My late father served his country in WWII. After 27 years in the U.S. Navy, he continued that service as a Civil Service Experimental Test Pilot and Instructor for the Army through the Vietnam war. He had over 38,000 hours as a pilot and fractured vertebrae in his spine in three different crashes.
At this moment, one of my Christian Brothers, as well as, Army brother, is in a hospital in Dallas, TX. His name is John. He was on his way to work last week and a semi-tractor trailer truck pulled out in front of him. John’s major injuries were a crushed left hip and a badly fractured right ankle. You would say, “That is bad enough.” Now I must tell you that he had a major heart attack on the way to the hospital, which resulted in emergency triple bypass surgery.
John flew Cobras for the 101st Screaming Eagles in Vietnam. We went through most of flight school together. Later, after Vietnam, he, his wife and son lived with our family until he was able to find work and a place for he and his family to live. You see, he and I had “seen it and done it” and we were brothers in effort and spirit.
I spoke to John a few minutes ago. He sounds stronger than the last time I spoke to him. He has extensive rehab ahead and hopefully his job will still be there when he is ready to return to it. He is still a hero and he is still having to fight for his life everyday.
My point in all of this is that John and many, many other men and women are still returning from a war fought over thirty years ago. There are still a few that are returning from WWII and Korea. I know you are thinking, “Why all of those wars have been fought and are over.” For those that did not serve during those conflicts or didn’t have a loved one that may or may not have returned from one or more of these conflicts, I understand how you would think they are long-since over.
For those that served during those times and/or had loved ones who did, it’s not over – it will never be over! It is impossible to serve in serious combat and not be affected the rest of your life in one manner or another. Many will “handle and hide” the residual effects of combat or the loss of a loved one to combat. It is none-the-less real to each of them.
Look at those returning today from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is currently estimated that over 20% of those wounded have head and/or psychological trauma. For all of those brave men and women returning from a combat zone, a price has been paid by each. The families who have gotten the dreaded “telephone call” or “Chaplain visit” have paid no-less of a price, as well. The families whose loved ones have returned, now must share in paying that price he or she will be dealing with.
I know all of this sounds very “down” emotionally. In fact, it is – but it is life here on earth under extreme circumstances!
On this Memorial weekend, let us spend a few moments not just remembering the fallen, but those that have returned and are injured physically AND emotionally. Give to the Wounded Warrior Project, the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, as well as, other bona fide programs and organizations that assist those still suffering from the trauma of combat.
In Charlie Troop, 1st of the 9th, First Air Cavalry, we had a saying regarding medals: “The only medals that were truly earned were the ones given posthumously.” So awards and decorations have their place, but they do not replace your brothers and sisters you have lost in combat and they do not stop the nightmares.
If you are a family member who has a loved one returning home or already has, give them time and space. Let them know you are there for them. You are not saying you can relate to what they have been through and will not be able to comprehend much of their experiences. You are saying, that you love them, you have kept their home or stateside life in place for them to return to and, once again, be safe in.
If you find that your loved one is not responding after a few weeks, then help them understand that the military and the Veteran’s Administration does have programs designed to assist in their transition back to stateside life. You will have a place in your loved one’s recuperation, but sometimes it takes professional help to get them on the right path to home.
To my brothers and sisters of our Flag, I welcome you home. I salute your service and sacrifices. You each have earned the respect and admiration of each of us here in the United States of America! May God hold you, as well as, those who have lost or seen their loved ones severely injured, in His protective arms. Please remember, this is just the beginning of our journey in life. Our ultimate destination is a place where we will not have to fight to defend it. Walk and march with the Holy Spirit forever! God Bless each of You and God Bless America!!!
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”
– George Washington –
– The First President Of The United States of America –
May all know and relish the peace of freedom. May God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit give Grace, Love and Mercy to each of us as we go about living the lives They have Blessed us with.
In Christ’s Love,