Friday, 21 December 2018

2018 - A Year in Transition and Trending UP

2018: I am pretty sure that this will be year that has highs and lows plastered all over everyone's calendars, journals and timelines. I am no different, as I am one messed up, grumpy veteran. The awesome news is that I am a little less grumpy (who am I kidding....a LOT less grumpy)...and both are trending towards getting even better. (My wife might disagree about that part).

Why and how? I am not completely sure.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

A Few Not So Random Thoughts

I am still quite angry with the treatment of veteran's issues by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), and by extension the government, as I ranted about in my last post.

Even worse because of stuff like this CRAP posted by CTV News. 

A few years ago, VAC couldn't cover service dogs for veterans because there was no national standard in place. Okay, so a group of stakeholders, including veterans who had been given service dogs through private charities, service animal providers, as well as VAC, got together and worked on a national standard. Just as it was being finished up, VAC walked away from that process. Apparently the standard wasn't good enough, no national overseer body to enforce the standard, stakeholders not working in good faith. The reasoning behind it doesn't matter. The current government walked away from that process.

Now they say they are waiting on the results on an US study that they already have?

Come on really? Time for the idiots running the show to give their head a shake.

How hard is it to look at veterans that have a service animal and see how well that animal works?

How much more money do you have to throw at studies for this?

Same thing for the whole medical marijuana issue, but hey...keep pushing all those medications that big pharma wants you to push.

Both work, all you need to do is look at the quality of life of veterans who use either. It is amazing to see the difference in the veterans I know personally that have either.

Speaking of money. That $372 million in budgeted funds unspent to the government? That's actually an improvement..not that long ago is $1 billion returned. Yet, THAT'S the fault of the veteran who aren't applying for programs??

Somehow I don't think so...not when you have to wait a year or more to find out if you qualify for a program. Well over a year more if you want to appeal a decision.

Its been a motivator of sorts.  I don't have the energy, the will or the desire to become some public advocate for veteran's issues. There are already some really good guys that are out there doing that already, and in a far better manner than I could ever do.

I need to find another route to contribute, and to feel like I am contributing in someway. I have been mulling over some ideas, then kind of got caught off guard by my wife's suggestions. I got voluntold twice.

Our youngest is attending the NB College of Craft and Design in their fashion program, nad has decided he want to start a YouTube video blog, where he discusses Canadian art, artists and fashion designers. My wife promptly decided I will handle all the "other know - like editing the video and uploading."  So apparently I need to learn some video editing skills. Worst part about it, the kid has the personality for it.

Second, grows out of the nebulous of an idea I have had for a bit, and it involves far more work for me. I have been thinking hard about getting being my own indie rpg writer/publisher. With the rise of the community content creation Guilds make this far easier through the OBS system. I need learn how to do layout and a bunch of other stuff as well.

Since I have been doing a lot of work with Campaign Cartographer, from ProFantasy software suite, not super competent with the platform yet but this is my more recent Map (hig rez). I have also have been experimenting with the Map Forge software, as well as Dungeon Painter Studio on Steam.

The crux of my wife's idea is create stuff - stories, maps adventures then sell those. (Nice to know I have her support and backing in something like this though.). Now thinking back to my that news story couple with my drive...that need that I stubbornly that I need to feel like I am contributing to something bigger than myself. To me this includes contributing to the household.

I see two possibilities in front of me.

  1. The first is I create material - maps, small adventure ideas and sell them directly through OBS, possibly even the Savage Worlds Adventurers Guild and taking all of the proceeds and donating them to a suitable PTSD service dog training charities here in Canada.
  2. The second idea is to possible set up a Patreon creators page and do the same thing with the proceeds - donate them to a service dog training charity here in Canada.
To be honest, the only critique my wife had with either those choices, is in her words...."You are a veteran, and you could use that money as much those charities can right now."

For all those content creators, not just map creators, but all of you that I know out there, whether you use one or both of these platforms you have any tips or pointers from your adventures as you started out?

Any other thoughts or comments?

Thursday, 30 August 2018

My Rant of the Day

I will be straight, this will be an ugly rant. I am on the biggest soapbox I can find and not going to pull much in the way of pushes. Probably will be a few trigger warnings for those that read my ramblings. And every last one of them today is veteran orientated.

