Memorial Day Should be OUTLAWED

Instead, Every Day the American public should express thanks to our veterans and soldiers.  If we were more caring and appreciative on a daily basis instead of squeezing our thanks in between a cold beer and a softball game, NASCAR race or Bolder Boulder on our day off, then perhaps veterans would be more honest with us about their experience and the stress they are dealing with each day.

What is it that is capturing their souls and leading our soldiers to commit suicide in record numbers? In the past five years the suicide rate among soldiers was the highest since 1980 when they were first recorded.

Military suicides make up 20% of all suicides in the US.  And for every death, five members of the armed forces tried to take their lives and were hospitalized instead.

The government is trying to stem this human exodus and is deploying mental health experts to work with the returning soldiers and their families.  In the beginning, when a soldier was deployed, he or she had the support of family back home. However, as the deployments were extended and increased, the support back home began to have their own mental health issues.

For the families left behind dealing with their own anxieties, running the household, making ends meet, parenting their children, holding down a job and fearing for the safety of their loved one, they may not have the strength to offer the support and hope to their spouse that they once had. They may be seeking mental health help for themselves, taking meds and antidepressants and trying to get support for their children.

In addition to being away from home, fighting a war that doesn’t end, with no actual date of return … these soldiers are learning about the stress they’ve put their family under. So to help out, they share less. They communicate less. They take the burden off the family back home as a way to protect them and hold it all inside.

And when they return home – they are wounded. Some are wounded on the outside, others on the inside and many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder is commonly found in people who have lived through a traumatic event that caused them fear, stress and a sense of helplessness.

How do we express our thanks besides waving a flag? How do we offer help?

I sure would like to know.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial helps with the Healing Process

I read an article on how the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (VVM) helps veterans deal with their post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  According to the report, it took them two or more visits before they saw improvement.  After viewing the wall a few times, they saw marked improvement in their PTSD symptoms compared to veterans who did not view the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The researchers discovered that although the design of the memorial is unique, there is a feeling of tradition and history as you stand before it. Those features were comforting and added to the healing process. The design of the wide open path in front of the wall, nearby benches and the freedom to locate names, remember faces and allow the memories to flow … all led to a sense of release.

Being able to see their reflection in the polished marble brought them face to face with their losses. Reading names of friends and comrades and seeing beyond the engraved names to their own faces was painful and healing.

I wonder if the  families of deceased veterans will  benefit by going to the memorial a few more times?

For those of us who didn’t get the chance to say “Good-bye” or “I love you,” or “I’m sorry,” …will a handful of visits to the wall help us release our anger and sadness?

Maybe it’s time to plan another visit to the wall and find out?

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Healing Power of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Nature’s Playpen

Taking a walk in silence can be one of the most educational things you can do to enhance your growth.

rushing water in springUnplugging music, books, podcasts and most of all …the train of endless thoughts … allows you time to let in new ideas.

Walking, looking at the scenery, smelling the air, taking a shower, watching clouds … all mindless activities that give your mind a much needed break.

To grow — you have to have downtime.  If you hike with a friend, take a break from the conversation and walk in silence for awhile. If you hike alone, focus on the path, the trees, flowers blooming, clouds forming or your breathing. Stop the chatter and be in the moment.

So simple, so easy – it takes focus though. Focus on the moment at hand.  Your brain will thank you for this brief respite. Trust me.

Universal Design Learning: As simple as pie!

Any person who engages with a child knows about Universal Design Learning (UDL).

UDL is changing the way you engage with a child. You teach through song. You teach through drawing. You teach by pointing, coloring, building, engaging, giving and receiving.

And the child learns because the message is delivered in a fun manner. A train is 1) type of vehicle on a track that 2) goes fast and 3) blows a whistle and 4) hauls material and on and on. In order to truly ‘get it’ it helps to hear, see, watch and feel the train.

A child learns using a variety of learning styles. It’s simple, fun and engaging.

Why should that change when a child goes to college? Why do the instructors feel that the room full of students have any desire to look at a list of details or sit and listen.

UDL and learning styles make sense.

Lectures do not.

See how simple that is!

Universal Design: It’s a no brainer

Universal Design Instruction is about offering coursework in a variety of ways. For instance, instead of just lecturing, an instructor needs to be aware of the learning styles of the students. Some students LOVE to sit and listen to lectures; others need to see drawings, diagrams or videos. Still others like to write and benefit from exercises where they use their hands and record the message.

The challenge is for the instructor to realize that what is most efficient (lectures) is not usually what works. Using different techniques is important – lecturing, videos, music, movement, sound and writing all work and, if incorporated, would keep the student engaged.

It takes extra work for the instructor but the end result is pretty powerful. When there is a student with a disability in the classroom and the instructor changes the way the class is taught (with the student’s needs in mind) … everyone benefits. That’s the whole point of ‘universal design’.
It’s a no brainer. Truly.