Exciting. Romantic. Frustrating. Annoying. Proud. Struggle. Patriotic. A roller-coaster ride.
There are about 20.4 million U.S. veterans, and each of them has been impacted by their time in service. Talk to a handful and you’ll hear many similar stories and feelings, but each one also has been touched personally by their time in the military. Some emerge stronger, more resilient and proud, but at the same time they may be wounded (mentally or physically) and have hidden battles within, which can impact their relationships with others.
My husband and I were both in the Army National Guard. Then in 2008, following our first deployment to Iraq and struggling to find a good paying civilian job during the height of the recession, he chose to switch to active duty Army. I was excited because I’ve always loved an adventure, but it was a struggle at first and still can be at times. Over the past ten years of marriage my husband has deployed two more times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. We’ve moved six times. I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I served in the Guard for five more years. We had an amazing little girl who is now 6 years old! Needless to say we’ve made some wonderful memories and endured some very difficult trials together.
Through my own experience I have learned that being in a relationship with a veteran has its ups and downs. So many factors come in to play such as; if you were with your veteran during his/her time in service or if you met him/her after, the severity of any injuries incurred, what the veteran experienced during their time in, and the list goes on. All of this also affects your level of understanding what they’ve been through. No two experiences are exactly the same, so I cannot pretend to act like my situation or my view of things will be the same as yours. However, every marriage has its mountains and its valleys, regardless of you or your partner’s career or background. With Valentine’s day upon us, I would like to share with you a few things I have learned.
Don’t underestimate the importance of weekly/monthly date night, especially if you have kids! Staying connected is incredibly important. Try doing things you don’t usually do together, like going to the shooting range, exploring antique stores, strolling through the park, or making a dessert together at home and playing cards. You may discover new things about yourselves and strengthen your connection.
You may not be able to change your partner, but you can change the way you respond. My husband looks at things in a very systematic way. When he was struggling with depression he wanted to know; what the next step was, when exactly could he expect the medication to start working, why did it feel like the treatment was not working fast enough, etc. At other times he can be very calm, cool, and collected. Whereas, I tend to get more emotional about things. Empathizing with him and reflecting on his thoughts and feelings helps me to respond to him appropriately. It also helps me calm my frustrations when my way of thinking doesn’t line up with his. Sometimes all it takes is a calm response to a situation to completely change the poor direction it was heading.
Nothing can replace the camaraderie that was shared with fellow service members. We recently had a 10-year reunion with a bunch of guys and gals who served in the National Guard during our first deployment to Iraq. We spent all weekend telling stories and joking about our time together and catching up on where everyone is now. It was a blast! There are things from my time in service that I would like to forget, but there are many more good memories that I want to remember forever. The bond that is forged during intense times when you’re all “in the suck” together, cannot be replicated. This is an aspect of a veteran’s life that could be difficult for civilian spouses and family members to grasp. It is essential to understand this aspect of the veteran experience and know that your relationship is important too.
The grass IS NOT greener on the other side. Sometimes it may be tempting to think so, but that grass on the other side is fake, plastic, painted, and won’t last. It may be tempting to think that things may be easier if ___________ (fill in the blank). That is not reality. Marriage takes effort, a lot of effort. Try putting all your effort and energy into fertilizing, watering and caring for the grass you have. Start by taking steps in the right direction and look for the good in your relationship.
Communication is key. Change is inevitable. Be supportive. Seek support. So oftentimes in relationships we make assumptions, but that tends to work against us. Ask questions. Listen to your veteran. Share your thoughts, dreams, hopes, and fears with them. Talk about your future. Talk about your needs. Be open to changes that life throws at you. You are not the exact same as you were when you were a teenager, nor will you be the same when you are 60 that you are at 35. Same goes for your partner, times changes us all. Adapt to changes in your life together. Lean on each other.
I acknowledge that there are couples and families that are encountering or have been through much more challenging circumstances. Illness, injury, side effects from medication, and mental health struggles are all things that can complicate our relationships. Good medical care and solid social supports are critical in these situations. It is important to remember that all relationships are a work in progress, and no one is perfect. No relationship is perfect. Be kind to yourself and enjoy your journey. “A great relationship is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
This blog entry was written by Sheri Beck, Bastion's Director of Organizational Development.
2018 is finally here, and at Bastion we are back to work creating a bigger, better, and healthier community! For those of you who haven't noticed, our hard hats are back on! Bastion has began construction on 20 additional units, and we look forward to welcoming our new families this summer!
A new year means a new look! The Wellness Center is getting a makeover soon, with the help of an interior designer who will help us integrate a welcoming spirit of wellness into our community! This year you can also look forward to more yoga classes, mind body skills groups, and fitness programming! So be on the look out for announcements in the newly dedicated Purple Heart Room sponsored by Red River in the Wellness Center!
Until then you can mark your calendars for the following events:
January 13, 2018 Volunteer Opportunity with the Mission Continues
(more info here)
February 1, 2018 The New Orleans Veterans Transition Workshop
(more info here)
March 31, 2018 Crescent City Classic 2018
(more info here)
May 12, 2018 Four Play- Quads Volleyball Tournament
more info to come
Weekly events (more coming soon!)
Resident Social - (Each Tuesday @6:00pm)
Yoga with Jason Davey- Every Friday @ 5:30pm (moved from Thursdays at 6:00)
Come see the transformation for yourself!
