I’ve been thinking a lot about Veteran’s Day and I can’t be more honest than to admit that I will never understand what our servicemen and women or their families experience or how it feels to have been through one or more tours of duty.

I can say, however, that I have seen, first-hand, the damage combat can do to people. I had one friend return from Desert Storm profoundly changed by his experience and so deeply disturbed that he genuinely frightened me. And then I have another friend who returned relatively unscathed.

The closest I ever came to military service was obediently submitting my Selective Service form when I turned eighteen. I felt no obligation to serve and was grateful that I never had to (although I likely would have if called).

So, what do I feel about this holiday? Well, I used to work in a VA hospital and I remember seeing lots of patients waiting for treatment in clinic after clinic as I walked through. I don’t believe we (as a country) fulfill the promises we make to our veterans. I am also embarrassed when I witness someone taking their frustration toward an administration’s policies out on the individuals who serve. We are all in this together!

No, I can never fully understand what it means to serve, but I do appreciate the difficult, vital and unique work our servicemen and women do to protect and preserve our way of life AND I AM GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SERVICE; NOT JUST TODAY, BUT EVERYDAY.

1 thought on “Veteran’s Day

  1. In all countries, the promise has never been fulfilled after the call’s been made and the hostilities end.
    My father spent 21.5 years in the US Army. He hit Omaha Beach under withering fire. He heard the Chinese trumpets at the Yalu River. He never complained that he didn’t graduate high school because of enlistment nor that he received at best times $740 per month pension as a retired E6 (Staff Sergeant).
    Those are servicemen. They don’t seek thanks. They are thankful to survive and provide some semblance of a livelihood for their family.
    Personally, six or seven years after he saved my life from being orphaned, he tried like hell to make a civilian life. We lived near military bases so we could take advantage of free health care at VA hospitals. I sat in many. Horrific some, they are at best a way station for survival for the veteran and his/her family.
    Yet the complaints were nominal. They were like waking for review at 5:30AM or bitching about the SOS on their plates in the mess. They barely flinch, complain or require others’ gratitude. It’s a job. The most altruistic of jobs that they engaged every day until retirement. Then they seem lost in the shuffle of civilian life, especially if they saw unspeakable moments in combat.
    I’ve known many, some who functioned and some who succumbed to depression, alcoholism and suicide and those who were somewhere in-between.
    Perhaps because Eisenhower greeted this “holiday” in lieu of the world’s remembrance of the Armistice of 1918, my father’s generation never fully embraced it. They were but a generation or two removed from the horror of The Great War. The war that they heard reminisced by elders during their youth. Indeed in my house, as with his “Sarge” buddies and wives, it was Armistice Day.
    Because of the recent surge in popularity to thank veterans for their service, I often wonder what my father and his buddies would think of this corporate sponsored, flag on lapel, tidal wave on display like a national Hallmark Card.
    Wish they were here to ask but, apologies to MacArthur, they fade away so fast.

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