Served in the military? Record your DD-214


Ever wonder why you hear of so many veterans being denied treatment at their local VA? Or why there are so many homeless veterans? Certainly if you fight for your country, put your life in danger multiple times for their freedom, you should automatically be set the rest of your life.

Well, in a way that’s true. When I got separated from the Army one of the last things my platoon sergeant told me to do was to bring all my medical records and DD-214 to the local courthouse when I get back home. He informed me on how important all the information was.

“If you lose those records, it’ll be like you were never in the military,” My sergeant said, ” You’ll have no record of going to war, no record of fighting on the front lines. So when you get out you go there immediately, its in your best interest”

I thanked him for the advice. I never knew that there was such a gap between the military and civilian world. I always thought everything I did was recorded somewhere in a computer, filed away forever for whenever I wanted to request them. I thought I just had copies. No one else had said a word to me about it, I guess my sergeant was the only one that cared.

I listened to him and filed my records with the county and I brought my medical files to the local VA Hospital where, still this day, I receive free treatment for the multitude of problems that keep popping up physically and mentally from the war. If I didn’t have those files when my chronic pain and flashbacks started, I would have never been seen at the hospital.

To take it even further, I would have never been able to receive compensation from the VA and I would for sure be homeless. I have been medically retired from work about three years now and I’m living off my compensation. I’m the backbone of my family now, my wife and daughter depend on me for food and shelter and I wouldn’t be able to provide for them if I didn’t have record of being a medic in Iraq.

So if you didn’t know how important it was, now you do. Spread the word to your friends and family to let them know to go file their records with their local veteran service office and VA hospital because they never know what could happen to them down the road. They just might lose out on the benefits that are due to them and slip through the cracks like many veterans do.

Record

Served in the military? Record your DD-214 before you lose proof of service


Ever wonder why you hear of so many veterans being denied treatment at their local VA? Or why there are so many homeless veterans? Certainly if you fight for your country, put your life in danger multiple times for their freedom, you should automatically be set the rest of your life.

Well, in a way that’s true. When I got separated from the Army one of the last things my platoon sergeant told me to do was to bring all my medical records and DD-214 to the local courthouse when I get back home. He informed me on how important all the information was.

“If you lose those records, it’ll be like you were never in the military,” My sergeant said, ” You’ll have no record of going to war, no record of fighting on the front lines. So when you get out you go there immediately, its in your best interest”

I thanked him for the advice. I never knew that there was such a gap between the military and civilian world. I always thought everything I did was recorded somewhere in a computer, filed away forever for whenever I wanted to request them. I thought I just had copies. No one else had said a word to me about it, I guess my sergeant was the only one that cared.

I listened to him and filed my records with the county and I brought my medical files to the local VA Hospital where, still this day, I receive free treatment for the multitude of problems that keep popping up physically and mentally from the war. If I didn’t have those files when my chronic pain and flashbacks started, I would have never been seen at the hospital.

To take it even further, I would have never been able to receive compensation from the VA and I would for sure be homeless. I have been medically retired from work about three years now and I’m living off my compensation. I’m the backbone of my family now, my wife and daughter depend on me for food and shelter and I wouldn’t be able to provide for them if I didn’t have record of being a medic in Iraq.

So if you didn’t know how important it was, now you do. Spread the word to your friends and family to let them know to go file their records with their local veteran service office and VA hospital because they never know what could happen to them down the road. They just might lose out on the benefits that are due to them and slip through the cracks like many veterans do.

Record

Hero of the Pack (Video Enhanced)

I have to say I’m so grateful with everything that God is doing with my life right now. It hasn’t been a year since I’ve published my book Combat Medic and I’ve already started making an impact within my community. It is my goal to inform the nation on the signs and symptoms of PTSD to hopefully cut the rate of veteran suicide, which is at an all time high of over 22 a day.

I was honored at the Timberwolves on Valentines day for my work with the non-profit organization Pain Free Patriots. I’ve had chronic pain for the last twelve years since leaving the military, over 44% of veterans develop chronic pain after they leave the military. While I was promoting my book I ran into a representative from Pain Free Patriots, he told me he would give me a free grant to their program to get pain-free. I hadn’t had a day for twelve years without extreme back pain, so I kind of laughed in his face.

