I went into "charitable work" knowing there would be times we wouldn't be able to help a soldier and that he/she would be unhappy about such. I understood that unhappiness would probably be shared loudly and with words that are not polite. Intellectually that's easy to fathom. Who likes hearing "No" when they've been standing in line hoping to receive something?
Intellectual is not the same as cold reality. It appears I need to grow a tougher hide.
Recently the Board went through our applications, resulting in quite a few "No" decisions. This isn't an easy process about facts on a page. I often remind the Board that the piece of paper they're considering is a PERSON...one usually injured protecting our country. Some had been on the waiting list for a long time. Cue reality rearing it's ugly head. Our "Flood of the Century" pretty much canceled our fundraiser in 2015. As much as my heart screams, "But I want to help them all!", I know we have to have the financial means to accomplish it.
Today I had to send the, "We appreciate your service, but we're unable to assist you" e-mail. Oh the explanation is longer and more politely worded. But most soldiers tend to just see, "No".
Today, I became acquainted with the ugly side of rejection. I've also discovered that Officers are not necessarily gentlemen. Hubby reminded me, as men are wont to do, that this was inevitable, I shouldn't take it personally and should let it roll off my back. After all, you can't change the opinion of someone angry. And I know he's right.
Now if I can just convince my deeply ingrained sense of fair play to let it go.
For the guys on the Board, it's a matter of logistics: X number of dollars means distributing Y number of bows. As the sole female, my heart gets in the way of math. I'm the one soldiers ask for an application. I accept the applications, I answer their questions and try to keep them positive without making false promises until the Board renders a decision. It's a juggling act where what I'm juggling is the truth, their feelings and my heart. It can be difficult to be a good cheerleader when one of the soldiers is throwing irate words back at you, like grenades.
Today's worst reply was like being "screamed" at on paper. Accusations which weren't based in truth coupled with the observation we'd made him wait 5 years to hear the word "No." Here's where my Sense of Fair Play looked over his application again, to make sure we hadn't missed something. It was clear his last statement flat wasn't true. This year marks our 4th year as a charity, so obviously he hadn't waited 5 years. The truth was, it was less than two years. Not that it mattered to him. Even though I knew he was lashing out in anger, insinuating we were awful and he'd go out and do better (more power to you fella, it's not easy!) my inner voice was screaming, "But that's not the truth!"
Sometimes you have to let anger, even wrongly placed blame, just fizzle out in silence. In this case Hubby was right: if I'd tried to explain, it would've only fanned the flames, not put them out. But how did I continue to check e-mail without a heavy heart and wincing?
Because one soldier reminded me why I do this.
"I completely understand and appreciate your consideration! I thank you for all you do with our team and appreciate you keeping faith with our wounded and injured brothers! Please know that we will share your message and the great deeds you do for our wounded and injured service members. Keep the Faith."
Keep the faith. My heart needed to hear that.
I can do that. And I have a stack of applications for soldiers we CAN help calling my name. Sorry name callers...you, I can't hear.