General Chiarelli and myself at the end of the event.  It was truly an honor to meet him!

Even Now.......Gina

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Speaking on The Hill

I have an amazing opportunity this week.  Late last week I was asked to come speak on PTSD and mental illness at Capitol Hill.  It is a gathering in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Day in the Cannon Senate Building.  Members of the PTSD caucus and Mental Illness Caucus will be in attendance as well as several higher ranking military members.

This opportunity both excites me and causes great anxiety.  I strongly feel that if we ever want things within the wounded warrior community to change for the better, we have to be willing to share our stories every time we get the chance.  We can't expect things to change if we are not willing to put ourselves out there.  However, with that being said, public speaking causes me great anxiety.  I am learning to deal with it and it gets easier each time I put myself out there.  I am hoping that sometime in the near future, it will become less stressful for me and that I learn to enjoy it.  After all, I'm just sharing my story and no one is a better expert on that than me!!!

More updates to come after I'm back from DC!!

Even Now.......Gina  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Random Rantings and an Update

I love HGTV and watch it pretty often. So, I thought I had this selling my house stuff down! Let me just tell you, it isn't near as easy and simple as those shows make it out to be!! After finally deciding that we just had to take a leap of faith and get our house on the market to see what happens, I'm as stressed as I was before. Sometimes I wonder when life will ever be peaceful. I always think that after this happens, or that passes, my life will become less stressful. I'm quickly discovering though that life just keeps giving us one stressful hurdle after another.

Our house has now been on the market for about a month. They have shown it several times and we have had one really low offer and are now negotiating another offer. I've been pretty confident in my decisions so far, but I'm really starting to second guess myself regularly. I have set firm limits in the dollars and really feel that I have to stick with that however hard it may be. (Why doesn't HGTV ever show all the haggling that goes on between the seller and the buyer??) It is all such a numbers game and I easily get confused!! I much prefer words over numbers! Really for me, I could care less how much money goes to what, just give me the bottom number I am walking away with. Is that really too much to ask?

Then we have the whole issue of what are we going to do if we sell our house? We have looked at a few that are for sale but there really isn't anything that we like. I refuse to get us into a situation where we feel we have to settle for something we really don't love. So, what would we do? That is the million dollar question right now. I am not opposed to renting for awhile if we have to, but who is going to rent to us month to month with 2 dogs plus a service dog? We may end up surfing couches for awhile!!

On to other things.......Allen is still in California. He is working with a psychologist there that we both really like. They are looking into the fact that he may be having seizures again. This makes sense to me, because I have figured out that his "episodes" became much more physical once they took him off of his anti seizure meds. I'm relieved that someone is finally trying to figure out what is going on instead of just sending him back home. I'm praying that they figure it out so we know what we are dealing with.

Makale is about to finish track season and Middle School. He broke the school record for high jump with a jump of 5'7" and was the anchor for a 4x4 relay team that also broke a school record! He is looking forward to the league meet on Saturday. I'm not sure how I feel about having a son in High School next year! I don't think it has hit me yet!! I'm still getting over the learner's permit and him beginning to drive! He is doing a great job though!!

Dreyson is getting ready to start rehearsals for his role in the King and I at Starlight Theatre this summer. He was also invited to be a part of the show for the gala at Starlight on May 21. He is pretty excited about this and has a phone interview today because they are interested in featuring him in the show! I'm so excited to see him shine in something that he truly loves!!

Even Now.......Gina