Jan 192013

Good morning everyone and happy Saturday once again! So how has your week been? Me, I’ve been extremely busy, and quite honestly, I had no idea so many people moved in the winter. I haven’t been this busy since July, and I’m certainly not complaining. I’m seriously wondering if part of it has to do with the fact it’s been unseasonably warm. We’re approaching a full year since we’ve gotten any measurable snow, though next week, we’re supposed to get that “rip your face off” negative wind chills I grew up with that we haven’t had in… a couple years maybe? Meh, at least I don’t have to stand on an elevated platform waiting for a train that never seems to come.

While sure, I’m not complaining about the lack of snow, since here in the city, all it seems to do is create traffic problems and then melt into salty, black slush. But the Earth really does need it- yes, even here. Granted, we get our water from Lake Michigan, which I’m sure Chicago water bills are exceptionally low compared to the southwest. And, many people here believe our water is limitless, but never doubt there is a limit. We’re only two inches away from the lake being at its all-time low set back in the 60s, and if it gets six inches down, the Chicago River will need to be locked off so pollution doesn’t spill into the lake. Many people are unaware the river is all but total raw sewage they’re just now talking about cleaning up, not to mention a bunch of other stuff. It’s why I have no problem when they dye the river green for St. Patrick’s Day. At least it’s a nicer shade, even if it still smells like… well, you know where I’m going with this.

Of course, the Great Lakes isn’t all that’s having problems. The U.S. has been in various states of drought for quite a while now to the point where ranchers have been feeding candy to their cattle in order to save money on feed. (What’s wrong with that? I mean, it’s still mostly corn, right? In HFCS form, true, and that’s even though cows are supposed to be eating grass, but meh, that’s okay. Chocolate bars make hamburgers taste better. Or something.) It’s because of this widespread drought the Mississippi River may soon be unnavigable. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has its hands full trying to keep the water moving, and where the water is moving somewhat to the way it should be, they have way too many levees to repair. It all leads me to thinking if there is any branch of the military that needs a few extra sets of hands from the many Pagans who put the environment at the forefront of their beliefs, it’s this one.

Debby Morris

Now of course, we all know there are indeed many Warriors amidst the ranks, and this week, I would like to highlight someone who deserves a good deal of recognition. I got the opportunity to interview Debby Morris, a Biomedical Engineering Technician and LGBT Special Emphasis Programs Coordinator at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. She also acts as a liaison to the Chaplain’s Office for Earth Centered Religions and was a 2nd class Petty Officer in the US Navy, from 1981 to 1988, on Active Duty and a Reserve until 1996. She is also on Circle Sanctuary’s Military Ministries Team, assists with Operation Circle Care, and makes herself available for the Chaplains in her area to consult about ministry Pagans and ministering to them when called upon. Quite the list of titles and positions!

So last week, I read one of her posts online where she was talking about how well her gathering went, and let me tell you, it was no casual get-together. At the Veterans Administration hospital in Washington, DC, they held the Winter Haven Stand Down for homeless veterans, in which she was requested by the Chief of Voluntary Services there to work the LGBT information table. This of course greatly piqued my interest, as there are sadly so many homeless veterans spanning all age groups, and yes, this includes those who are LGBT.

LGBT information booth at the Winter Haven Stand Down for homeless vets

As it turns out, the event was extremely successful, helping so many veterans with a leg up and confidence boost. Since she has lived in the DC area for over twenty years and having worked at the VA for the last decade, Debby is keenly aware of the need, and her help is greatly appreciated. At the Stand Down, Debby stated,

We were able to chat with several of the homeless and at risk veterans and direct them to the informal support group formed by our Social Work Service in the wake of the repeal of DADT. We want to be welcoming and assure our vets that it’s ok to be who you are, authentically here. You are in a safe place to receive your care.

We had several employers with tables, as well as the DC Department of Employment Services, Montogmery County (Maryland) Employment Services, and a variety of others. We also had the housing resources, showers, haircuts, medical and dental attention, clothing, a hot meal and other things.

Since I work for the VA, I try to make sure I remember that I serve my brothers and sisters to the best of my ability every day. I care.

Obviously, the need is great, so I had asked Debby what her personal thoughts were in regards to rectifying the problem with homelessness among our returning troops. She stated,

We need to make absolutely sure that our returning troops are debriefed properly, and that they are screened properly for Traumatic Brain Injury, and PTSD. We also need to make sure that employers know that hiring Vets is the best way to go.

Yes indeedy, a very inspiring woman.

And before I let you all go this week, I wanted to add a little boost of happiness with you all: Wiccan books will soon be appearing in the religion section at bookstores nationwide. As I posted on my Faceypagez, Wicca is now an officially recognized religion in the book biz, meaning you may start to see Wiccan books appearing in the religion section right next to the bibles. There will still indeed be a metaphysical section, because not all Pagans are Wiccan of course, and many books on Witchcraft are not just for Wiccans. Basically, Wicca got a promotion, but some authors may choose to have their books hang out with their buds in metaphysical instead of taking the promotion for reasons cited in the article (it is a business, after all). But the fact the promotion happened is a big deal, because a whole industry recognizes it.

I would venture “Big Blue” would be a good candidate to enter into the uncharted waters, just for the fact it stands the least amount of chance of losing monetary value. Every Pagan knows what it is (and yes, I include all of us in the community under that Pagan umbrella for consistency’s sake), and the book is always recommended, so people looking for it will wander over into the religion section to find it.

Methinks after a few books written by Big Name Pagans manage to hold their heads above water over in the religion section, like I dunno, five years or so, the smaller publishers and authors will take a stab at the code classification. That is, of course, if major bookstores manage to survive. Five years from now, who knows- maybe the only chain that exists will be Amazon, and the coding won’t matter anyway. But that’s here nor there if you ask me: Just getting some equal shelf space is enough to make me a happy camper.

Welp, that about does it for me this week. I hope you all have a great weekend and an even better week. And if you live in the Midwest, it’s (finally?) time to get out the parka!

Many blessings to you and yours.

  One Response to “Meeting the needs of us all”

  1. […] public and private, military and civilian. Back in January, I introduced one of our own to you, Debby Morris, who put together projects such as this through the VA to help our vets with haircuts, clothing, […]

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