From S. King (U.S. Army Veteran, 8 years)

To my Brothers and Sisters in arms,

I want you to know that I genuinely care about you and think of you daily. We as a nation have been at war for over a decade, and many, if not most of you have pulled combat tours. It is a brave and respectful profession, and I know you don’t always get the individual praise and acknowledgement that you deserve.

The best advice that I can share with you, is that if things are getting mentally hard to handle and you need some of the weight lifted from your shoulders, reach out and talk to someone rather than trying to carry the entire burden alone. This may be hard to do at first, but I promise it will be worth it. The most important thing that I learned is that you cannot take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself first.

I am happy and grateful to be alive today, living a more peaceful life than I ever imagined possible. It has surely been a struggle living with my anger and service injuries, but in recent years, I have quit smoking, am educating myself on healthy food choices, am exercising as much as my body will let me, and have finally learned that happiness is a choice. How I react to situations is a choice. It is a new concept for me, but I am beginning to see things in a whole new light.

The only reason that I am sharing this is that I want you to know that when things feel like they are so broken, so out of alignment, and you think they will never be “right” again, hang in there and reach out and talk to someone. Know that you have choices and that YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. You are not expendable, you truly do matter, and you are not alone.

In my eyes, we are all brothers and sisters…we are family, regardless of branch of service or rank. Every day I think of our country’s veterans, the brothers lost by my side, and those of you who are currently serving, including my nephew and my two boys. I cannot look at Old Glory flying in the wind without thinking of you.

I am grateful and thankful for every one of you.

This We’ll Defend,

S. King

S. King

S. King

 

From Andrea H. (Dental Hygienist)

My father in-law was a veteran of WWII where he served in the Asiatic/Pacific Theater. He enlisted after Pearl Harbor while a senior in high school. I was very proud of him and really enjoyed spending time listening to his stories. Even with macular degeneration, he managed to type up his memories and his service record. I made it my mission to help him get his medals as he had never received them. And we accomplished that. He truly was a man from the Greatest Generation. He never knew a stranger and was always there to help anyone who needed it.

My son served for eight years in the USMC, and did a tour of Iraq. I’m very proud of my son’s service to his country, but I also know that the son we sent over there is not the one who came home. Although this is not all negative, as a mother you never want your child to have war experiences. But at the same time, I know he was well trained to do his job, and he was supported by his fellow Marines.

I am very proud of both of these men in my family. Some of the hardships they endured, like 48 hours straight of being shelled while in a foxhole on a beach in the South Pacific, or being in 116 degrees in the desert while wearing full combat gear, Kevlar vest, and ammo vest in blowing desert sand and living with such creatures as the camel spider, we can’t even relate to.

What these men, Our men, and their families went through for us, it seems we could never repay. What I try to do is to always walk up to anyone in a uniform and thank them for their service. Even if all they are wearing to identify them as military is one of those hats.

God Bless our veterans for all they gave to our country. No matter the politics of the time, these men and women didn’t even think twice about putting their lives on the line for all of us. And God bless the families at home. Not only do I want to give them my gratitude, but I also want us as a country to make sure to give them all the benefits and pay that they deserve.

Support our Troops,

Andy (Andrea) H.

This is me with my son Brandon.  I'm holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
This is me with my son Brandon. I’m holding a photograph of my father-in-law.
My son with one of his sons.
My son with one of his sons.