Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day Parade

Last weekend, our family participated in the veteran's day parade here in Ottawa.  It was the first year since Allen's injury that he has even been able to attend the parade, let alone be in it.  They have asked us several times to participate, but this was the first year Allen has been well enough to even try it.  Our good friends were here from South Carolina, (the dad is also a wounded warrior with severe PTSD), so they joined us in the parade!

The original plan was for the kids to ride in the back of the truck with Allen and Dave and Frankie and Harry (their service dogs), while Meaghan and I rode in the front (where it was warm!)!!  We ended up switching that though and had my sister drive the truck (I was afraid I might get distracted and end up running over a tuba player in front of us), Meaghan, Makale, and Abbey rode in the front, with the little kids in the back.  I rode on the tail gate while Allen, Frankie, Dave and Harry walked behind us.  That way if there was a problem with Allen I could jump off and help.

The little kids were so excited to throw out candy!  I went to the store and bought a BUNCH of left over halloween candy on clearance so they would have plenty, or so I thought!  They ran out in the first block!  The parade ran from 5th for about 6 blocks.  They have a small ceremony in the middle of the parade, with a 21 gun salute, short speaker, national anthem, and a fly over.  Well, we were stopped right in the intersection, only a block into the parade for the ceremony.  If you can imagine this was highly stressful as we are in the middle of downtown, in the middle of an intersection with people everywhere, a fly over, and then the 21 gun salute.  Dave had to walk away from it all but was able to take care of himself and get away.  Allen sort of froze.  I was able to talk to him throughout though and keep him here.  It was amazing!  I was pretty nervous while we were going through it, but it was great for him to make it through.  What a boost in confidence!!  He was even able to enjoy the rest of the parade after we started moving again!!  I just walked with him the rest of the way which was actually pretty cool!

Since our show had just aired the night before everyone was yelling our names and clapping for us.  It was a bit overwhelming and kind of weird, but it was good that we could be there.  I think it helped for people to be able to see us and wave to us to make it seem more normal.  I was so proud of Allen and Dave for doing what they had to in order to take care of themselves.  Not long ago, neither one of them would have been able to take care of themselves in that situation.  Proud of you guys!!

It did take a toll on Allen later that day.  We came home and he had a headache and needed some rest.  Once again though, he took care of himself which is such a huge improvement.  He went into his quiet room, took a little nap and regrouped and then was able to join us again later that afternoon.  We still had a house full of company and he really enjoyed them.  It was so great to see such a huge improvement in a year's time.  Last year at this time I wasn't sure if he would ever be able to live with us in a home environment again or if we would have to find somewhere for him to live long term.

It just goes to show that God is good.  He has a plan for us if we will just take the time to listen.  Allen put in so much hard work that wasn't easy, but he is so much better now because of it.  Today on Veteran's Day, 11-11-11, I want to thank Allen for his self less sacrifice and service to our great nation as well as all of the other veteran's past, present, and future.  America is great because of you!  Allen you are my true hero!

Even Now.......Gina

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thank you, thank you , thank you......

Those two little words just do not seem to be enough, but I don't know what else to say.  I am beyond grateful everyone who had anything to do with our build.  I know that I will never know you all and be able to thank you personally, but know that we are forever grateful.

It is so amazing to be see the dedication, love, hard work, and sacrifices of so many come together to help bring our family together again.  I am so humbled by it all.  Please know, that me and my entire family are very thankful to have such a supportive community surrounding us.  We know the conditions were extreme, and we appreciate everyone!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the donations, time, sweat, energy, time and everything else that was given for us.  We will never forget all of that and will do our best to pay it forward every chance we get.

Even Now......Gina

Friday, November 4, 2011

Silent Siren

Our family is very pleased to announce our new program Silent Siren.  It is the culmination of our personal experiences, tons of hard work, and the passion we have to help others who find themselves in similar situations.  The idea for this program has been running through my mind for several years now.  It is great to finally see it come to fruition!

