What Ever Happened To R-E-S-P-E-C-T??

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.

9 thoughts on “What Ever Happened To R-E-S-P-E-C-T??

  1. First of all, congratulations to the both of you, that’s awesome. I agree with you Heather on the treatment of soldiers and their family, my personal opinion is, people just want to push aside the men and woman who fought for, still fighting for and those who gave their life’s defending this great country of ours in order for ALL Americans to be able to wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night FREE, it’s a shame. But I am a proud American and I love my country, so I am sending my personal Thanks to all the heroes, especially Bob and my son Jay.

  2. I agree, Miss Peggy. I’m a proud American and I love my country. You will see me fighting to defend our military and to stand up for them when others put them down. That won’t change. It just hurts that the disrespect comes from within. Still… I’m a better person for knowing men like Bob and Jay and I am thankful that thousands more like them are out there all around the world. They have my deepest respect, admiration, and gratitude.

  3. As the mother of two men of military service, my youngest who served 8 years in the US Navy, and my oldest, who is currently a US Navy Lt. Cmdr of 26 years, AND also the Grandmother to a USAF Spec Ops hero, AND the wife of a retired 24 year USAF Vietnam-to-the-Gulf-War Veteran, I can genuinely say that I am EXTREMELY proud of my men, and I too am embarrassed, hurt and angry at the lack of respect proffered to our military men and women! I too have witnessed the lack of respect, the total lack of quality healthcare, the lack of support, and the lack of financial aid afforded to our military and their long-suffering families. I see the sad results of budget cuts at the VA….don’t even get me started on that one! Everytime I go to the VA with my husband, I am just sickened by the sad state of affairs, and the complete waste of tax-payer dollars, that the VA represents. The caliber of the doctors and medical staff is revolting…..our government hires the “bottom of the class” staff to care for our heros, the ones that either couldn’t get hired or couldn’t make it in the outside world, instead of the seeking out the best and the brightest. Our VA is nothing but a Managed Care HMO. It is aimed at “putting lipstick on a pig” to make the VA “look” impressive, instead of spending the money to give our troops what they were promised when they signed their lives, and those of their families, over to the military branch of our government.

    In a word, it IS shameful! And it is dis-R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ful…..shame on our government and the current administration!

  4. Thank you to your husband for his service and to you and your family for your sacrifice as well. I taught my five year old daughter to thank anyone she sees in uniform or wearing a retired vet hat. I am so proud to report that she will now chase people down when she has to just to shake their hand and say “thank you”.

    • I love that! My husband recently paid for the meal of a Korean War Veteran who was at the same restaurant we were eating dinner at. When the waitress told him that his meal had been paid for in appreciation of his service, the man cried. I’m glad that our current generation of heroes are being appreciated but it should encourage us even more to thank the ones who served before us.

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