This is a long post, but I ask that you read to the end. We military families need help.
Yesterday was Veterans’ Day.
Many of us spent a significant amount of time pouring over our Facebook Timelines reading posts about veterans and thanking them for their service. And rightfully so.
But what are we doing today?
Those veterans who have been wounded, physically, mentally, or emotionally, have to get out of bed and continue to cope with their wounds. They will go to physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, surgical pre-op appointments, and follow up exams. For them, November 12th, 13th, 14th, etc. continue to be Veterans’ Day.
Being a veteran or the family of a veteran is not easy. No one ever said it would be. And I think that those of us who are in that position accept that as fact.
And yet it seems that the burden of our nation’s defense is falling on fewer and fewer families. (Of course I don’t have proof of that, but it seems that way to me.)
For example, yesterday many of the posts on my facebook timeline heralded uncles, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, cousins, etc. as veterans. It amazed me how so many families had so many veterans in their bloodlines. Fellow Army wives posted pictures of themselves in uniform before they became Army wives. For many of these, I had no idea they had served!
And as I get older, I am seeing more and more pictures of military children who are growing up and are planning to enter the military themselves. They understand the realities. They know they have a good chance of being gone for holidays and birthdays. They know that they are “signing a blank check” with their lives to the United States. And yet, they understand the importance of doing so.
But there are those out there who would detract.
Upon announcing their intent to apply to the United States Military Academy, my daughters have been met, over and over again, with frowns and questions.
“Are you SURE you want to do THAT?” people ask.
“You are so smart. You could do ANYTHING.” they say.
“You are so pretty. Why do you want to put yourself in that situation?” (Seriously? Because pretty girls at other schools are never in danger? Really?)
As a military family, we let these things roll off our backs. We are used to these kind of statements.
But I worry about the kids who want to enter the military who don’t have supportive families. I understand that there is real fear in this unknown. They are offering to stand up and do the bidding of our nation, to answer the call of their civilian leaders and the people of this country, whether or not they agree with the motives or premises. They are truly giving and serving.
Please, if you are a family member of someone who is considering military service, whether it is enlisting, applying to an academy, or applying for an ROTC scholarship, please do not plant seeds of doubt. The military experience itself will be tough enough and will weed out those who really aren’t meant for it. Right now they need your support or at least your willingness to learn more.
Unless more families are open to their children pursuing military service, the burden will continue to fall on fewer and fewer families. And these families are stressed, worn, and in need of some backup. Don’t get me wrong…most of us would not leave the military life by choice. We are proud and we have learned to be strong when we need to be. And we are compassionate as can be when a fellow military family is suffering.
But our ranks are shrinking.
Please, in the aftermath of yesterday’s celebrations and outpourings of gratitude, support someone in your life who is considering military service. Help them to learn more about it before bringing up the obstacles. As a mom, I know it is scary to think about your son or daughter being in harm’s way. I get it. But, someone has to defend our great nation, even with all her flaws. And we will be a stronger military and indeed a stronger nation if more families, rather than fewer, are invested in the defense of the country’s interests.