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These 3 Stories From Veterans Just Gutted Me. The First 2 Were Hard To Watch. The 3rd Is Beautiful.

The Iraq War seemed so far away for so many people that it's easy to forget about the thousands of real human beings who served, fought, and died. These stories, though ... they really bring it home. There's a unique, unsentimental power to each of them. It's hard not to walk away changed. First up: "1st Squad, 3rd Platoon." Lance Cpl. Travis Williams tells the difficult story of a rescue mission with his squad — and the devastating aftermath.

“It’s hard, because I feel guilty for being the one guy left, but I also feel a responsibility. I better make sure everybody knows who these guys were, what these guys did.” — Lance Cpl. Travis Williams

“I am most proud of not blowing my head off by now. It’s just a whole lot easier if you’re dead. But that shouldn’t be your tribute to your dead friends. When they’re looking down on you, they don’t want you to be living in the moment that killed them. You made it. You got home. You should honor their memory by living the life that they didn’t get to live.” — Lance Cpl. Travis Williams


Next, Spc. Justin Cliburn tells the lovely and tragic story of a group of Iraqi children he befriended and what it means to truly love someone who doesn't speak your language.

“This was the first time I felt like I loved someone that wasn’t my family member.” — Spc. Justin Cliburn

“I don’t know what came of him. That’s the nature of war, I suppose. But whenever I see any footage from Baghdad, I’m always kind of looking around wondering if he’s in the frame.” — Spc. Justin Cliburn

Finally, Vietnam veteran Allen Hoe recalls a deeply moving conversation he had with a trauma nurse who treated his son shortly before he died. After all the tears I shed watching these, the uplifting ending was so wonderful.

“Now I never have to wonder about those last final moments.” — Allen Hoe

Just beautiful.

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Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash (left), Kimberly Zapata (right)

Picking a psychiatrist is a precarious situation, one I know all too well. I have bipolar disorder, depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. I have been in and out of therapy for nearly 20 years. And while I have left doctors for a wide variety of reasons—I've moved, I felt better and "been better," I've given up on pharmacology and stopped taking meds—I've only had to fire one.

The reason? She was judgemental and disrespectful. In her office, I wasn't seen, heard or understood.

To help you understand the gravity of the situation, I should give you some context. In the spring of 2017, I was doing well and feeling good, at least for the most part. My family was healthy. I was happy, and life was more or less normal, so I stopped seeing my psychiatrist. I decided I didn't need my meds.

But by the summer, my mood was shifting. I was cycling (which occurs when bipolar patients vacillate between periods of mania and depression) and when I suffered a miscarriage that fall, I plunged into a deep depressive episode—one I knew I couldn't pull myself out of.

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As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

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While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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via Tania / Twitter

Therapy animals have become a controversial issue of recent, even though they've helped over 500,000 people overcome psychological and physical issues that have made it difficult to perform everyday tasks.

It's because countless people have tried to pass off their pets as service animals, making it hard for legitimate, trained animals to gain acceptance in public.

So when people hear about emotional support llamas, they're met with understandable cynicism. However, studies show they are great at helping children with autism spectrum disorder, and they are routinely used to cheer up people residents in retirement homes.

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