We have given thanks appropriately for all that God’s gracious bounty has afforded us the opportunity to enjoy. The meals are over; friends & family have gone home and the turkey, ribeye, fruit salad & other leftovers reappear as sandwiches, lunches and snacks while that leftover pie beckons for one last shot at becoming that next extra inch around my waste.
At this time of year, when the afterglow of Thanksgiving dinner is still heavy upon us (and will most likely take months to get rid of) my wife & I sit together and I take stock. How have we given back to the community around us? What can we do this year to make our community better? The discussion always heads towards charities, since that is most often the path we take, but this year it is more poignant.
A friend and Army buddy I used to be close to many years ago SSG Paul Rangel came back from Afghanistan this year. I had recently gotten back in touch with him while he served his tour and spoke occasionally with his wife and it was only then that I began to take in the seriousness of the trauma that military service can bring to a family. I’ve served in the military myself, but always as a single man and was never exposed to that extra pressure, since I served entirely during peace time.
Observing how his family struggled every day with the uncertainty and fear, taking strength and courage from those around them, be it from family, church or support groups. I saw what true love and dedication could do; the sacrifices it could overcome and the patience… It reminded me of the long nights I lay awake at night holding both my children until they stop crying and finally fall asleep, never knowing if their Mommy would wake up the next day. Waking up only to look me in the eye with those young, soulful eyes asking “Daddy, is this Mommy’s time? Is God going to take my Mommy?” I can only imagine how many times questions like that one come from young hearts wondering when Daddy would come home from overseas, and how heart-rending hearing those questions over and over again can be for a wife waiting for her husband to return, knowing that each day he faces danger and death.
It made me appreciate to a greater degree the amount of dedication and sacrifice our servicemen and women and their families endure. What I endured “happened” to me and my family; it was something that we had to endure and work through, but the uncertainty and anguish that serviceman and his family went through every day was the result of a conscious choice, a desire to serve one’s country and dedicate their lives to the defense of others. Choosing to take that stand, to weather the harsh realities that come with it and to remain true to each other through all of that…
That kind of courage and level of sacrifice has been the standard for military men & women for generations and continues to put me in awe of not only SSG
Another good friend of many years also recently lost a partner & close friend to complications brought on by his past exposure to agent orange from his time in Vietnam so many years ago. The loss of this good man tore him up inside. So many people pay such a huge price for their service to their country and so many of them and their family members are left to pick up the pieces when the shooting stops because our government does not do enough to aid in their recovery.
So many good people coming back from war are left to fend for themselves with inadequate support to recover from their injuries, from the mental trauma, from the battle scars or lost limbs. The VA is pathetically ineffective in caring for their needs or supporting their recovery, sometimes taking years to respond; so charitable organizations have sprung up across the nation to help take care of our returning soldiers. Organizations made up of caring people who have made it their goal to step in where our government has failed our veterans and their families.
So now that we’ve gathered with loved ones, stuffed ourselves and given thanks for all that we have, it’s time for all of us to think about what we can give back to those who have given everything for us.
Whether it’s the VFW, or any other organization with a goal to assist our military veterans and their families; volunteer, donate or simply offer a helping hand to a vet you know….
It truly is the very least we can do…
Just my view from the cheap seats.
Links to charitable organizations that assist our military veterans: