Dear President Trump,
I’m sitting at Regan National with a 3+ hour wait before my flight since it didn’t seem worth slogging around town with my suitcase. I am bummed, though, that it didn’t feel safe to wait to leave tomorrow as I really wanted to go to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Obamas’ portraits. The NPG was our brother-in-law’s (BIL) favorite DC museum so whenever I do go there again it will be both a special treat and bittersweet. When he and I met here in DC last year I really thought it was a trip we’d get to repeat a bunch more times. As you can probably tell, I miss him. A lot.
Ok, I am feeling too tired and raw to get augured in today about how I feel about losing BIL so suddenly and awfully. Instead, I’ll let you know that our Center of Excellence got a wonderful vote of confidence and was approved for another five years of support, assuming VA funding continues to exist. The review panel is really happy with our research, educational initiatives, and clinical implementation projects aimed at improving substance abuse care for veterans with alcohol and drug problems. In particular, I got word that some of our research showing that we need to correct how VA screens women for alcohol problems is being appreciated by key folks in Central Office and it looks like we will be able to make that fix soon. There’s also interest in working out ways to get all drinkers information on safer drinking guidelines. This way, even if a veteran doesn’t give their provider the full picture about their drinking, they’ll still get solid information on safe drinking they can digest on their own at home. It’s not particularly original, but it’s basically seed planting that could help the vet start making changes on her or his own or decide that it might be a good idea to talk with someone about their drinking.
I don’t know whether your brother was open about his struggles with alcohol or if he tried treatment for his alcohol use disorder. I hope so, but so many people hide the extent of their drinking and are reluctant to engage in formal treatment that we need to use all the tools in the tool kit to lower barriers and reduce shame about these issues.
May we feel safe to be honest.
May we be willing to meet people where they are without judging or shaming them.
May we prioritize people’s health, well-being, and dignity.
May we give people every opportunity to make peace with their demons before it’s too late.