Today was a roller coaster of emotions. I started the day by attending a suicide prevention presentation on post. The presentation was up my alley: four actors played out different scenarios, then a facilitator interrupted at various choice-points and discussed different ways soldiers could react in the scenario, and what the possible consequences would be. I found out about the presentation last Friday when I saw Killer Joe at the Hyde Park Theatre in Austin (Capital T produced the show) and met one of the actors who also does the suicide prevention show.

I found the show to be pretty effective; while the scenarios kept the soldiers awake, their attention turned rapt when the facilitator told his own story of his time in the Army, and his close calls with a .45 before he sought out help and support. When he asked how many soldiers have broken a bone and not sought medical treatment, the number of raised hands astonished and educated me. Asking for help takes a kind of courage that they are not used to employing. Secrecy, stoicism and denial are traits encouraged by command and peers alike.

This afternoon, I was notified of a death on post. Suicide likely.

I wish these men and women felt like they could ask for help more easily. I wish I knew how to make it easier, but I know that’s an idealistic, narcissistic fantasy. An entire culture is changing, and a tortoise moves more quickly. All I can do is be here when one of them is ready to come in.

So tonight I sought out some comfort food. Now, I love to travel and experience new cultures – including the local food. But I’m also a high-maintenance eater, dealing with allergies to gluten and dairy as well as sensitivities to sugar, caffeine, eggs and soy (oy!). Back in the 90’s when I spent a year and a half on the road, I quickly learned the “Starbucks factor” – the simple comfort I could find knowing that, in any North American town, I could walk into a Starbucks and know that my latte would always be made right – no cow’s milk to stuff up my sinuses or caffeine to ruin my slumber. For someone with so many food restrictions, it is an incredible comfort to know what’s okay to eat without too much thought.

So I hiked it on over to Harker Heights tonight and found my favorite fast food, Chipotle. Not only do I know that the food is safe for me, but I can also rest easy knowing that the food has been locally sourced and naturally raised. The locavore in me gives a big thumbs-up!

My longtime mentor and friend, Bob, told me that a military installation would be the “realest” place I’d ever spend time, and he was right. Life gets distilled. Comfort comes in simple packages, met with gratitude.

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