Thank You For Your Service...
First let me start by saying, we appreciate each and every person who supports us in our efforts, no matter how big or small, it all makes a difference.
This topic though, has been one discussed over the years with my fellow brothers and sisters, and I’ve finally decided to write about it…
Often, these five words create mixed feelings for many service members. I wonder if the person saying them is thinking twice before it rolls off their tongue. The symbolism of seeing a citizen in uniform is a trigger, reminding us of the freedoms we are privileged to live with each and every day. I ask though, does one really understand the weight carried with that service? Do you really know the history of service behind the hand you are reaching out to shake?
I believe there is an assumption, Men and Woman who choose to raise their right hand and speak the oath, were born for it. The reality is, most of us didn’t even know were going to serve until months before making the commitment. It doesn’t take a specific type of person to serve. No required ethnicity, age (to an extent), sex or upbringing. We come from all walks of life, all different backgrounds, to ultimately complete one goal, to achieve one mission; To Serve our Nation and sustain its Freedoms.
We aren’t born, ready for service. We don’t come from a special DNA which drives us to stand up and serve. We may sometimes come off as callused and undeterred from life’s challenges, but I assure you, that is FARTHEST from the truth. We are (ok most of us are) professional and strive to maintain an image we can be proud of. So, it’s easy to assume everything is ideal in the life of a Service Member... I’ll let you in on a little secret though, regardless of the Solider, Sailor, Marine or Airman, there was a moment (or several) during that person’s military career, where a breaking point was hit. We juggle many hats; mom, dad, husband, wife, caretaker, counselor, hero, friend and service member. We have to be willing to put any of those hats down at a moment’s notice when called to duty. I don’t care what their role or occupation is with-in the branches, at one point or another, the commitment has been great and the price of freedom has been high. We’ve missed birthdays, children’s milestones, witnessing first steps… We’ve had to celebrate anniversary’s over Skype, watched music recitals via FaceTime, and read the play by play of a championship game because our time was required elsewhere… we sacrifice these moments, knowing our service is for the greater good. We’ve held our bleeding brothers and sisters in our arms and felt their last breath exhale from their lungs, only to get back into the fight without question, and do it all again the next day. We’ve beaten our bodies through rigorous training, over and over, because we knew it was required to accomplish the mission. “I quit”, is not an option, “I can’t”, is not a choice, and “I just don’t feel like it”, isn’t acceptable. We do all these things without question, then take the service cover off at the end of the day…. at the end of a deployment… to care for our loved ones, as a husband or as a wife, a mother or a father, as a daughter or a son.
So before you reach out to shake the hand of a Service member, before you begin to speak those five simple words, I ask you to consider what their service really means to you. Is a thank you enough? Is it really even necessary? Or do you feel you can do more? Volunteer your time for free childcare, mow the lawn of an injured neighbor, cook a meal for a spouse who is keeping their home together while taking care of her recovering husband. Give your time and your effort, not just a handshake or a Thank you. Those actions are what really ‘speak’ your Thanks. We can’t do what we do without the support of those around us. We need to know you have our backs… and we’re grateful for your encouragement to keep doing what we do best.
Before you begin thank another member for their Service, I ask you... What have you done for a Vet today?
-Brittany M.A. Paus-
Mother, Veteran, LEO, Recruiter, Nurse, Maid, Partner In Crime, House Keeper, Driver, Cook, Story-Teller and The Encyclopedia to everything- According to my 8 year old son.