Wrong Side of Heaven

Long-time readers of the blog may recall that I worked at a nonprofit a couple of years ago. My official title was Contract Quality and Data Manager. Basically, my job was to understand the terms of every grant my department received, ensure my colleagues (they were technically my subordinates, but I never saw myself as “above” any of them) entered the data correctly, and pulled that data to report to our state and federal grant funders. The funders liked seeing the statistics on how their funding was used. Of course, this also helped organizations like USDA and DHCD report on improvements in poverty, and I had a hand in collecting and reporting that data which was cool.

In addition, I was put on a committee that oversaw and maintained some of the internal libraries in our database. Upper management was so impressed with my research skills and ideas on improving the system that they called me into meetings and kept piling my plate until I finally put my stilettoed foot down and told them if they wanted me to do more work, then I needed a raise.

I was promised a significant pay raise ($4 an hour) before I was terminated from the organization. If you haven’t already, you can read more about that in the link below:

I Lost My Job Today

I was furious, upset, lost, and felt a number of other emotions at first. Then I realized that if they hadn’t let me go, I would have stayed and wouldn’t be on my current path… a path to a better future and a better me. So, thanks, old job!

The one thing that still bothers me is losing a project very near and dear to my heart. Earlier, I mentioned how upper management pulled me into meetings and wanted to give me more work to do. Well, part of that work was co-running a volunteer tax assistant site with my supervisor, the director of the department I worked in and helped manage. During that time, I met a WWII veteran. He became pretty enamored with yours truly, and I was just as enamored with his charms and stories. I do not mean this in the romantic sense, and I adopted him as my unofficial grandfather. He rarely talked about the war, but I always gave him my full attention when he did. He was a lonely, elderly gentleman who didn’t have many people in his life to talk to, and I think he was surprised that a thirty-something-year-old woman would have any interest in what an older man might have to say, but I learned a lot from him. He would also show me magic tricks and bring me chocolate, so what’s not to love?

When he spoke of the war, he would always gaze off into the distance, and I could see in his eyes that he was replaying those moments like a moving picture in his mind. A distant memory that, for him, probably didn’t feel so distant at all. He often talked of his brothers in arms and the hardships they faced once they came back from the war, both mentally and physically. It makes me terribly sad that some of our veterans are treated so poorly. These soldiers fought for our freedom, but once they are no longer “of use,” they are discarded like an old worn-out record that no longer plays the music it once held. In my opinion, they should receive top-notch healthcare at no cost. They have sacrificed so much, and their mental health pays for it for the rest of their lives. No veteran should ever be homeless, hungry, or unable to receive the care they need. This statement is true for non-veterans as well, but if our government is going to order our military onto battlefields, they should take care of them once they return home.

I digress. This information struck a nerve with me, and I did my research, pulled the statistics of homeless veterans, the number of veterans that commit suicide, and the number of veterans who live in poverty, and presented it to the Vice-President of the organization. Forgive me, I do not recall the exact figures off the top of my head as this was at least five years ago, but it doesn’t matter. One veteran on the streets is one too many. I remember sitting across from the Vice President and telling him that our veterans do not wish to be seen as heroes, nor are they inspirations simply for existing after the war. They are human beings who want to feel accepted and like they serve a purpose, and I had an idea on how to help make that happen.

I wanted to write a grant to build a community of tiny homes where veterans could live and work. They could pay for the houses by doing jobs around the neighborhood, landscaping, agriculture, carpentry, and various other skills. We could have a counselor who visited the community once or twice a week so they could receive help with PTSD and other mental health issues at no cost. A general physician could also visit, but we hadn’t worked out all those details yet. Plus, it would be a community of veterans, neighbors of brothers and sisters who truly understand one another. If they had families, we could offer accommodations for them too, but the sad part was that most of the veterans I had talked to who needed this help had no one. I think that sense of belonging, community, and having a purpose would be incredibly beneficial to them.

