Short Story: Heroes in the Front of Us.
I always hear that adage that a veteran took out a contract, at one point in their life, and wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including their life.” True, they did, but there is more behind this. We (veterans) took out a contract, initially, for; the opportunity to serve our country; earn money for college; get off the streets or a combination of reasons. We served.
In those years of service, we found out who we were. We were leaders, friends, brothers, sisters, and yes, tough to say, some us were not even worthy of the uniform. For the 99.9% of us that served honorably and drove on under sometimes extreme situations, we thrived. We wrote that check knowing that we would be called upon to give our lives if needed. We wrote that check, not in haste; we would give all for our brothers and sisters in arms and our loved ones.
I mentioned heroes. How do we frame what a hero is? We can’t really. They entered the “arena” and decided to cash that check by driving forward. They gave blood, sweat, and tears to protect us all.
Heroes. They wear medals aligned on their chest, or they are next to us on the Metro with ever-staring eyes. We, veterans, have given to our nation but how do we give back to those heroes? Those medals, those eyes, that blood-sweat-tears, digs deep into their souls and, in some cases, drives them to give in to their demons. How do WE, as veterans knowing what they went through, help them defeat those demons? We must strive to find the answer. WE must.
Below: Me, PV2, 1994, Fort Carson, CO. No gray hair.