Five years ago, in a hell hole called Mosul, Iraq, my husband was injured multiple times in multiple ways. He broke ribs, almost severed a finger, compacted some vertebrae in his neck, and hit his head more times than he can count resulting in a number of concussions. These injuries led to the diagnoses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. He’s not alone. It has happened to thousands of his brothers and sisters in arms.
America seemed to learn her lesson after the horrible way we treated Soldiers returning from Vietnam. That was before my time but I understand that our Veterans were not given a Hero’s Welcome as they should have. Today, most Veterans will tell you that the American people are very appreciative of their service. People shake their hands at the airports. They buy them coffee at Starbucks or pay for the dinner when they’re eating out. Countless organizations work selflessly to meet the needs of today’s Veteran by providing scholarships, opportunities, camps, retreats, guitar lessons, service dogs, financial assistance, mortgage-free homes, and so much more for our military families in need. It seems everyone in our country appreciates the sacrifices of our Veterans, except our government.
What do I mean by that? Turn on the evening news or scan your favorite online news source and it won’t take you long to find a story about proposed budget cuts for our military. The current administration seems determined to whittle us down to the weakest military in our nation’s history. Obamacare has ruined military health insurance making it completely unaffordable for military families to even catch the common cold. In the past six months I know two military families very personally who had to bring their sick children home from the hospital with immense difficulties breathing because their insurance would not allow them to be admitted. Instead, their mothers sat awake by their bedsides for days praying to God that their children would keep breathing.
It’s not just Washington that is ignoring the sacrifices of our Vets. The lack of respect trickles down throughout much of the US military. I will be the first to say that we are blessed to know a number of hard-working, dedicated, loyal officers and administrators throughout the US military that will go above and beyond to help the men and women in their ranks. Sadly, there are some that have taken their Commander in Chief’s position and care more about their golf game than their Joes.
Yesterday, my husband, my hero came home to find a white US postal priority mail box sitting in our wet driveway. The contents inside were quite surprising. A large envelope inside contained a number of certificates in both his and my name congratulating us and thanking us upon my husband’s medical retirement from the military. A box inside contained some decals, a pin, a DVD… and a folded American flag. His retirement flag came in a box and was left in our driveway. No ceremony. No presentation. Just a folded flag in a box on the ground.
Is this what it comes down to? A life of service and selfless sacrifice ends with a box on your driveway?
This blog post isn’t a call to action or a rally cry. It’s not even a public bashing of our government or our military. It’s the words of one woman who wishes everyone else was as proud of her husband as she is. It’s the words of a wife who is thankful that her husband lived to come home from Iraq knowing that not all wives are that fortunate. It’s the words of a mother who wishes her children had been given the opportunity to see their daddy properly thanked and recognized for the sacrifices he made. It’s the words of an American who is embarrassed and ashamed of the lack of respect in our nation for our Veterans.
Edited to add: These thoughts are my thoughts. Not my husband’s. He has never expressed any desire to have an official retirement ceremony. In fact, he’s the type to brush off such an occasion as he is not one that likes to draw attention to himself or receive recognition for the things he does. He has read my blog post and he understands my feelings, but he has in no way contributed to the writing of this post. This is my blog. A place where I express my own feelings. And I believe I have made MY feelings on the issue quite clear.