I gave it a try though. The program was 5 months long, but in the first two weeks my pain was reduced by 80%. It felt like my prayers were answered. I must be doing something right for it to happen to me.Ever since then I’ve helped them with whatever they needed from me to represent the organization in order to get more donations so the program grow.

I guess it’s been paying off because I got a call from them saying that the Timberwolves wanted to honor me for the work I’ve been doing within the community. The stadium was packed full of people because they were playing against the 2016 champs the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was an incredible experience that would have never happened if I hadn’t listened to God and wrote my book. I know if this happened within a year there is no telling how far my voice will go in 5 years.

Hero of the Pack (Video)

I’m so grateful with everything that God is doing with my life right now. It hasn’t been a year since I’ve published my book Combat Medic and I’ve already started making an impact within my community. It is my goal to inform the nation on the signs and symptoms of PTSD to hopefully cut the rate of veteran suicide, which is at an all time high of over 22 a day.

 

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Combat Medic
A soldier’s story of the Iraq war and PTSD

Lesson # 1: Letter To My Younger self


During a meeting with my life coach from Project Delta I got an assignment to write a letter to my younger self. The logic behind it is that it would help me put away horrible memories so I can get over the effects they have on my life. It’s not a magic trick that will make me forget what happened, it just helps me fill it away in the cabinet of useless information.

When writing the letter I couldn’t talk about an incident directly, I just had to write words of encouragement to let my younger self know everything will be alright in the future. I chose to write to my eight year old self right after my mom decided to move out of the house while her husband and three children were at Disney world.IMG_0380

I remember coming home and wondering where mom was, including half the stuff that used to be in the house. After my Dad explained what was going on, I can’t remember how long I cried for, I just remember the world being so dark uncomfortable. My chest burned in agony, that was the first time in my life I felt like my heart was being stabbed in pulled through my throat. I imagined my present self walking slowly on the creaky floorboards  inside that sesame street wallpaper room toward the whimpering sound of myself crying through the cracked closet door. As I open the door, my heart starts pouring out to him:

“Hey mini me! What are you looking so upset for. It’s done, they’re gone; you’re going to have to grow up and start looking out for yourself. It’s going to be a long, tough road. At times your going to want to quit so bad that death seems like a gift from heaven, but I’m here to tell you that if you can do more than you can imagine. Death is never the option because death halts life experiences and believe me, God wants you to experience an abundance of life. Trust me.”

“One day your mom is going to leave you again. The pain and hurt that follows isn’t because of what you did, she is just human and we all can make mistakes to get out of a rough situation. God never gives you anything you can’t handle. After that heart ache your Dad is going to move you away with him and help you achieve a sound mind and body. You’re going to learn how to stay healthy and you will be as handsome of a man as King David was.”

“You will go to fight in hell and come back a changed person once you graduate high school. I can’t tell you if the change is good or bad, it always fluctuates. I can guarantee to you that it’s an experience that few survive and non-forgets. Just remember, when the world starts crumbling down around you and the war inside seems like it’ll never go away, it won’t, but it will get easier. You will become strong with the powerful word of God. You will go out into the world with an affliction to save the lives of veterans with the same wounds.”

“Most of all, keep praying like grandma taught you to. Prayer will get you through the worst situations. Never let anyone tell you that your relationship with God is false because he is the realist thing in this life. No one can save you in the darkness except for the great I Am. Never give up hope that life won’t turn out well, because you are abundantly blessed and your life has just begun.”

Yours truly, S.M.Boney IV

A Soul Infused With Tank

One Horrible Trait (2 min. read)


Today I’ll start out by saying I’ve never felt more alive than I have with my buddy Tank. Just a year ago I was having anxiety attacks overtime I left my house, so I just stayed inside as much as I could. I couldn’t go out by myself because my mind would play tricks on me, causing me flashbacks that would send my mood spiraling out of control.

Since having my buddy around, I don’t get caught up in the unexpected anymore because he keeps me grounded. Now when I’m in public and I feel like overwhelmed all I have to do is reach down and pet Tank. His soft fur and baby brown eyes always grabs my attention and everything else seems to fade away.IMG_0312

I wish I could have Tank forever. Sadly, after three months of training I’ve found that he isn’t the right dog for the job, here’s why.

A week ago I had to go into my chiropractor office to get some work done. When we first got there, Tank was fine. I signed in and took a seat, Tank laid down next to me. When my doctor came around the corner and looked at me, Tank got upset and started growling at him. I told him to stop as I stood up to shake his hand.

