Mark Ross learned that his teenage sister was killed in a traffic accident over the weekend. He had no vehicle, so he asked someone to help him get to his family in Indiana as quickly as possible. But as they sped through Ohio, a cop stopped them. Mark is black.
They were speeding through Ohio, and Mark knew that he had an outstanding warrant. The driver was arrested and the car towed. But then something amazing happened. Here’s Mark’s Facebook post:
“At 3am I got a phone call stating that my sister had been killed in a car accident due to some young dumb punk! I haven’t slept and instantly got on the road. Of course we were speeding, trying to get back to Detroit. And we got pulled over in Ohio. I knew I was going to Jail due to a petty warrant. The police called Wayne county and they refused to come get me because of the distance. I explained to the officer that my sister had died and that I needed to get to my mother asap. I broke down crying and he saw the sincerity in my cry. He REACHES OVER AND BEGAN PRAYING OVER ME AND MY FAMILY. He offered to bring me 100 miles further to Detroit because they towed the vehicle. Everybody knows how much I dislike Cops but I am truly Greatful [sic] for this Guy. He gave me hope”
Trooper J. Robison was true to his word. He drove Mr. Ross 100 miles to Detroit to a coffee shop where he could meet up with a cousin.
“It was just so overwhelming. They were trying to help us.” Ross to Inside Edition
The trooper even promised to attend the funeral.
So there you have it, one of countless numbers of encounters with black community members that do NOT end in death. It even had a happy ending.
Coming Home is a life-sucking, difficult thing for many military members who return from combat. Moving from facing daily death to mowing the lawn simply doesn’t happen for some. The battle continues, sometimes more severe after they leave the combat zones.
MSG Tim Shelton – the Ghosts of Battle
I met Msg Tim Shelton, US Army, online while he was stationed at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan back in May of 2014. A member of Uncle Sam’s, he was excited that he only had a few short months to go before he could leave and go home. His notes to me here are used by permission of his wife Amy. I hope that the progression of his life from deployment to civilian status will show all of you what our military members go through, and why many do not come out on the other side.
He was sitting in the pax terminal ready to leave on September 8, 2014. He seemed excited and told me he’d talk to me and maybe write something for us when he got stateside.
September 8, 2014 – “I may have some writing for you to maybe consider when I get back, lots of things screwed up over here, unbelievable.”
September 10, 2014 – “Faye, made it to Bangor, ME, so glad to be away from that place.”
[What Tim did not realize at the moment was “that place” had followed him home.]
September 10, 2014, continued – “I am going through what is apparently a significant case, dreams, flashbacks, no sleep, etc…was surprised when my counselor recognized your name. Thanks for all you do, everything helps…”
[I checked on him on occasion up until October 25 when he wrote,]
October 25, 2014 -“Hey, Faye, not too well, have a hard time sleeping so I tend not to, food is an afterthought, anxiety is way up there about 3 days of the week but I’m still seeing my counselor, she has me on a sleep med and a pill to suppress the nightmares, but I still fight it… I’m working through it as best I can…”
[Cpt Valerie Scott, his counselor, tried everything normally used to help him.]
January 29, 2015- “Hey, Faye just checking in, hope you are well. Anxiety is off the chart, can’t stay in the house, in my camper on the river. Very peaceful it helps. Still working, haven’t retired yet, it’s all that keeps me going, I think. I don’t know what to do or where to go. I’m seeing my counselor but not too sure..I’m seeing my psych and it helps. The dreams are terrible and they’re every night. This sux.”
February 16, 2015 – “Hey Faye, new development the Army has decided to MEB me, apparently I’m too nuts to stay active duty, LOL, but I’m still working and briefing my O-6 and the 101 ABN Div CDR monthly.”
[Suddenly, his purpose was lost at the most crucial time].
May 31, 2015 – “Hey, Faye hanging in there, I’m going through the med board, it’s kinda hard seeing your name listed as not recommended for further service. But I’ve made all my va appointments and am waiting my rating. This sux, I live in my camper because it only has one door to check when I’m paranoid (all the time). The dreams are still there but I’m on drugs that are supposed to stop them. Thnx for the kind thought, it means more than you know.”
My last communication with Tim was June 1, 2015. Two short months later, he was gone. His funeral was held on August 6, 2015. I will never forget him, nor his precious family who still grieve his loss.
Treatment – drugs
For our combat veterans, there is a chemical inside the brain that changes with heightened tension. In battle, that chemical change keeps them alive. In civilian life it tries to kill them. The stress chemical adrenaline increases during combat. When they come home, it lodges in the “emotional” part of the brain and stays there. [Cortisol, the stress hormone is a factor as well].
Research is being done to see how it can be removed, but it doesn’t help those going through the issue now, or the ones who went through it previously.
Current treatment usually involves dulling the dreams and anxiety with drugs. In the case of a US Marine, William Wold, that method eventually led to disaster.
“It’s hard to kill, and it’s hard not to get killed…” the sentiments of Marine William Wold as he was being interviewed by Kevin Sites while he was in Fallujah, Iraq. But his biggest battles were yet to be faced when he arrived home.
