The following is a description of a group of people who by their nature and through intense training do their best to be persons of integrity in even the toughest situations. They are the modern day Veterans of the United States Military:
They are men and women of different ethnicity, social class and backgrounds, they ARE someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, wife or husband, fiancé or best friend who are deeply loved.
They are selfless, having put their own career and family’s, hopes and dreams on hold in order to be a part of the toughest, most respected and feared military in the world, a part of a brotherhood that is so much bigger than what they were as an individual.
When they enlisted they traded activities like dating, sporting events, hunting, parties, movies, time with family and their children’s activities for the opportunity to carry a rifle, while wearing a flack jacket, in a slow moving, armored vehicle on roads filled with hidden explosives.
Veterans forfeited comfortable name brand t-shirts, jeans, hoodies and shoes for long sleeve scratchy camouflage uniforms they wear 24/7 for days at a time without laundering.
They gave up talks around the dinner table, cell phones, wireless electronics, and video games, for a few cherished minutes of delayed filled phone calls, sporadic costly internet access while being extremely thankful for letters received by what is now known as snail mail.
They weren’t able to listen to new music or watch newly released movies or sporting events on a big screen. Instead, they heard the orders given by their Commanding Officers, bombs exploding, and rumblings of gunfire as if they were part of the latest award winning war movie.
They sacrificed home cooked meals; pizza, fast food, ice cream, and lattes for power bars, instant coffee and tasteless powdered meals to which they added warm water.
They missed the birth of children, first words, first steps, the death of loved ones, holiday celebrations, weddings, reunions, vacations, graduations, the change of seasons, and many other events as they endured the loneliness of days that melted together as one.
Veterans gave up hugs, kisses, smiles, and laughter from those they love most, for hatred and evil seen in the eyes of the enemy.
They forfeited nightly sleep in a comfortable bed under a solid roof, to get sporadic rest in a sleeping bag, tucked under a truck, under the stars, in a tent, on anything from lava rocks to sand, and if they were lucky in a plywood building.
They left ‘regular’ jobs where they would have been safe and secure, in order to be an open target on a road filled with hidden mines or IEDs, or busting doors down looking for the enemy, never knowing what they would find.
They passed up the enjoyment of long hot relaxing showers and a dip in a hot tub, for an occasional dousing on a hot day with bottled water and cold showers in the middle of winter.
They gave up heaters and air conditioners in their home for daily temperature extremes from mountainous winters of below zero with howling winds to sandstorms and a stifling 140 degrees in the desert.
Veterans left the freedoms, culture, familiarity, and knowledge of the country where they were raised, and entered a hostile environment different in every area, from clothes and food, to religion and languages. A place filled with hidden enemies where they couldn’t always tell if those they met were friend or foe.
They willingly took the risk of being injured physically, scarred emotionally or even dying for a duty and purpose they felt called to fulfill.
They are sometimes as young as 18, who chose to forfeit all these things understanding they’d gain so much more in order to preserve and protect a way of life for the love of a country built on freedoms and liberty.
They are valiant men and women, who trained excessively, preparing for whatever situation they may encounter to be ready both emotionally and physically.
Veterans develop a sense of maturity and respect for life at a young age. Through their training and life changing experiences, they became responsible, honorable, and dedicated. The words “I can’t” were removed from their vocabulary, as they became self-assured individuals knowing that they could accomplish anything they set their minds too.
They’ve learned that some victories unseen with the human eye can be a victory within themselves and that battles aren’t always won on the front lines, but in the preparation and training that is endured behind the scenes.
They have a deep sense of loyalty, which grew through the life and death experiences they shared with their fellow comrades. At a moments notice, Veterans are available to help their family, friends, or one of their friends, even at the risk of their own lives.
Veterans are not seeking attention or high forms of praise, they only want to be appreciated, not criticized, for following through with the job they chose, that they have been trained and sent to do. For them simple thanks goes a long way
So regardless of the branch in which they served, their rank, whether they served during a time of peace or a horrendous war, Veterans young and old are courageous heroes that have earned this country’s deepest thanks, respect and honor. Americans need to be continually supportive of them for not only whom they are, the sacrifices they’ve made, but also for the difficult yet amazing job they’ve done in protecting and preserving our great country. Any less than that would be a disgrace for us as citizens of the United States.
Written by a Proud Mom of a VFW in honor of her son and the USMC 2/3 “Island Warriors” 2004-2008