Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Reminder

One of the (many) upsides to being released from active duty to attend to my thyroid issues is being home on Father's Day. Although this isn't my first year as a father, it is still a blessing to be at home with my family and enjoy this special holiday with them. It was also great to spend some quality time with my own father, who I took to a Tennessee Smokies game this past Thursday. The game of baseball has been, and will continue to be, an intimate part of our relationship and I'm thankful for every moment we get to spend together watching our nation's past time.
At church this morning, I was listening to a sermon that began like most sermons on Father's Day. The guest pastor spewed out some sobering statistics about how many fatherless homes there are in America and the thousands more that have "absentee fathers', men who live in the home but aren't really present in the lives of their children. Next came the part where we were lectured on how important fathers are, and how as Christians we have a duty to teach and train our children on the ways of the world and guide them towards living a Christ-like life.
I'll be honest, at first I was a little perturbed. I was hoping for a message much like the ones given to mothers on their day, where they are lauded for all they do every other day of the year. However, I was quickly brought back to the reality of why as fathers we get these messages every year. It's because of what many of us DON'T do every other day of the year.
This is the first Father's Day that my dad will spend without his father, who passed away on April 19th. Their relationship was tumultuous, at best; however, I'm inclined to believe that, in the waning years of his life, my grandfather felt deep remorse for his past indiscretions, although he never admitted it. Moreover, unlike many sons who have disavowed their absentee fathers, my dad made a concerted effort to show him love as best he could.
Father's Day reminds me that, 1) I am so blessed to have such a great father and 2) the greatest gift I can give my child(ren) is my time, attention and unconditional love. Withholding these gifts will do immeasurable damage to both them and me. As fathers, we need to be reminded of this duty from time to time. What better day than when we are honored as fathers?

Monday, June 6, 2011


Well, I have officially been released from active duty and am now sitting in the Philadelphia International Airport, waiting for my flight home. As is common with the military, there have been some serious catches to my leaving here and going home for a little while.
First, and most obviously, since I'm no longer working for the Army during this time, I'm not being paid by them. Moreover, at this point they are not providing me with the free health insurance that I need in order to go to the doctors they are telling me to see and getting the lab work done that they say I need to have in order to get back on active duty and do this deployment. Really?
The fickle beast of rationality has once again escaped the Army bureaucracy and so my family is being forced to jump through a series of hoops to get this situation resolved, or we will have to fork out the money needed to get back on Tricare Reserve health care program.
One of the advantages to doing this deployment was it's ability to help increase the cushion of our reserve funds; however, it looks like we're going to have to deplete some of it before getting a return on our investment. On the bright side, I'll gladly pay whatever price to be home with my family and friends. You can't put a price tag on these relationships!
Can't wait to see many of you.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Door Number Three

My best friend, Jeff "Freight Train" Knox, told me one day at lunch right before I began this whole journey, "God opens doors and it's our job to walk through them." Pretty powerful words from such a close confident. "By the way," he said just before he shoved a slice of pizza in his mouth, "I've trademarked that saying, so you can't use it! I'm probably going to use it in a book title or motivational speaking seminar."
Moving along with this analogy, I woke up this morning thinking that I had only two doors to walk through: one leading to Afghanistan and the other leading back home. However, to my surprise a third door flew wide open this evening and I just ran right through it. This one still leads to Afghanistan, but with a pit stop in Knoxville!
In short, I'm still getting released from active duty; however, I'm being sent home to "recover" and rest so that my TSH levels can begin to normalize. As soon as I have a couple of lab tests that come back within the normal range, I will be medically cleared to proceed with the deployment. I think it should take roughly 4 weeks to get back to normal. As soon as I'm cleared, I will head down to Ft Benning, GA for a 5-7 day mobilization course and then head over to Afghanistan to meet up with the rest of my unit. If this timeline holds tight, I will only be a week or two behind them.
The greatest part of this whole situation is that I'm getting a lot of quality time with the family! The thought of going the rest of the year without seeing them was starting to tear me apart inside, so it's truly a blessing from God that I'm getting this opportunity. However, all this is dependent on my health. So, please continue to pray for us throughout this process. It will be tough leaving the guys, but great to be reunited with the family for a while.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. Take care and I look forward to seeing many of you in the very near future!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm A No-Go

In a post last week, I mentioned that my thyroid disease might hinder my ability to deploy. Despite lab results coming back normal last week, the doctors decided to have another test done this week, in hopes of confirming that my levels were back to normal. Today, my worst fears came to life when they told me that lab results showed severe hypothyroidism. On a regular basis, a person's TSH level (don't ask me what they means) ranges between .34 and 5.6. Currently, mine are at 15. As a result, I have been recommended for REFRAD (release from active duty).
As previously stated, I have felt a strong conviction to go on another deployment and I believe I have been following God's will for my life up to this point. However, unless the highest ranking Army medical officer at Fort Dix gives me a waiver to deploy, I will be released from active duty and sent home to recover and get my body back to normal. The only problem is, my body probably won't ever be back to normal! Sure my levels might begin to normalize, but the chances of having an extended period of time with normal levels is highly unlikely, especially when participating in such intensive combat training (which, by the way, I've been able to complete without any problem!).
Although I firmly believe my life is always in God's hands, up to this point I've done pretty much all I can do and will await the final decision. I will continue to keep everyone abreast of the situation. Please just pray for peace, comfort and strength, regardless of the outcome. God is great and so is his will. All I can do now is conform to it.