After I was done on a back stretching machine, my doctor came into the dimly lit room and walked over to unstrap me. Tank started growling ferociously at him again. I pulled him close to me and held onto his collar so that the doctor could unstrap me because he wouldn’t quit. When I got up, I stood over to the side of the doctor. Tank went quite so I released his collar and held onto his leash, but within a second he lunged towards the doctor and nipped at him.

If my doctor wouldn’t have jumped back Tank would have taken a bit of his leg instead of his pants. I was in total shock with what happened and I apologized profusely. When we walked out of the office I didn’t want to look at Tank. I’ve never seen him act so violently towards someone.

Quite honestly I was scared; not of Tank, but for him. If he would have bitten my doctor he would be put down. Before this had happened, I didn’t think he could be so aggressive, he acts like a baby any other time, so what happened?

I talked with my trainer Lindsay and told her what happen. She let me know that I shouldn’t take him into public again until she can see his reaction. I want to say I listened to her, but I had appointments and shopping to do so I kept bringing him with me.

One day while I was at the VA hospital talking to one of my friends, Tank lunged at him when he was coming in to shake my hand. He put his jaws around his hand but didn’t bit down. Other than scaring my friend half to death, nothing serious happened. It was at that moment where I started to worry about bringing him anywhere.

I met up with Lindsay at the mall one evening so she could see what Tank does. She had her husband try to provoke Tank by walking by us. Tank didn’t react the first two times, but the third time when he walked up slowly behind me and started to place his hand on my shoulder, Tank went manic.

He started barking nonstop, lunging at her husband with everything he had. It took a lot for me to hold him back. Even after Lindsay walked up and introduced her husband to Tank, with treats, he still wouldn’t stop barking. I walked off with him to calm him down, but every person that passed us seemed to provoke a bad response out of him.

Lindsay didn’t like what she saw at all. It didn’t take long for her to make the vision to stop training him to be a service dog because this was the dog he really was. She said that our bond is so strong that he fells it necessary to be over protective of me.

“There was no way we could have known he would be like this” she  told me. Something inside of me shattered at hearing that. I thought for sure Tank was going to be with me forever, or at least until he passed on to doggy heaven. To think after months of training everything is over for us.IMG_0311

Lindsay explained to me that not every dog makes it through training. There is actually only a 40 percent pass rate for service dogs.

I have a lot to think over the next two weeks. I have to figure out if Tank will stay with us while I try to train another dog or am I going to give him up for adoption. It’s so hard to even think about him not being with us anymore. Tank is so intertwined with me and my family, he is loved beyond words. But, I need a service dog for the goals I want to accomplish.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s caused quite a controversy in my household. It seems like every day since I told my family about the situation we start to argue about what we should do. My daughter was literally in tears over this. She even told me I don’t care about Tank.

If only she knew how much he meant to me. I’m already starting to feel a difference with him not next to me all the time.

I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore.
Controversy

God’s Orchestration of our Small World


First, let me start out with some good news. A couple of months back when I was at the Minnesota State Fair promoting my book I ran into an old friend of my dads. While I was drinking a beer flight an older man asked if he could stand at the table with me, I told him sure and then I started a conversation up with a different guy standing next to us.

After I gave this guy my card and told him my name, the older man asked if I would take a picture of him for his wife. After snapping a picture he asked for my card as well so he could grab my book too.

A couple of weeks pass before I receive an e-mail from the gentleman. Come to find out about 25 years ago my dad sang at this guys wedding, CRAZY RIGHT!? His wife used to work with my dad at Pillsbury and he wanted to get in contact with my dad to catch up on life.

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My parents at the wedding 25 years ago
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My dad and with bride and groom

After giving him my dads info he sends me another e-mail two weeks later with actual pictures of my parents at their wedding.

He let me know that he read my book and he loved it then he invited me to speak at his organizations monthly meeting. I felt like this was the reason why we ran into each other, like God somehow orchestrated us drinking beer at the same place and time so I could share my story with more people. I accepted his offer and threw together a presentation for the Chaska Rotary Club which included pictures of me from war.

The speech went well to say the least. I felt more confidant standing in front of that group than I ever have in life. Having Tank next to me laying on the floor gave me the security I needed to get through my speech without heightening my anxiety. I finally understood what my trainer said about Tank being a tool and not a fix.

