This Veterans Day, many people forget to honor the true heroes, our spouses, children, parents, brothers, sisters, extended family, friends, and so many other blood and non-blood relations that help us through life. These are the individuals that demonstrate one of the most valiant of the military values, selfless sacrifice. To illustrate this point, look at all of the Parades and events occurring today, and find one that solely honors the family and support systems. Generally, the numerous Veterans Day activities mention the families and support systems in passing, but they deserve so much more.
If you do not know what the military and Veteran family sacrifices, here are a few examples:
It is our families and support systems that cried as we took our oaths as we entered the military.
It is our children, spouses, parents, friends, and so many others that had to sever their connections to their friends and support systems every time the orders came down to move.
It is our children that had to explain to their friends why their mother and father could not attend parents day at school or could not support them at the numerous sporting games and events.
It is our families and support systems that created the care package groups that provided home comforts throughout each deployment.
It is our families and support systems that fear every phone call or passing car while we are deployed, not knowing if or when the barer of bad news comes.
It is our families that receive the traumatic call that their loved one sustained an injury in combat and must quickly grieve and head off to the hospital as we lay there helpless to comfort them.
It is our families and support systems that stood vigilant at our bed sides and throughout rehabilitation after being injured.
It is our families and support systems that dropped everything and rushed to our aid whenever we needed help.
It is our spouses, children, parents, and others that will remain at our sides caring for us as we developed lifelong chronic disabilities.
It will always be our daughters, sons, spouses, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, and so many more that will be there when we hang up our uniforms and leave the military.
It is our next of kin that receives knock at the door from a military Chaplain and the Casualty Assistance Officer dressed in their uniforms, where they do not need to speak a word to convey their message.
It is our loved ones that receive a folded flag as the only memento after we died. So today as you find yourself thanking every Veteran, look next to them and honor that family around them. Do not overlook the family or cast them aside, but hear their stories, triumphs, sacrifices, and courage beyond measure.
This is for my Wife, Cate, who took the call that dropped her to her knees, and who has spent much of the last 10 years ensuring all of my needs were taking care of, driving me to numerous events, and standing by as I had good days and really bad ones.
For my Parents, Linda and Tom, who dropped everything going on in their life to rush off to Walter Reid, and started pulling together the necessary resources and services that led to my full recovery, and who to this day continue this process.
For my Uncle David, who also dropped everything in his life to be at my side at Walter Reid while my wife and parents attempted to understand the situation.
For my brother and sister-in-law, LTC TJ and Gen, who helped my wife prepare our house upon my release from the hospital and consoling our parents.
For my Grandmother, who at 92 years old, makes me laugh.
For the numerous others who have spent so much of their own time to guide me through recovery.
Most importantly, for my daughter, Abby, who provides me with the ability to focus on the present moment while creating a future that is bright.
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