Mar 17, 2008


We arrived in Austin around 2:30am. We tallied up just over 22 hours and 1,562 miles. I reported for duty to deploy in support of Operation Noble Eagle on May 3, 2004.

3 years, 10 months and 14 days later, I am finally home for good.

Sure feels good.

Mar 16, 2008


We just crossed the Texas state line! yeeeee haaawwww!!!! 1194 miles behind us, 370 more to Austin.

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We had a wonderful stay in Nashville with Kyla and her friend Duane. He cooked us breakfast and we were on our way before noon. I just capped off driving 300 miles straight. It's just before 5pm and we are about 40 miles east of Little Rock. We've decided to go all the way to Austin. It'll be a late night, but we got rest last night and Holly got about an hour of sleep thanks to my smooth driving. 555 miles to Austin!


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Mar 15, 2008

Safe in Nashville

Holly and I arrived safely in Nashville shortly after 10pm. After my last post we drove through another two hours of rain and mist. We are not staying at Kyla's but at a friend of hers in a beautiful house. She's staying with us here too though. I'm pretty pooped and so is Holly. We're gonna chat with them a bit and hit the sack. We're trying to decide if we want to drive all the way to Austin tomorrow or stop at her sister's. I kinda' just want to get home. It would be a 13 hour drive though, so we'll see.


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Rainy Drive

We had a really good time last night at our farewell get-together. So good, in fact, that we stayed longer than planned because we were just enjoying the fellowship of our best friends. We think that over 60 people came by to wish us well. Thanks all, we had a great time.

When we got back to Walter Reed we had to situate everything and we didn't get to bed until 4am. This morning we got up at 8:30, got ready and loaded the truck bed up. We really had to pack the bed well because we knew we were going to hit rain on the way and we wanted to protect the bags. We covered them with a tarp right behind the cab and then put two plastic bins at the end. We bought the bins, again, because we knew it would rain.

We checked out and got on our way stopping at a Cracker Barrel in Manassas to have breakfast with John and Tamra who wanted to meet us somewhere in the morning. We officially got underway around 1pm with full bellies.

After six hours we have covered about 430 miles and have 250 left to Nashville. With the time change we should arrive at our friend Kyla's home around 9:45pm. We're currently driving in rain and have been for about an hour now. I drove first for almost 300 miles and four hours and hit rain for maybe half an hour. Holly's at the helm now and she's doing great in the rain. We have both had a chance to get a little rest.

I'll post again when we get to Nashville.


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On Our Way!

I'm typing this on an iMac so it is going too suck. We were up later with our friends than planned. So, we're getting a later start than we planned, but it is ok... God must have wanted it that way. We're getting ready, will load up, maybe meet out good friends John and Tamra for breakfast and will be on our way. We anticipate hitting a few thunderstorms on the way to Nashville, but we should get there before 9pm. I might even blog along the way. Goodbye Walter Reed!!!

Mar 14, 2008

Done Out-Processing!! On to packing

I completed out-processing this morning at 10am!! After jumping through hoops to get through finance, we wrapped everything up fairly quickly. We're about to have lunch with the Stripe staff and then we'll pack up the rest of the afternoon. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers!! I am really relieved to put all this behind me.

One more day!..

We finally got word on whether my disability is temporary or permanent. I had to really jump rank pretty high to get an answer that was satisfactory but we got it. They are saying it was a typo the whole time and that my disability is Temporary. This is fine – we just needed an answer and it took 24 hours to get that answer and only because I fought to get someone to ask the questions to get the answers I needed. All I have left to clear tomorrow is finance and my final out-processing where they send me on my way. We are a day behind in packing everything up so Holly and I are going to split up tomorrow so that everything can be packed before our farewell get-together at 8pm, which we’re still not fully prepared for. I guess I figured things would go smoothly, but I should have known better. I’ll post tomorrow when we have everything done with the Army and have pretty much everything buttoned up. Keep praying for us!! We are aaallllmmmoooosst there. *sigh*