When the audience gave me a standing ovation, I finally felt like I was making progress in life again. With the tools that God has given me, I  can start accomplishing the goals that are most important in my life. It was exactly what I needed to push out into the world to spread my testimony to help combat veterans who are struggling like me.

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Tank and I standing with my dad’s friends Ken and Barb

I was extremely proud of how calm Tank was with everyone clapping and walking up to shake my hand. Because of him I was able to sell out of all the books I brought as well as connect with multiple people who have friends and family in the military that need advice on how to handle someone with PTSD. The main reason why I wrote my book was to connect with other veterans to be a positive influence for them so they know they’re not alone in the fight and that change can always happen, they just need to want it more than anything else in life. Check out Rotary, Jan 12, 2017 for my feature in the newsletter.

Beating suicide

How to: Beat Suicide (3 min.)


Happy new year everyone! This year started off with a bang for me. I got free tickets to the Katt Williams show on New Years eve. I brought my wife and my friend with his wife. The show was hilarious, a bit vulgar at times, but hilarious.

I had second thoughts about bringing my church friends to the show as soon as the first comedian came out and the smell of marijuana filled the arena. Ha! But seriously it was ridiculous. If the comedian wasn’t as funny as he was I think my wife would have called it an evening. Katt Williams is a funny guy in person though. Very short with a mouth like a sailor. I tried to get a good picture of him but there were too many lights.

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This is the best picture of Katt Williams that I could get!
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( From the left) My Friends Leo and Stacy Ballard, my wife Jessica and I at the Katt Williams show.

I had to leave Tank at home with Aleah and my mother-in-law. By the time we got home he was passed out on top of the stairs. We walked through the door around 11 and I saw his head shoot up with eyes locked onto me. I swear he hates it when I leave him, especially for so long. He ran down the stairs just to lick my hand then ran back up and hopped into his bed. He was snoring long before I changed into my PJ’s and hopped into bed.

Public access training is getting easier each time we train. I’ve had Tank next to my side ever since he got his vest. Lindsay has moved our training from Target and Lowes to the Ridgedale mall. A big leap so fast, I know, but Lindsay said that we have a strong bond and she thought we were ready to move along faster and I trust her.

The first day we went was a little overwhelming for me. Even though it was in the morning and there weren’t a lot of people, the space and random noises and people was enough to make my anxiety sky-rocket.

Tank did his job well though. While my head was growing foggy and heavy I felt a heavy nudge on my right leg. I looked down to see Tank with his head resting against my leg staring up at me with puppy dog eyes. I couldn’t help but to snap out of whatever was going on in my head to reach down and pet him. It didn’t take long for my anxiety to calm down. Lindsay saw what had happened and gave Tank applause for a job well done.

After going a few times with Lindsay, I took Tank on my own to practice. I had to get my wife a gift for her birthday so it was a perfect excuse to go. It went well, we were in and out without any interruptions. I would have been in a better place if I got Tank a few years ago. He feels like a part of me now, we move in one fluid motion when walking. I give him cues without even thinking anymore.

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I finally got him to look up. HA!

I’ve been happier than usual lately. It’s weird that I even notice it, but its like I don’t have to worry about everything anymore because I’m giving Tank most of my worries, expecting him to warn me if anything is happening, so I think that I’m enjoying life a little more because of him. I haven’t yelled at anyone in a long time, even when I’m driving I tend to stay calmer with Tank.

I don’t usually open up to people about my emotions and how I feel about things because I learned in the Army that it doesn’t matter in the long run. I think that is one thing veterans that struggle with PTSD like me has a hard time doing and that causes us to go through with extreme measures to get better, like drinking until we pass out, using drugs so we won’t dream, and suicide because we feel alone in our struggle.

I’ve struggled with the thought of suicide since leaving the Army in 2006, I even planed it out a few times. The only thing that was holding me back was the fact that I had a loving girlfriend and Daughter that wouldn’t let me be alone.

Since getting Tank, I haven’t thought of suicide even once. I think I haven’t noticed until now because I was in transition with having Tank and Training him all the time. I think God’s giving me the tools I need to reconnect with my emotions, who I used to be, so I can help other veterans get out of the same abyss I was in. I’m starting to love life again thanks to the love God is pushing into my life.

