Only one bullet, one mortar, or one roadside bomb separates Veteran’s Day from Memorial Day.” On Veteran’s Day, we celebrate those who have served on our behalf, on Memorial Day we commemorate those who served and gave their lives.
Post traumatic stress disorder, survivor’s guilt, the inhumanity of decisions and actions – both direct and indirect – that ended the existence of another human being. Nightmares, flashbacks, jumpiness, sleep disorders, moodiness, irritability, fatigue. Broken bones, missing limbs, respiratory illness, headaches, seizures, personality changes. Failed marriages, disconnection from children, parents, siblings and friends, the loss of the joy of life. Deep inside, a loneliness that cannot be expressed, because making the decisions they made, righteous though they may have been, caused a disconnect from the society of humanity.
If you know a Veteran, especially one that has been directly exposed to combat, they probably experience or have experienced some of those things listed above. Some wounds are grotesque and horrifying to the sight, some wounds are not visible at all. Soldiers are tough, it is part of the job description, and because of who they are and what they stand for, they will hide their infirmities as well as they are able. As we think of those who did not return from war, also think of those who returned but may never truly make it back.
To often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential of turning a life around.
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