Three totally independent, but interconnected stories about veteran's care, or the organisation that is supposed to look after us. One alone would have have made any vet angry. Add the other two into the mix - and then veterans (me especially) are time bombs.

First up we have this vile sack of shit.

He strangles a female cop, Catherine Campbell then dumps her body in trash can. I felt he got off light myself. Now its been revealed that he is receiving treatment for PTSD - because of his murder of Ms. Campbell. The absolutely most galling part of it is that treatment benefits are being paid for by Veterans Affairs...while in a prison system that has systems in place to help this man.

This not the fault of Trudeau,or O'Regan. No, this is a longstanding policy that family members can help paid. No, this is the fault of man being treated for PTSD, asking for help for his son. As father, and husband I can understand, I want to get help for my family if and when they need it. This man's case manager at VAC is a freaking angel to have gotten this approved. Did he have to appeal? How long did he have to wait for treatments to be paid for by VAC.

Morally and ethically I have to draw the line. VAC is there for dependents who need it. An adult son incarcerated in a prison does not. Again, Corrections Canada have their own systems in place. As young Mr. Grenier now an employee of CORCAN, it should be their support systems dealing with him and attempting treatment and rehabilitation.

But, hey I'm just an everyday veteran, "Asking for more than they can give."

Then there is Mr Kent Hehr. Supposed to be the next best thing to sliced bread to veterans because of his own health issues after being paralyzed in a drive-by shooting. I actually had hope for him, but it died out pretty quickly. Forced out of a cabinet position due to sexual misconduct claims, and his growing habit of making insensitive comments to veterans group or family members - even to the point of walking out of meetings with them . But the fucker somehow did a good enough job he got a commendation from the current Minister of Veteran Affairs.

Again, I am just an everyday veteran, trying to do the only thing I have left - trying to keep my family fed, and a roof over their heads.

The Supreme Court of Canada just rule they aren't going to hear an appeal on the Invicta lawsuit. I was wasn't directly involved with the lawsuit, nor did I really follow its progress as much I should have either. It does have long lasting effects on the care of veterans.

Another old vet in Halifax was just denied case because he is well on his own. Seriously? If a 80+ year old is asking for help....he fucking needs the help Full Stop!

Nope, not done yet. Just getting on the part that has me the most wound up. My psychologist and psychiatrist made a joint decision, based on what they were seeing in my body language, on what my wife and I were telling about my symptoms. You are not psychologically able to work at this time, and for the foreseeable future. My wife also had to leave her position as a civilian clerk because of me. Oh, and add an increase in dosage of some of  my prescriptions.

Going to be 100% truthful here. My wife and my dog are the absolute 100% cause of me being here today to write this rant.

My god-send of an angel of a Case Manager... Tammy Kelly has worked magic for us, and doing her best. Yet, the statement of two qualified therapist who have up to this point been looking after me two years is not enough for VAC. They need more reports on me, but its not VAC that arranges these tests. Nope, two of the tests are arranged by March of Dimes. Nothing against them, but why put up more roadblocks for a veteran to deal with?

First test - psycho-vocational. I get it, they need to see what I can possibly be retrained as. What the hell does a morning of aptitude testing have to do with my PTSD symptoms and my physical conditions being the causes of the decision given by my primary care givers. That part of my brain works just fine, thank you very much. Its the other part that is fucked up!

Oh I need a physical assessment as well now? Two days of it. Same damn questions you get asked when seeing a health care professional for the first time. Yes, and they come with the resultant increase in symptoms. Standing, bending, walking squatting, lifting. All of which I can barely do on a good day. Yeah three days later I was almost back at my what my new normal is.

Another phone call from my CM. I now require a health assessment. Seriously? Now waiting on the nurse to come out next week for the health assessment.

CM called today again. Now, I also need an OT assessment!

Seriously can you people at VAC make it any harder for somebody to get treatment or benefits?

This stuff is stressful, not just for the veteran. Every time, I have to explain stuff all over again to a different person I may or may not see again who is going to be a factor in whether VAC approves the benefit or not, its like I take 5 steps backward - those are steps that take me months to get back. If I get them at all.

