Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National PTSD Awareness Day

Today is National PTSD Awareness Day and I really want to make a difference for people struggling with PTSD, their caregivers, and their families.  PTSD is something that affects my family each and everyday.  Every single person who is close to my husband has been affected in some way by his PTSD.

One way, we can all make a difference is by educating ourselves and by passing information along through our social media sites.  This is a very simple task and can be done by anyone.  There are so many great resources out there about PTSD that are easy to understand and share.  Below is a list of some of my favorites.

  • Silent Siren is the organization that Allen and I founded to help families supporting a loved one with PTSD gain confidence in the Emergency System when in crisis and to educate emergency responders about PTSD.  You can find information about PTSD and mental illness in general through our website.  Connect on facebook at
  • Karla Smith Foundation is the parent organization of Silent Siren and "supports families affected by mental illness and suicide."  Under their learn more tab you can find information, support, resources, and coping strategies.  Find KSF on facebook at
  • Tug McGraw Foundation "provides resources and hands-on support, fosters understanding, promotes awareness, and stimulates research and scientific collaboration to improve the quality of life for people with brain-related trauma and tumors."  They recently launched a redesigned website that has great information on TBI, PTSD, and brain tumors and includes information for caregivers.  It also includes an interactive message board for each of their areas of focus. to connect on facebook.
  • Family of a Vet "helps veterans and the people who love them, find their way, find information, and to find a way not only to cope with life after combat....but to survive and thrive."  From their website you can find many articles about just about anything related to PTSD and secondary PTSD.  To find FOV on facebook go to
  • The National Center for PTSD has tons of information regarding PTSD for the public and professionals.  While this Center is a part of the VA, this information provided here is not explicitly for veterans.
The newest estimates say that 400,000 returning service members will suffer with PTSD but only half will seek treatment.  What will you do to help eliminate the stigma surrounding this invisible wound to help encourage those suffering in silence to seek treatment?

Even Now........Gina

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Ya Gotta Believe"

Allen and I were honored to be able to attend the first annual Tug McGraw Celebrity Shootout on Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee.  The event was to raise money for the Tug McGraw Foundation which supports The Pathway Home in Yountville, California where Allen received the amazing help for his PTSD last year.

Attending an event like this was something we will never forget.  This was an enormous milestone for Allen in his recovery of PTSD.  A year ago, we never would have imagined that we would be at a gun club together where live ammunition was being fired!  It was the first time for Allen to be around live fire since he was in Iraq over 4 years ago.  Up until now, we have been afraid of what might happen in a situation with live fire.  I can't begin to tell you what this day meant for us!  Not only did it show us that Allen has come so far, it also showed us that Allen is capable of doing anything he sets his mind to.  The confidence this event built for both of us is life changing.  While we know that PTSD will be with him for the rest of his life, we also know that it doesn't have to be a show stopper.  He has put in the hard work to learn strategies to help him live life to the fullest and attending this event proved it!

Our day started at 5:00 am when the alarm went off.  Both of us were wondering why we had agreed to do the media requests, but once we were moving that thought was quickly forgotten.  At 6:00 am the ABC affiliate was at the gun club to do live shots throughout their morning show.  The main event began at 9:00 am with practice opening up.  The first shot rang out and Allen didn't even flinch!  He sniffed the air for the smell of gun powder and smiled!  Not too long ago, that smell sent him to a very dark place.  The day would only get better from here!  The National Anthem played and the event kicked off with a small talk from Jennifer Brusstar, executive director of Tug McGraw Foundation followed by Mark McGraw who had organized the event.

Soon the shooters were all off.  The teams were made up of four people plus a professional shooter and a celebrity.  Allen and I went down on the course and he loved it!  He learned a lot about the sport and spent quite a bit of time with Terry Hetrick, a pro shooter from the Nashville Gun Club.  Allen can't wait to go back!!

After the shoot, we all enjoyed a BBQ lunch and waited for the results.  Winning teams received baseballs, Tug McGraw jerseys, or guitars autographed by all 17 celebrities!  Pretty great prizes in my opinion!!  A silent auction also brought in great items and funding.  The final part of the event was a demonstration presented by Bill Keever and Josh Richmond who is on the 2012 US Olympic team!  This was about a 20 minute show and it was great!  Josh's shooting skills are amazing!  He wowed us with clays and then brought out the food!  Allen insisted on being in the front row and didn't move even when he began being hit by chunks of tomato!  Needless to say, I quickly took cover!!  As you can see in the picture to the right, he did turn his back but was completely covered in shaving cream that Josh had shot!!  Frankie was also pretty covered, poor girl!

Allen and I will definitely be at the 2nd Annual TMF Celebrity Shootout and will be bringing along the boys!  We can't wait as we are sure it will be another fantastic day!  Terry promised Allen that he was saving a spot on his team for Makale next year but he may just have to save one for Allen as well!!  

Thanks to Bobby Brooks, Mark McGraw, Jennifer Brusstar, Tim McGraw and all of the celebrities, Josh Richmond, Terry Hetrick, Sherri and Jenni Clark, all of the sponsors, and everyone else involved in making this event such a spectacular day in our lives.  You will never know the impact it had on us and the huge step it was in Allen's walk with PTSD.  

The steps that Allen continues to take amaze me everyday.  His courage and strength inspire me to be the best that I can be.  (Sorry, that sounds kind of like an Army commercial!)  He is truly my hero!  "Ya Gotta Believe!!"

Even Now.......Gina