Shameful post by Richard Bleil
As shameful as it is for me to admit, today is Veteran’s day, and my post today was…well, on something else. I’ve been writing my blogs in advance and lining them up in a queue, and this one slipped through.
There are really three days that celebrate our service members. Armed Forces Day is designated to honor our active military members. These are the brave men and women out there today, often missing holidays because many of them are deployed. They are on the front lines today, keeping us safe. Memorial Day is the day designated to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while they were active military members. These are the men and women who fell and will never again join their family and friends for any holiday.
Veteran’s Day is the day we set aside to honor those who served in the military and have returned home. This truly is a great thing, but it’s important to keep in mind that these men and women will carry their service with them for the rest of their lives, be it good, bad or indifferent.
I was speaking with a man at the bus stop last week who was dressed in full camo. His clothes looked “regulation” and seemed to have the insignia of military, so I had to ask. He served in the Marines and was quick to point out that he would very much like to forget his service and just move on with his life.
It’s easy to think “YAY! This service person survived!” and assume that everything is okay. I always wish that, but for many the trauma, PTSD, as well as physical harm will stay with them for their entire lives. I was honored to be invited to a celebration for the return of a company after being deployed in Afghanistan for, as I recall, about 18 months (that might not be quite correct, but it was extended). I listened as the CO spoke of bravery and the great job the company had done, then asked the spouses to be patient with their returning soldiers. He spoke about how deployment changes people, and how they will need patience and understanding. He spoke of the services provided to help “transition back” to home life, for the soldiers and for the spouses. I thought about this, the jobs I’ve had and moved on from, and how, never, in any of them, have I had to deal with a “transition period”. So a special word of thanks goes out to those who welcome the veterans home, and stand by them as they readjust to civilian life; the wives and husbands, moms and dads, children, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends…your veteran will need all of you.
We’re better to returning soldiers today than we have been in the past. I had a friend (my barber) who was in Vietnam, who spoke of having bags of urine thrown at him in the parade he marched down in New York City to celebrate their return. Today, I am happy that as a society we’ve matured. We may not agree with the politicians who deploy our soldiers, but the soldiers themselves to a fantastic job, and do exactly what we need them to do by following orders. When the ground war against Iraq began in 2003, many people were worried about the armored divisions Hussein commanded, presumably the third largest armored (tanks) army in the world at the time. And the “mother of all battles” that was anticipated never materialized. Later we discovered that many of Hussein’s generals never ordered their divisions out because they had been paid off by America. Yup, we decided it was cheaper (in several ways) to just pay Iraqi generals millions of dollars to sit in a corner. Imagine if that happened to American troops. Regardless of popular opinion of a given military campaign or decision, we need troops to follow orders. This is what makes the American military the mightiest on earth.
So it might be a day late, but the sincerity is not lacking, and it is a gratitude that I feel every single day of my life. Many thanks to the many men and women who have served. Because of its focus, I would like to add a welcome home, and I truly hope that any wounds that you do carry with you, be them external or internal, are quickly healed. We owe everything that we are as Americans to you.