Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday After the Shooting

I've come to the conclusion that everyone deals with stress in their own way ... and that there are many 'right' and 'wrong' ways to do that. I have also discovered about myself that I tend to deal with immediate stress fairly well. Tragedies bring about a calm in me that seems uncharacteristic for my highly emotional normal self. I can make good decisions, help others, and present a reassuring demeanor on command. I think clearly and do not show any signs of panic in the heat of the moment.

But when the heat of the moment has cooled ... it's an entirely different story. After the danger is gone, the stress sets in. When my family and I spent the afternoon on Fort Hood on Thursday, there were wild rumors and inaccurate reports flying about. The news channels continually blared information about a shooter (or shooters) on post, reported shots fired in several additional locations, and detailed information about the entire post being on "lock down."

It was a stressful environment, not knowing what was going on, who might be next, and who had already been affected. Strangely, though, I did not feel the stress during the afternoon. I was able to talk Pokémon with my sons, chat with others in the clinic, and enjoy the fact that I was with my husband. Yes, it was tense, but I didn't feel the panic, fear, and stress that came later.

For me, today was the tough day. We're hearing the names of those killed and wounded, learning more about the shooter, and re-hashing the events of the day with friends around post. I learned today that a friend's battalion was largely affected by the shooting. They lost four Soldiers and have another eleven Soldiers being treated in local hospitals. My friend has spent the past hours volunteering as part of a CARE Team ... comforting Families who lost their Soldier in the attack, delivering food prepared for the Families, and organizing others who want to help. I felt my heart breaking all over again as I associated the actual Families affected with the more generic newscasts of the past days.

We spent the first half of the day today with lots of Army friends. An early-morning soccer game (where all the kids are Army kids and all the parents are friends) was followed by an end-of-season party, both of which allowed us some time to talk with others, get their perspective on the events of Thursday, and gain more personal accounts of the day. Afterwards, our kids had a fun event at church and my husband and I spent the afternoon together, having lunch and preparing for an upcoming camping trip.

Because the events of today were so mild, I was surprised at the physical strain I felt. I nursed a tension headache all day and felt exhausted by lunchtime. When we returned home, I decided to rest for a bit and ended up sleeping for three solid hours. I am now (finally?) showing signs of stress. Luckily, I have a fabulous husband who spent the afternoon entertaining our boys and was working on dinner when I woke from my nap. I have good friends and lots of support. I know I’ll be okay … and I wasn’t even directly impacted by this tragedy.

I sign off tonight with a plea for prayers for those who actually were directly impacted, who are experiencing a stress tonight that I cannot even imagine, and who have lost a large part of their support system. I will keep these Families in my prayers tonight and thank all of you who are doing the same. It’s true that our Army Family and our nation rallies around those in need and I am appreciative of that tonight.

A favorite quote from GEN Casey this week:
"The stories of courage and heroism I heard [about Fort Hood] make me proud to be a leader of this great Army. I am very proud, not only of the men and women here at Fort Hood, but of our whole Army. We take care of our own, we will grieve as a family, and we will maintain our focus on our missions around the world."

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