Mar 12, 2008

Two Days Left

“Two days left” has been our mantra all day. And it’s been a long day! It started at 8:30 a.m. as Roger was on his way to physical therapy and ended about 5:30 p.m. And we are exhausted. After we had lunch and the Stripe staff joined us in the lovely Walter Reed cafeteria, we headed to our first out-processing appointment. Thank goodness the ladies in this department were professional and cared about their work because the rest of the people we had to deal with the remainder of the day weren’t. It was at this appointment that we discovered Roger’s disability status had been changed from temporary disabled retired list (TDRL) to permanent. It’s better for Roger and us in the long run, but it wasn’t what Roger signed and agreed to and it would be worse for us in the long run if it was not right. So we spent the next hour or so trying to get proof of this change, with people from many departments and agencies saying it’s probably correct, but no one actually able to give us proof. And all these people were all supposedly trying to get an answer from the people who actually made the change but no one could. So we kept getting the “hopefully by tomorrow” response which is not what we needed to hear. Roger’s orders were cut then revoked and now are in limbo until tomorrow. Roger contemplated jumping chain to try to get something himself but decided it probably wasn’t smart. I don’t think he would have gotten any results either. So we rushed around the rest of the day getting signatures from everyone we could on his out-processing checklist for his unit. We couldn’t believe we got as many as we did before the close of business day, but we weren’t able to get them all without orders. Most of these steps are started four months before normal retirement and here we have two and a half days. At least we can start early tomorrow morning with only a few before we can go on to the next step of running around getting signatures for the post out-processing checklist. This all has to get done by tomorrow in order for any last minute things to be done on Friday so we can get out of here on Saturday. So every time we hit a little speed bump or hiccup, we had to remind ourselves there was only two days left of this BS and we’re done forever. We were so exhausted that we even declined free tickets to a Washington Capitals game tonight. That’s sad. We were really excited about seeing a professional ice hockey game, but we were too exhausted. We just woke up from a much needed nap and are about to eat some dinner so we can get to bed early in order to start all this over again tomorrow morning. I am so glad I’m here with Roger. Even though it’s been a sucky day, we did get a lot accomplished and I’m glad we are together to help each other through it. It’s so easy to get discouraged here. So please pray tomorrow is a better day. Thanks!

Holly here and news on the Leave Form

A quick update… Holly flew in last night and we’re happy to be together again. I got a call this morning from my squad leader and my leave form was finally signed by the Brigade Commander and was ready to be picked up. I went to Physical Therapy this morning and had my last appointment with them. I also cancelled my Aquatic Physical Therapy appointment for tomorrow so that I have enough time to get everything done. I haven’t really been able to work on anything in PT having to do with my right side because when I fell a month ago on the ice, I strained the AC in my right shoulder and then my back started acting up. So, instead of working on agility and such, they’ve been putting moist heat on my back and then working pressure points to try to get my back to stop hurting so much. It’s been painful, but I’ve been taking 800mg of Ibuprofen every eight hours to relieve the pain and reduce swelling.

On to today… I already turned my leave form in to the Transition Dept and we’re about to have lunch and then we have several meetings with Transition and we’re going to start out-processing today. We’ll let you know how far we get!

Mar 10, 2008

Satan's Working Overtime

You know, Roger's leaving Walter Reed Army Medical Center this week, coming home for good and you think there's nothing that could bring us down or mess up this week, but Satan is good at trying to make your good times not so good. I know how he works. I know it's him trying to bring us down, discourage us and pull us away from God. Thank the Lord we are able to recognize him and his lies and go straight to God for help and encouragement. And God always meets me where and when I need Him. I was thinking I need to read some scripture so I can change my focus back to Him and thought about what scripture I should read. I glanced over at my Bible Gateway Verse of the Day widget and as usual, the Lord put the scripture I needed there. Once again, He has led me where I need to go in His word.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9

After praying for the Lord to speak to me and lift me through His word, I studied the chapters surrounding this scripture. Peace and hope only the Lord can give has been found again. Thank you God. Please pray for Roger & I both. We are in the home stretch. Please pray for all of Roger's paperwork to be signed, approved and processed in a timely fashion and for us to make it through this last week with love, patience and peace. Thank you so much for praying for us. I'm sure you know how much we need it.

Mar 9, 2008

One Day And A Wake-Up

As Roger and I talked tonight we both realized in one day and a wake-up I'll be in DC to help Roger come home. It seems kind of weird, I'm sitting here after cleaning the house and getting as much done before Roger comes home most of the weekend, that in one week he will be home forever. What's weird is having the thought, "he's going to be home for good in a week." Outside of the military, I don't think many people think that thought about a loved one ever. One of my biggest fears during this last year, and the first year Roger was deployed, was that I was going to get used to him being gone. That's something I did not want to happen. I didn't want to be one of those wives who would rather their husbands be gone all the time. That's not a marriage. I love being married and especially being married to my best friend. We have a great relationship and I just want it to be back to normal and continue to grow stronger and deeper. And start having fun again. Speaking of funny and normal, a few people have said this past week with the latest news we'll be able to get back to normal. The first time I heard that, I wondered jokingly at first, "what's normal?" Then I started to realize it was a real question not just a passing joke. Roger and I are going to have to get used to being around each other again, especially since he won't go back to work until the end of May and I work from home three days a week. It's probably going to be interesting at times. I am already anticipating the forty questions a day about where things are. Pray for patience for me. :) But I also know we're going to enjoy and cherish the time together. We'll eventually get back to "normal" but I don't think our lives, and our love, will ever be the same. Hopefully, we never forget to cherish our time.