After he was home for a while, Wold began to display problems, particularly on the 4th of July. The sounds of firecrackers and the smoke made him twitch and pace…as he screamed at his mother that there was “no switch that can turn off what’s going on in here.” As his pulse raced out of control, his mother had to scream back at him in order to calm him down- and that took 3 tries.
Change the paradigm
For Wold, too, the battle had come home with him. Ghosts, very real ones plagued him. The litany of drugs prescribed plus the addition of methadone took his life in the end.
Do our legislators really understand the problem? Does the military? Does Society? The concept of “damaged” service members leaves many in fear, rather than giving a hand up to them. The VA lists veterans as “mentally deficient” and simply causes their guns to be taken away.
The answer may begin with a change in the perception – the changing of the paradigm of our returning veterans. A grocery list of drugs is not the answer, but true finding of ways to help them cope would be.
Amidst the broken walls of allowable love of country stands the tattered remnant of America’s patriots. Reviled as evil, their hearts for a nation once free are now stamped as dangerous and incapable of compassion. Where once a bright future reigned, now dark clouds of fear…or is it anger…shroud the hearts of The Remnant.
Yet they stand, their fingers intertwined with those of their children. They face the future with hope, knowing that the seasons of nations can transform from Light to Dark, or Dark to Light, in an instant.
The sight of “Old Glory” still causes their hearts to cry out. Her unfurled majesty is a moment of wonder for the privilege of citizenship in a land where belief in Freedom lives on in spite of the circumstances. A land where giving up or giving in is not an option. It’s a land where the flag’s symbols drive passion and love of values, a love of life. The patriot is caught in a moment of reflection, a moment of quiet remembrance.
Lest they forget that the flag is not just a flag, her colors call out to them. “My red stripes, my blood, shed to protect your sacred vow. The white of purity is a state of the heart which struggles for release within your human condition. The blue of Heaven, your final hope, the favor of the Almighty sought by the forefathers of America’s Constitution. Do you remember? Will you stand firm? Will you defend me?” The Remnant stands silently, inwardly weeping for the foundations destroyed by human disregard for her meaning.
Benjamin Franklin’s words from the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence ring through the ages in stark testimony to the plight of the land once called “the colonies.” “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” The Remnant cannot forget. They know that foundations are built on unity of purpose.
Descendants of the Revolutionary War know well the sacrifices of their ancestors. Frigid nights when inhospitable conditions threaten to destroy the men who call themselves “patriots.” Wearing tattered rags and threadbare shoes, they forge ahead because to give up would mean certain death. With few weapons and even fewer troops, their courage and determination to create a land of liberty pushes them far into the mouth of the English Lion.
Captured, murdered, tortured, but not crushed, a tiny armed militia finally breaks free of the yoke of tyranny. Their hope of freedom is won by sheer inner strength, the heart of The Remnant. It is the heart, after all, that drives mankind.
Through the conflicts of the ages, in battles both foreign and domestic, the fledgling nation grows. The Remnant flourishes, bent upon breathing life into their land. They make mistakes. They falter. Then in a rage that rivals the war in Heaven, brother fights against brother during the pursuit of freedom for all in the Civil War. Differences threaten to rip apart the nation that has been so desperately won.
The Remnant once again emerges, a breed whose hope for healing of their land shines brightly in the darkness of war. Abraham Lincoln speaks their hearts: “If we do not make common cause to save the good ship of the Union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.” 1861 through 1865 mark years of savage bloodshed, as America splits itself apart over many issues, not the least of which is freedom for the slaves.
And yet, in the battle for liberty and justice for all, The Remnant triumphs.
As the fight for freedom moves to the world stage, The Remnant’s heart begins to break under the barrage of sorrow. A sense of sadness begins to pervade the nation. The hardships of two World Wars, the Great Depression, broken lives and dreams overwhelm the senses. Victories bring celebration, but by the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War, a jaded and cynical nation emerges. The Remnant watches as men and women no longer fight to win. Now they have learned to give up and give in.
Only brief respites during the years to come gives hope to The Remnant once again. But afterwards, the tide turns, and what was once an honor becomes something to disregard. What was once good is now spoken of as evil. Instead of unity, division now reigns supreme over the land. The definitions of a patriot and the very history of a nation are now subject to the whims of those who do not understand the hearts of The Remnant.
Yet, in the face of ever growing hostility, The Remnant persists. Freedom burns deep in their psyche. The land of the free may be weakened in the reality of current politics, but that hope, that desire for liberty still pervades the hearts of those who love America.
I am part of The Remnant. My family’s forefathers fought and died against overwhelming odds in battles for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The sight of Old Glory fluttering in the breeze builds a lump in my throat. It is as if her stars have been ripped from the field of blue, and her red stripes swept from the flag. My heart breaks to see angst and division slashing the fabric of what was once a proud nation.
As I reflect on the sacrifices of my ancestors, I grieve for my country’s failure to recognize its own foundations. Whether it’s debt that crushes the hopes and dreams of the citizens, the loss of freedoms once granted under the Constitution, or the lack of vision for the future, this country is on a collision course. And I wonder. Will we, The Remnant, rise once again to right this Ship of State before it runs aground on the shoals of history? Or are we doomed to the tyranny of government that fails to understand the consequences of its actions? Only The Remnant knows its own heart. And the questions? Only The Almighty can answer.