The holidays are in full swing at the Bastion Community! During the month of December we had two Christmas parties in the Wellness Center! The atmosphere was festive as residents, staff, and supporters came together to celebrate. For both events, each child, ranging from 3 months to 16 years old, went home with a gift and a goody bag. Everyone was all smiles as treats were passed around and the children played.
We want to send a huge thanks to all those who donated and/or organized festivities, including: Quintella Stills, Yolanda Patterson, Hector Maes, Charise Jerve, Ashley and Khloe Fleming, Ms. Sylvia, The Massengale Family, The Seaman Family, The Eustis Family, The Fitzpatrick Family, The Butler Family, The Villere Family, The Bush Family, The Montgomery Family, The Hooper Family, The Mann Family, Ms. Phyllis Taylor and staff, American Red Cross, and more who all pitched in to make the events successful! We can't wait to see what's in store for 2018!
Couldn't make it? See pictures of the festivities below.
As the seasons change and the weather shifts, checking in and ensuring your winter wellness routine is in good shape is always a good idea. If you are in the northern hemisphere, the days are shortening and the evenings feel even shorter. It is important to recognize the challenges your normal wellness routine may have in the winter months, so you can adapt and overcome.
If you are willing to try something new (or again), I would recommend yoga.
I enjoy a yoga practice year-round, but I admit it can be challenging during south Louisiana summers because of a yogic idea tapas, which means “to build heat/burn”. Tapas warms the body, and during the winter months is an added benefit. It seems every month there is a new study that validates yoga as a wellness method, but the Yogis have always known this. The most important aspect of yoga is the self-identification of the effect yoga has on you. If yoga doesn’t work for you, don’t do it.
Yoga has great benefits to all who practice it and is an excellent supplement to existing wellness routines. Yoga is also a great way to transition from inactivity to a new wellness routine. Yoga also has many different styles and I encourage you to try several classes and teachers before you give up on it. Yoga is an effective method to building wellness in the mind and body, but yoga is not magic. Yoga requires effort. Pattabhi Jois, one of the founders of Vinyasa Yoga said, “yoga is 99% effort and 1% theory”.
Yoga exists in most corners of the US and around the world. Look for classes in yoga studios, community centers, fitness clubs, and through organizations to promote wellness like Bastion Community. Bastion, 1901 Mirabeau Avenue in New Orleans, has yoga every Thursday at 6:30pm. When the days are longer, there is an outdoor vinyasa (movement linked with breath) yoga class with Marion, and year-round, there is an indoor chair yoga class that is accessible to anyone with Jason. The classes are free and geared towards veterans, but yoga is for everyone, and everyone is welcome.
Jason Davey is a Kansas native, Marine Corps Combat Veteran, and community yoga teacher. He is also the founder of NolaSeva.org, a nonprofit org dedicated to bringing wellness to the community through yoga. Jason and Nola Seva believe that yoga is for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
Bastion held it's first annual Evening of Appreciation event on November 9, 2017! The theme of the night was gratitude, as residents, staff, and a wide range of supporters gathered together in mutual thanks for the Bastion Community. Entertainment was provided by the musical styling of Dr. Brice Miller and his band, whose jazz melodies flowed throughout the night. Guests also enjoyed a cigar rolling station, a bar and lounge area, passed appetizers, Bastion home tours, and even a children's play and food station. A notable moment from the night includes a speech from Bastion's Executive Director and Founder, Dylan Tête, stating that, "gratitude has a way of attracting more gratitude. It builds on itself and it builds and builds until there is a Bastion." Needless to say, our community has so much to be thankful for and the first annual Evening of Appreciation was truly a night to remember.
Our staff would like to take a moment to thank everyone who played a role in creating our special community. Bastion would not be possible without your support, generous donations, and veterans to serve. We’d also like to thank our volunteers for being so generous with their time, to Brice Miller Entertainment for creating the beautiful ambiance, to ILEA New Orleans for being the most amazing partner in making this event a success, to our amazing speakers - Christine Lemoine, Brandon Dorrington, and Michael Pitre, and last but not least to our sponsors for enabling us to dedicate an evening that was truly just for appreciation. Thank you.
Sponsors: UBS, Humana, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, Kappa Designs LLC, Just Ask Rental, George Kuchler Photography, Big Easy Event Rentals, River Parish Disposal, BRG and Boucherie Catering!
We cant wait to see you next year!
Want to relive the excitement? Leave comments and scroll below!
It was not too long ago on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, that Bastion Community of Resilience broke ground as the nation’s first intentionally designed neighborhood for returning warriors and families with lifelong rehabilitative needs. Since then, Bastion has continued to thrive and is home to 73 residents, who have over 196 years of combined military service!
As our community grows, Bastion offers this blog as a resource for all! Here, you can find out about Bastion events, wellness tips, and day to day life in the community! This post is the first of many, check us out each month for content dedicated to warriors, caregivers, volunteers, Bastion residents and more. As a Bastion our community stands to defend, protect, and serve. Our team is dedicated to fulfilling our mission and we are excited for the journey ahead!
The Bastion Team!
Mark your Calendars!
Residents, please join us for the following events:
Every Monday and Wednesday @12 pm - Lunchtime Meditation
Every Tuesday @ 6pm - Resident Social Hour
Every Thursday @ 6:30pm - Warrior Yoga
The third Friday of every month @9:30 am - Coffee with the Staff
If you would like to attend any of these events please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
City Wide Events:
November 28th- #GivingTuesday
March 31st- Crescent City Classic 10K
May 12th- Four Play Quads Volleyball Tournament
You can find detailed information about these events here