Every year, I boohoo my way through Memorial Day and Veterans Day services at my church and PBS. I am touched and moved. Any time I look at the flag, I get choked up. I can't hear patriotic music without having my heart fill with the magnitude of their sacrifices. This phenomenon lasts the whole year through.
And not just the grand sacrifice, but all the little ones, too. The days that they never spent with their families. The milestones that they should have celebrated with their spouses, their kids, their parents. The anniversaries, the birthdays, the births, the first steps, the first words, the first days of school, the snow days, the family dinners....that they were not there for and they can never go back and redeem.
And even the possibilities...that are lost...
I know a young man who is a marine. He and his family have always felt strongly about their involvement in government, local, federal, etc. It should come as no surprise that as a young man, he took that sense of duty and felt called to military service. He signed up, with his family's support, concerns, and love. He was in Iraq for less than a month, involved with communications, when he was shot. He has had surgeries into the double digits to try and repair the damage that was done. They have not been as successful as was hoped.
He has been in surgeries, therapies, has had pain medications, addictions, and deep struggles with depression. I have learned a whole other side of veterans. The abyss that is after care.
We see glorious gifts of sacrifice. We see triumphant reunions. We do not see these men broken, struggling, and hurting. I have learned the appalling statistic of "Eighteen veterans a day commit suicide; 6,000 a year". That is more military that we have lost by their own hand, than on the battlefield.
I urge you to be appreciative of the military personal that lost their lives securing yours. I beg you to be aware of the losses of those who gave up so much so you could take your day to day for granted. But I entreat you to pray for those who are back, broken in body and spirit. Hurting after heroically standing in the gap for you. I plead with you to stand in the gap for their soul. I implore you to write to them, call them, be a true friend to them and their families. They now need you to rescue them.
Please don't forget them after the fanfare has died down. Please be their hero.