I still hope to make this happen one day, but unfortunately, I do not have the means or the resources at this time. I looked into it, and I can’t get a grant for something this large without having an organization to back me. Once I have my business degree, I’m hoping I’ll have more doors opened, and I can be brought on into the nonprofit world again with the sole purpose of making this dream a reality.

In the meantime, I am begging all of you who read this to do whatever you can. It doesn’t even have to cost money. Sometimes, just lending an ear can make anyone’s day, especially a veteran who feels like their own country has discarded them.

I am leaving you with a music video. The song is called “Wrong Side of Heaven” by Five Finger Death Punch. I must warn you, this video has a heavy message. I cry every time I watch it, and I have watched it countless times because it was one of the resources I used to follow up my presentation to upper management and grant funders. It definitely got people’s attention. The Vice President and I were finding ways to make this idea a reality before I was fired, and that’s what haunts me the most…

Love and life lessons,


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25 Responses to Wrong Side of Heaven

  1. Sorry for the loss of the job.
    Thank you for taking the time to listen to a vet.
    That is a powerful song for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kristianw84 says:

      Now that I’ve been out of that organization for some time, I’m glad I don’t work there any more.

      It was my pleasure. He taught me a lot, and I think of him frequently.

      Incredibly powerful. Thank you for reading and listening!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Brad Osborne says:

    Thank you for that big, generous heart of yours! The video made me cry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kristianw84 says:

      The thought of anyone taking their life because they don’t feel valued is enough to shatter me, but a veteran? It absolutely destroys me. We must do better! I may not fully comprehend what it’s like to have bullets fly by my head, but I do recognize the sacrifices and the risk of losing a life to serve a country. I just wish there was more I could do. Shame on our politicians!

      The video is absolutely heartbreaking. The statistics and the lyrics. “I’m no hero and I’m not made of stone.” So much is said in so few words. Thank you for your service.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, such a powerful video.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jonicaggiano says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, it sounds like those people were not very smart. They were very lucky to have you. Veterans don’t get a fair shake in this country in my opinion. Suicide is a common thing amongst many veterans. I have worked as A nurse at the VA hospital in Seattle Washington on contract. I’ve never met nicer men and they all felt like they were being experimented on, at least the ones I talk to. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention it’s a beautiful piece. Blessings to you and love, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    • kristianw84 says:

      Thank you for your kind comment. I don’t like to brag, but I was very good at my job because I was so passionate about helping others. They have lost a lot of good emoyees, but that’s what happens when companies treat their employees poorly. It was a blessing in disguise. You’re right. Veterans are not treated fairly in this country. No one should risk their lives for their country just to be tossed aside. It is disheartening, and it needs to stop. They deserve respect and appreciation for their sacrifices. They deserve understanding. People mean well when they call them heroes, but they don’t stop to consider what that entails. I can’t imagine what it’s like to take the life of another, even if it is for the purpose of serving one’s country. Mostly, they deserve to be accepted for the spirit that lies behind the uniform. Thank you for being one of the kind souls who recognizes these issues, and for your work at the VA hospital. I’m sure those Veterans were very grateful for you.

      Of course. The only way to raise awareness is by educating others. Blessings and love in return! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Monch Weller says:

    Kudos to your efforts to give veterans a purpose! While your stint at the nonprofit didn’t last, I strongly believe that you made a lasting effort when you offered an ear to your veteran colleague.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That sounds likes an amazing plan, bloody people! =/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. utahan15 says:

    zimmy nailed this situation in two songs masters of war and ozzy with war pigs. sad but true. you did get the silver lining tho.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kristianw84 says:

      Yes, War Pigs is a great description of how politicians hide while sending soldiers off to war. There are many songs that depict the horrors of war. Iron Maiden and Metallica also have a couple.

      I just want better treatment and more respect for our veterans. They willingly risk their lives so we don’t have to. The least we can do is show them respect and say “Thank you.” It breaks my heart that so many are tossed aside.


  8. The V Pub says:

    It’s so sad that those people, who literally put their lives on the line for us, live out the rest of their days in despair.

    Liked by 1 person

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