Mar 4, 2008

Going home sooner than I thought - and I won an award!

I have more information regarding my departure from Walter Reed. I ran around today getting paperwork completed so that I can leave soon. Now I’m only waiting for my leave form to be approved so that they can create orders for me – then I’ll be set to go. As it stands right now, my last day of duty will be Friday, March 14th. I begin my 70 days of leave on Saturday, March 15. Holly is flying to DC early next week and we have to do a few admin things together to prepare me for my retirement pay. We’re planning to have some type of get together for our entire group of GCC/DC circle of friends the evening of Friday, March 14. An Evite is forthcoming. We’ll be driving back to Texas on Saturday. My leave will end Friday, May 23 and I’ll be officially medically retired on Saturday, May 24. Right now I’m a little flustered because I thought I’d have more time to say goodbye to people, so I’m trying to see people when I can. Today I had dinner with my friend Erika and then went over to see Buddy & Amanda and their handsome baby boy. At least I have more definite info on the dates – everything is pretty solid from here. I’ll believe it when I have my leave approved and my orders in hand. I’ll keep you updated.

Oh – a quick note… this came out a while ago, but I’m lazy and never posted it. As you know, I photograph for the Stripe newspaper here at Walter Reed on an as needed basis. Basically, I’m considered a freelancer or a stringer. Check it out:

Subject: Journalism competition
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Judging for the annual MEDCOM Journalism Competition and to choose MEDCOM representatives in the Army's Keith L. Ware Award competition was held Friday, Jan. 25 at MEDCOM HQ. Walter Reed Army Medical Center staged a near sweep of the awards, but the Fort Detrick Standard pulled out the win in the category of best Tabloid Newspaper. Individual winners were Walter Reed Stripe editor Bernard S. Little in Feature Writing, Commentary, Sports Writing and Single Photograph; and the Stripe's Kristin Ellis in News Writing and Photojournalism.

Serving as judges for the competition were Jerry Townsend, former chair of the journalism department at San Antonio College; Rich Lamance, print team leader for the Army/Air Force Hometown News Center; and SGM Paul Stevenson, NCOIC at U.S. Army North Public Affairs.

The winners will each receive a certificate from MEDCOM, and will go forward to compete for Keith L. Ware Awards. Also going on to Army will be entries with no MEDCOM competition: The CHPPM Sentinel in Magazine Format Publications; Kristin Ellis in Art/Graphics; SFC Roger J. Mommaerts Jr. of Walter Reed in Photography by a Stringer and COL Paul Little of CHPPM in the broadcast category for Television Information Program.

Thank you to all who participated. Congratulations and good luck to our representatives in the Army contest.

I was happy to hear this news – especially since I didn’t even enter a picture – Bernard picked one and entered it for me. Thanks Bernard and congrats to you and Kristin on your awards! Here’s the picture that won the award and is going up for another one: WRAMC Stripe Mass Casualty Exercise 248

Mar 3, 2008

Mar 3rd Again and... a Step Closer!

Here we are. March 3, 2008. Two years to the day of my surgery in 2006. Last year on this day, Holly and I drove away from our home away from home in Arlington, VA to get her resettled in Austin. Today I found out that my name is on the Transportation/Transition list. It is official, I am finally going home.

I found out late in the day and all I could do was see the guy that will head my transition out of here. And all he could do was give me a list of things I need to bring him. I tried to set up as much as possible for tomorrow to do. I have to go to S-1 (kinda’ like HR) at 0800 and they are going to get my records straight, I have to stop by the Reserve Liaison Office (since I’m a Reservist, they do things for us the Active side can’t), I need to decide how much leave to use and fill out a form (all of it!!), and I have to talk to some lady about my retirement pay. I went by her office today and she was gone, so I left her a voicemail and I’m hoping she’ll call me tomorrow – but I’ll stop by again anyway. I just need to get these few items squared away and go back to square one. If everything checks out, they’ll cut my orders… soon… I hope.

I spent time this evening getting all my paperwork together so that I’ll have everything I need to knock out as much of this as possible. I’ll let you know how far I get. If everything goes smoothly (HA!) I think I’ll be out of here by the end of the month!

Lastly, March 3rd is my sister Mirna’s birthday. Happy birthday Mirna!