Very Merry Christmas

It’s been a week since I sat down to write about Tank and I. To tell you the truth it’s been going so great with him I haven’t felt the need to say anything. I’ve been busy running around town buying christmas presents and getting the house ready for family to come over for christmas. December is always a chaotic month.

I’m really amazed at how well Tank and I have bonded. We’re in sync everywhere we go. He obeys my cues and watched my back when I need him. I’ve noticed that I’m not so busy being alert about my surroundings when I have him with me, which helps me stay calm and more focused on what I need to get done.

Our public access training with Lindsay has been going exceptionally well. Lindsay gives us  a lot of praise each day we train. She said we’re probably the easiest to work with and we’re excelling well beyond what is normal for the program. We’ve  been training at Target and the mall,  but I take him other places  because I hate the way I feel when he’s not with me.

The only thing that I worry about him is how protective he gets when people walk up on us suddenly, he starts barking at them and it takes me awhile to get him to calm down. He does it inside the car too, with every person that walks by the car when we’re parked. I’ve talked to Lindsay about it and she’s given me a few things to try. She said he just might be overwhelmed  and we might just be moving too fast for him, so I need to keep him home when it’s not necessary to bring him out.

Other than that life is pretty great. I have hope that I can get that side of Tank under control so we can take the certification test soon because I want to start promoting my book more and doing speeches so I’m going to need him, he’ll pull through. He’s getting along better with my wife and daughter too. They told me that Tank is part of the family know and that they love him just as much as me. I believe them, the mood in our house has changed since we got him. He keeps me in a stable mood which makes the girls happier, plus they get the added bonus of petting and playing with him too.

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Christmas is a time for Love, Peace, and family. It’s been well over a decade since I celebrated a christmas where I’ve truly been content with life. This christmas is special to me in so many ways it’s overwhelming sometimes. Wow, even writing it seems weird. I had darkness trapped inside of me for so long, it doesn’t feel normal to be happy or actually feel all. But now I’m feeling again and it makes my outlook on life better than ever. Tank was the key to helping me feel again, I love him for it.

 

 

Winter Blues

This past Friday was a busy day. I had appointments all day which forced me to leave Tank in his crate most of the day. I know he hates it so much, overtime I try putting him in his crate he tries to run away. I have to bribe him by sticking treats inside before he unwillingly decides to go in, lowering his head walking slowly towards the treats as I close the door behind him.

I had to drive forty minutes to the VA hospital to see my doctor so he could possibly change my sleeping medications because my nightmares and night sweats have been getting worse. It always takes forever to get to the hospital and back home. After three hours I was back home in time to let Tank out to pee. I pet him for a while before I had to leave again to go grocery shopping.

When I got back home and let Tank out the second time he was jumping all over me, overexcited about getting out of his crate. It had started to snow when I brought him out to go pee again. He rode with me to pick Aleah up from school. I’m proud of how well behaved he acts in the car at the school now. He has stopped whimpering while we sit in the car. He usually only barks and growls when we first arrive, then he lays down after I tell him to stop. He is such a smart dog because he picks up on cues and remembers his training.

Aleah is always so happy to see Tank when she opens the car door. Her face lights up instantly once they meet eyes. She quickly buckles up when she gets in and immediately starts petting his head. He likes it a lot and he’s pretty tame with her on the way back home.

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How Tank chooses to sleep after a long belly rub.

 

We ended up getting six inches of snow overnight with the temperature down to negative twelve below zero with a windchill of negative thirty. So as a family we decided to stay inside in our PJ’s all day Saturday and relax. I received Tanks booties early that morning which made me happy because know I don’t have to hear him holler out in pain from his paws freezing on the snow. I can tell he wants to walk around the neighborhood when I take him outside to pee, but it was just too cold to walk.

Sunday was thirty below zero, even a worse day to walk. I put Tank in his crate when I went to church in the morning. It was so cold, I was happy to get back home to get warm. I think the winter is getting to him. He seems depressed that he can’t stay outside, I see him staring out the window sulking over the damn winter while I’m sitting in the living room. he hates it when we go outside just to pee. He tries to walk down the driveway to start a walk but I always just go back inside. We walk plenty when its warm out. Last year I was up to eight miles a day, so he’ll get his fill this spring when we start back up. I guess humans and dogs have the same emotions about being stuck inside on long winter days. Only a few more weeks of cold before spring, seems so long away.