23 years in the infantry - osteoarthritis in my ankles and knees. My back has bothered me off and one for years before getting out. It has degraded more since release. Finally got my civilian Nurse Practitioner to order a CT Scan of my hips a couple months back to try and get a better handle on what is going on. Yeah stenosis of the spine and two partially compressed/crushed lower lumbar (their wording), and a back full of more arthritis. I wonder what caused that?? Now to start the multi-year long fight to get that taken care of.

Appeals process is even worse.

Its no wonder why veterans are so angry and disgruntled. The system in place doesn't gave a rat's ass about while you are serving. Once you're broken you are useless...less than garbage. They can't get rid of you fast enough.

My two years under Manulife/SISIP ended the 4th of August, I wasn't "disabled" enough for them to keep on with them. Of course VAC didn't get their paperwork sorted out in time. So this months top up from them isn't arriving on time. Just a "minor" thing they told me today. "We'll get it sorted out and into your bank account soon enough."  Can't wait to explain that to my debt holders tomorrow.

Then you get tossed to the curb and get told "That you are asking for more than we can give,"

I can't keep doing this, my family can't keep doing this.  My wife and my son that still lives at home have been fantastically supportive, and I do truly appreciate their love, support and patience.

I will step off my soap box and crawl back into my hole now. More than a little tepid under the collar today.

Monday, 18 June 2018

A Failed Experiment, Some Mishaps and Other News

Well,the first obvious bit of news is that I am back to using Blogger as the platform for my blogging. Which of course mean that I am getting back into the world of blogging. I immensely enjoyed writing in my blog, even it wasn't super regular. Currently, a little over 3800 views and still climbing.

 Around this time lat year I made a conscious shift away from using Blogger.  I had a huge grandiose plan of creating a website for my local community of Burton, NB. I had visions of it serving as a hub for community based news, and to provide a listing of local businesses. It got pushed off to the wayside when I departed several Facebook groups related to the community. I deal badly with people sometimes, so this a

I also had the idea of moving my blog to a different platform to give me more options and flexibility. Around this time I had started to drift slightly into more activist-like postings on Facebook and  Twitter, so I wanted a platform where I could better separate my postings so readers could more easily find any of my rantings.

So I set up a websites for this purpose, but I made the mistake of using Go Daddy for both. There is nothing wrong with using Go Daddy. Fast and easy to set up. Can be an expensive route depending on what options you opt for. The reason I said it was a mistake to go with Go Daddy in my case - it uses Word and not Word It means I didn't have as much control over the websites as I would have liked. It was a nightmare building a website, based on one  of their themes. They have people that will build the exact website you want - but that was more money than I wanted to spend or was even in a position to spend. If running your own website is on your agenda, and you want a WP installation - use More work for you but you'll be happier with the result in the end.

The Community site is still available and I will be slowly picking away it. With my blog site I got digging into the innards of the WP PHP stuff and totally screwed it up. The site is currently inaccessible, and has been in this state since before Christmas .

My increased advocacy and activist bent took a heavy toll on me really fast. After several years dealing with PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, and a host of physical issues all related to 24 years as an Infantryman I just didn't the staying power or the motivation to keep at that work. I would read something on Facebook, or on a news site that was cause me to erupt in knee jerk reactions. Doesn't help anyone, but it certainly had a detrimental effect on my mental health. The result was that more than a few Facebook groups were deleted, probably a few more people blocked. Definitely better in that regard now since I visit certain social media sites a whole lot less.

I believe that last summer was my lowest point. I am not yet 100%, and likely will never get back to 100%, but I am in a way better place this year than last year. Veteran's Affairs has been discussing giving me a new classification that means that they won't be hounding me to "go to more therapy to fix you" or to seek work outside the home. I still need to get more information on what that means for me.

So, all that's to say that I am back to using Blogger. There is content being lined up on Melior Via's  Accursed setting for Savage Worlds. I have all the material and have been wanting to create the Fantasy Grounds conversions but felt I was lacking the XML and Lua skills needed to that setting justice. Not sure If I have all Lua knowledge I would like to have - but what a better way to learn. What else is on the list: Castles and Crusades - both new and remastered products, as well as more Legendary Games material on the way.

With Savage Worlds Black on the horizon, it is also time to look at my other SW conversions to see what changes I will need to make to them. Yes, the reference manual updates will come for those in time as well.

I have some writing projects of my own I have picking away at off and on, these projects are seeing a resurgence as well. So those or, at the very least, news of them might make an appearance in a future blog appearance.