You can learn more about this unique PTSD alert program by logging on to our new website at .  Please help us grow by sharing our link, facebook page, and twitter!  You can also donate to Silent Siren through our website.

Through our journey of being a wounded warrior family we have had many struggles, but we have also been incredibly blessed.  We are happy to be able to give back and share our story to help pave a better road for those who will follow in a similar journey.  We hope that we can use our voice and story to speak for other families struggling with PTSD.  We are extremely honored and humbled that we have been given this opportunity to speak out and fight the stigma.

None of this would be possible without my amazing team who has believed in my idea from the first time I shared it with them.  I want to thank Dr. Ike Nnawuchi, Emily Smith, John Steed, and Theresa Emerson for their belief in me and my idea, their hard work and dedication in making this dream a reality, and their commitment to see it through.  We love you guys!

I also want to thank Karla Smith Foundation for deciding to make this a program under their foundation. I am proud to partner with them and work together to help bridge the gap between families supporting a loved one with PTSD and emergency services personnel.  I am excited to see where this goes!

Please support our new program in any way you can.  Thank you!

Even Now.......Gina

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Well, the big day is finally almost here.  In less than 24 hours our episode will have aired and the big build up will be over!  We have a pretty big day planned for tomorrow and unfortunately, we probably won't be getting much sleep tonight due to our anticipation!!

Our local ABC affiliate, KMBC9 news will be here broadcasting live from our house for their morning show.  They wanted to be here from 4:30-9:00, yes that's am!!!  We decided that the earliest we would be available is 6:30 and the boys aren't too happy about that early!  So, they will be here from 6:30-9:00 tomorrow morning.  I must admit, the live interviews make me a bit nervous!  I've gotten pretty used to the recorded ones and the ability to edit and start over.  Live makes me a little anxious!  While they are here in the morning, they will also be filming some segments for their 5:00 and 6:00 editions, and will then return around 8:00 to be here for some of our watch party.  On the 10:00 news, they will then show the party and some of the inside of the house.  Pretty big day!

I'm so excited that our friend's are coming in from South Carolina to share this day with us.  The Long Family will be here for the weekend.  We are all happy about this and can't wait to see them.  It really means a lot to me that they took the time to come share this with us.  We've been through a lot together and it will be so good for us to just be able to be together again!

I hope you are all able to tune into the news stories as well as our episode on Extreme Makeover Home Edition tomorrow, November 4!  We are excited to see how it all turns out and how much awareness it will raise for PTSD.

We are also launching our own program tomorrow and I am going to post about it all on it's own!  So, there will be 2 posts tonight because it's such a big day!!  Thank you all for your support!

Even Now.......Gina

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting a New Look

Yes, my blog has had a makeover!!  We are in the process of launching our own program on Friday, November 4 with the premiere of our episode on Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition and wanted to tie my blog into our new website.  In order to make them connected, we gave my blog a makeover!!

Please don't think you are on the wrong blog!  It is still me, Gina writing about our everyday life as we deal with PTSD.  Stay tuned for a big announcement of our program and website in a day or two!  Thanks for all of your support you have shown our family.  We definitely wouldn't be where we are without the love and support we get from our family, friends, and community.

Even Now.......Gina

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

The day is finally getting here!!  We are all really excited to watch our episode on Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition this Friday, November 4 on ABC!!  It will be great to see how it all went down while we were having a great time in Yosemite.

I'm so excited to see how much awareness this episode will bring to PTSD and other mental illnesses.  It is not only our hope that Allen will continue to do well here, but also that it will raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with PTSD!!  I truly hope that this episode will have a huge impact on our nation to help everyone struggling with these illnesses.

There are a couple of sneak peek's available and can be found at and .  Grab your tissues, they are really emotional, at least for me!!  Please feel free to share this blog post, sneak peeks, or anything else to get the word out on this important show!

Stay tuned later this week for some other exciting announcements!!

Even Now........Gina