Wounded Warrior Female Veteran
Posted on 04/24/2014To whom it may concern, Good Morning, First and foremost i speak on behalf of Allen and myself when i say we absolutely think the entire Simmons family is amazing. Not only down to Earth and completely well... human, but such compassionate individuals. I was shocke when i saw on Family Jewels the strong commitment and drive there is towards Disabled and Wounded Veterans and also assisting children. I apologize if this is coming completely out of no where. I am a disabled female Veteran of the USAF, and am writing to ask for some guidance on although nothing critical, something very important. The venue is absolutely amazing. It produces a desire to relocate from Michigan! I can not express to you the passion I have to serve/ accompany/ & support female Veterans particularly. Yesterday afternoon my fiance Allen Byrd kindly brought me to the Grand Rapids Masonic Center, of which he is a member of. While speaking with the Secretary she provided us with a list of Preferred Caterers for Wedding Receptions. If you would allow I would like to give you a brief background on Mr. Byrd and myself, and then ask you a few questions, Allen was born and raised in Coopersville, MI. His father was CEO of the Salvation Army and also Turning Point Rehabilitation Center, both located in Grand Rapids, while his mother Terry Byrd was a 3rd grade teacher at Coopersville Elementary school. Unfortunately, at the mere age of 17 Allen discovered his Mother deceased at their home due to complications inflicted from Chemotherapy. Although he attempted to revive her he was unsuccessful as it was too late. I know how deeply Gene's love is for his Mother aswell. I could not fathom how difficult that would be. Following this Allen began to care for his Father Robert, whom became almost childlike and fully dependant on him. Allen never complained and continued to become not only his Father's Caretaker but his very best friend for the following 10 years until his recent passing on January 11th of 2014. I grew up in the very small town of Ionia, Michigan. Following the tragedy that took place on September 11th, 2002 I made the decision to join the United States Air Force. On December 11th of 2002 I flew on the first airplane of my life to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas to complete Basic Training. Shortly after I was shipped to Wichita Falls, Texas for Technical Training and then arrived to my permanent duty station, Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska shortly thereafter. Although it is very difficult for me to speak about the difficulties physically, emotionally, and mentally that incurred, I can say that it was absolutely the most traumatic time in my life. One I fear will never cease to exist. -If you have any specific questions regarding the" hell" of which I encountered, please feel free to ask. After honorably separating from the military I relocated back to home here in Michigan with my beautiful children Mya and Makhi. -(Their biological father was also enlisted however became frighteningly violent even attempting to take my life while in Alaska. Due to this I am grateful that I have been able to raise both children- (ages 7 and 10), completely on my own without any contact/support for over 7 years. Allen and I crossed paths while attending church in Grand Rapids in May of 2011. Although I did not date as to protect my children the chemistry and immediate love felt was undeniable. (Although I certainly wanted to run from it!) Eventually I was able to introduce him to my daughter and son which can only be described as natural, easy and simply put as just right. Allen was also able to introduce me to his very best friend, his father whom became a father to me ,(and happily began calling himself Pappy to Mya and Makhi). Allen's father was certainly the most encouraging, uplifting, loving man I'd ever meant. It seemed as though what I had always desired in my Father, God provided through him. (I apologize for carrying on. With his death so recent it is difficult. ) Allen speaks of his Father's love for me as well. He wanted more than anything for us to be Wed, and for Allen to become a Master Mason, as he was a Demolay (sp), and stated continually that his major regret was not becoming one. (Allen actually just was presented with his Master Mason degree last night, so we are pretty proud of him.) - I know very little regarding his group but I do know there are 3 levels you have to pass until you reach and remain a Master Mason for life. Robert and Allen encouraged me strongly to seek medical attention regarding the trauma suffered (physically and mentally) while on Active Duty. Being a Soldier allows no room foe weakness, complaint, or admittance of one's weakness so it was difficult for me to push past this. While Allen was his Father's Caretaker, he quickly became mine. I had/have isolated myself for so long scared of the inevitable to venture any where. -To this date (as noted in my Medical and Mental Health Record(s) ), Allen has taken me and attended EVERY appointment by my side. With Robert and Allen's love/support/encouragement I was finally able to apply for Veteran's Disability Benefits on May 23rd of 2013. With Allen by my side I have successfully attended all appointments necessary for my claim and was told by Disabled American Veteran's Representative today that my record states I will receive my rating the beginning of May of 2014. Officially disabled now I have been diagnosed with and am being granted compensation for the followings, (all of which occurred in or were aggravated by my time on Active Duty); Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Agorophobia, Depression, Moderate Convex Roto Levoscoliosis with Degenerative changes and narrowing of the spinal canal, Recurring Concussions and debilitating Migraines as a result of Head Trauma (skull being cracked), while in the service. As you can imagine the past year has been very difficult and the sudden demise of Allen's father has devastated us all. Our dear Daddy Byrd was going to pay for our arrangements and clearly no longer is available to do so. Allen has been an absolutely amazing father, Caretaker, and Man of God and I could not be more grateful to have him present in our lives. Although we planned for Robert to walk me down the isle and be in attendance at our Wedding, that clearly is not going to occur. (Although I believe he will be present as he would not miss it for the world.). After enduring the challenges we both have faced our desire to become husband and wife is stronger and also more certain than ever. Please forgive me for such a very long winded email! I apologize and am uncertain as to why I found it quite necessary to explain our entire "story" We currently are planning to wed, God willing, in July 19th of 2014. Because Allen's father has passed all of his material belongings seem to want to remain in probate court, while I am awaiting as so many other Veterans, to recieve my Compensation for Disability. I do not have a Mother figure in my life to help so I am basically attempting to figure things out on my own... And I know somehow and someway every thing will. I have com discounts etc to/for Disabled Veterans and/or Members of the Grand Rapids Masonic Lodge? We currently are planning to wed, God willing, July 19th, 2014 at the Mason's Lodge. Because Allen's father has passed all of his material belongings seem to want to remain in probate court, while I am awaiting as so many other Veterans, to recieve my Compensation for Disability. I do not have a Mother figure in my life to help so I am basically attempting to figure things out on my own... And I know somehow and someway every thing will. I was curious if you know of ANY organizations that may be willing to assist me with anything for our ceremony, July 19th, 2014. A Wedding Dress, MiniBride Dress for my daughter, catering, decorations, flowers, drinks, etc. Obviously I am not" entitled" to help based on being 100% disabled it is certainly difficult in my situation to arrange, organize, or pay for anything. With Allen being my consistent caretaker as defined by the C&P Psychiatric Examiner, not being paid and also the executor of his Father's estate awaiting Probate amoungst the many other processes necessary following an individual's demise. I'm simply hoping you may have suggestions, etc. If you could help in any way with anything or direction for me, it would be such a sacrifice and mean absolutely everything. :-) Once again I apologize for the novel~like letter and truly appreciate your time. Blessings to you and your family, Erica A. Krampe *In addition I am attaching my Military Identification, Xray, and Veteran's Affairs disability Compensation and Pension Exam. Via email as i,am,only able to upload one photo through this site. P.S. Since Allen and I (basically), no longer have parents present we were hoping we could be adopted into the Simmons/Tweed family if thats not asking too much? >I know Sophie didn't approve in adoption prior, but just thought I'd through it out there.