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In 2013, Shealynn Casserly was deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic. Three months later, she went through a life-altering experience.

She was out with engineers doing routine clearance early in the morning. She remembers the sky being a beautiful indigo blue as it was just starting to get light and that they were making trivial conversation when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED). Casserly was thrown 40 feet, so far that the other soldiers had to search for her.

[rebelmouse-image 19533252 dam="1" original_size="640x380" caption="What it looks like when a military vehicle hits an IED. Photo via U.S. Army/Flickr." expand=1]What it looks like when a military vehicle hits an IED. Photo via U.S. Army/Flickr.


Later, she was told she had been lucid enough to help the soldiers assess and preliminarily care for her multiple injuries, but she has no memory of that. After the explosion, the next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed three days later with her brother beside her.

"I saw a lot of white, and just from that, I knew I wasn't in Afghanistan anymore; it was clean, not tan and dusty," Casserly recalls.

Casserly had been airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She'd suffered a number of serious injuries, including a broken jaw, broken eye socket, broken hand, seven broken ribs, a perforated ear drum, two broken femurs, and a dislocated left knee. While in recovery, part of her intestines exploded due to a bowel obstruction and had to be repaired. She also had a traumatic brain injury.

Over the next five years, Casserly underwent over 60 surgeries to repair her damaged body. But the work she had to do on her mind was a different story altogether.

Shealynn in recovery. Photo via Shealynn Casserly.

"For the first two months, I didn't even know if I had legs," Casserly says.

Casserly was confined to a hospital bed, unable to even turn over without assistance. She was averaging three to four surgeries a week and was often in and out of consciousness because the initial recovery period was so painful.

The first time she actually took a breath of air outside was that July two months after the accident. It was 100 degrees in D.C., and she was able to go to Walter Reed's rooftop garden by operating an electric wheelchair with her uninjured hand.

Unsurprisingly, all this took quite a toll on her mental state. While she had constant support from her mom and brother (who spent those first four months of Casserly's recovery sleeping next to her bed), she couldn't shake the depression welling up inside her.

"I was just so overwhelmed mentally and physically," Casserly remembers.

She was also so focused on her physical recuperation that she didn't realize what the experience was doing to her mind until her surgeries started to die down.

Shealynn Casserly. Photo via Shealynn Casserly, used with permission.

Eventually, Casserly hit a real low point, where she started contemplating suicide — an effect of post-traumatic stress disorder that's all too common in veterans.

In fact, women who've served are 2.4 times more likely to commit suicide than a female civilian. And that rate has increased over 85% since 2001.

"Unless you've been there, you don't realize how low people can feel," Casserly says.

Determined to climb out of her depression somehow, Casserly started a hardcore workout regimen. She knew that exercising produces endorphins that can elevate mood, so once she had gotten to a point in her recovery where she could handle some physical activity, she got moving.

At the end of that year, she and her brother were going to the gym six hours a day every day for weeks.

She was afraid at first that it wasn't making any difference, but then she woke up one day and felt legitimately good for the first time since the accident.

"I called my mom and said, 'I feel like how I used to feel,'" Casserly recalls.

Never wanting to hit such a low point again, Casserly has kept up her rigorous workout schedule and even added in some sports competitions.

[rebelmouse-image 19533255 dam="1" original_size="640x359" caption="Casserly practicing the shot put for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at West Point. Photo by Angelique Jefferson/U.S. Army." expand=1]Casserly practicing the shot put for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at West Point. Photo by Angelique Jefferson/U.S. Army.

In 2016, she competed in the Department of Defense Warrior Games, where she tried her hand at things like shot put and discus. She also did some snowboarding at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and has since continued to explore adaptive sports.

Through her athletic endeavors, she's made a lot of friends; she even met her boyfriend, Derek Gamez, at Walter Reed's base gym. He has become another incredible support system for her.

That said, her mental and physical recovery is an ongoing process. It's not always easy, but she continues to push herself forward.

Shealynn in physical therapy. Photo via Shealynn Casserly.

Some days are lower than others, especially if she doesn't get to exercise. She also recognizes that her experience has changed her — mostly for the better.

Casserly felt like she used to come across as a pushover, but thanks to all she's gone through, she's now much more vocal when it comes to her mental and emotional health. And she's actively looking for ways to help other injured vets who might be struggling through their recovery.

"I want to use what's happened to me to benefit other people," she says.

While she says she's not the best at speaking in front of a crowd, Casserly has been able to talk with fellow vets one on one about what they're going through and empathize in a meaningful way.

When emotional pain goes unnoticed it can have detrimental impacts just the same as physical pain. But hopefully, with vets like Casserly telling their stories, more vets who are suffering silently will feel like they, too, can ask for help.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

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Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”