Monday, November 11, 2013

Honoring our Veterans: Give Back This Veterans Day

I love my country and I am proud to be an American.  Patriotic songs make me cry especially The Army song, every time it plays there are tears that flow freely. There is a reason that I am a patriot, my Grandpa Benjamin ‘’Brownie’’ Brown served his country in World War II.  For me, I have always been taught to honor our soldiers who serve for our freedom.  For my long time readers, you will know that I often honor my cousin who died serving our country. But what about the men and women who quietly come home from war and suffer silently the after effects of war? Or those who give their all and are permanently injured for life. This Veterans day, I challenge you to show your support for the veterans who need our support more than ever.

Growing up, we often heard ‘’don’t throw rocks’’ over and over. Why? My grandfather lost his eyesight in one eye in the war. Two soldiers were fighting and throwing rocks at each other on base and one hit my grandpa in the eye causing him to lose his eyesight. He was sent to England from his post in France and discharged.  He was proud to be a heavy artillery driver and a very proud veteran. He loved his country and made sure his family did too.  In the end of his life, we talked one day about his service and the service of my other grandfather whom I never knew.  He never talked about his time in the war; he did talk about being at the Battle of the Bulge in mention only. As he aged, he suffered severe glaucoma and blindness that was debilitating in the end. He fell often and was housebound for years because he couldn’t drive any longer due to his sight.
My Grandpa Brown in Europe WWII

He was also able to share about my other Grandpa Bud Davis service as well. He was a cook in the US Army during WWII.

 Then there are my uncle Cal and cousin John, two Vietnam vets who came home from war and weren't treated with honor or respect for many years. They both suffer severe effects of their time in Vietnam, men who were treated with disrespect and shunned instead of being honored for their service until recent years.  Nobody understood that war scarred these men and women returning from war.

Uncle Cal September 1965, Vietnam

My Great Uncle Bob Stevens, US Army

 My cousin Robert also served his country. Though he didn't go to Vietnam, his time in the service eventually caused him great distress that led to him ending his life. One of my favorite happy people, imagine having Larry the Cable Guy has your cousin. That was Bubba, his death was so painful to me, I still have yet to publicly acknowledge it until today.

 Proud to come from a family full of service members, one from almost every branch of the military Army, Navy, and Marines.  Marty’s grandpa W.L. Timms was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and his uncle Sheridan was in the Navy.

 Then recently, the returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Men and women who have gone to fight for the past 10 years and many have returned home forever changed with invisible wounds.
TBI  or Traumatic Brain Injury has been deemed ‘’the signature wound’’ of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. PTSD affects nearly 20% of the soldiers returning home from the war in the Middle East.  This summer, I read two books about soldiers and the war in Iraq. 

 One of them, ‘’Until Tuesday’’ was extremely moving, a soldier Luis returning broken and hurting after suffering a TBI in Iraq nearly lost his life at home until he was saved by a service dog Tuesday.  It was recommended to me by a soldier friend of mine. I went to bed crying every night after reading it, my eyes were opened to the soldiers who are suffering right here in our country.

As I moved to Tennessee, a friend of mine deployed to the Middle East, An unlikely friendship between a cold, calculating combat vet and a wholesome, Pollyanna, wife and mother that would open my eyes to the reality of war in a new way.  I committed to praying for my friend as they served out a deployment and encouraging this friend every day. It was the least I could do for someone serving for our country.

Then just about two weeks after I finished ‘’Until Tuesday’’ this past August, my friend suffered a severe TBI and was rushed back to the states. It was devastating to talk to someone one day and then twelve days later not be able to understand a word they are saying to you.  I cannot describe the sadness and horror at the reality of war that ensued. Thankful my friend is alive, sad to see a life changed forever and to see someone I care about struggling greatly.  All I can say, is it was great to have Marty and another dear friend to hang on to because it was completely devastating. I cried nearly every day for a month while praying for my friend to be healed.  A life completely changed by dedication and service to our country, a heavy price has been paid.

So this Veterans day, I thought that I would do something for my friend, my cousins John and Robert, my Uncle Cal and in memory of my grandfathers. I am challenging my readers and friends to please consider donating to  The Wounded Warrior project today. Instead of mouthing our thanks, let’s show our thanks monetarily and send them help that is much needed.  It really hit home for me the reality of the suffering, it may not be real to many of you but to many others it is.

Thank you to all the men and women who have served our country faithfully.Especially those veterans I know and love.  I am proud to support our veterans and service members and hope you will too. The best way we can love our country is to love the men and women who serve for our freedom. Whether you agree politically or not.

Dedicated to my nerd friend, heal fast my friend, I believe in you, I am proud and honored to be your friend.  I pray for your healing every day and hope someday you will be able to be well enough to talk again. Thank you for serving our country. I will make you proud by loving our country and honoring those who have served that includes you.