about our veterans lately.  Maybe because I spent last weekend hugging, listening and thanking them. Maybe it’s because one of my most beloved veterans is abandoning me to Florida.  Maybe it’s because I’m headed to Texas to participate in an event that benefits veterans.  I don’t know…but here is what I DO know.

There are 21.2 million veterans in the US, from five wars:

WWII (4 years)

Korea (3.5 years)

Vietnam (10 years US involvement)

Gulf War (less than one year)

War on Terror (15 years and still fighting)

Our veterans in post 9/11 combat are:

83{9ffa98477ad9ae5230ceaf88023fa42cd91068973d6dcf54237a48e4b0f07a7d} male; 17{9ffa98477ad9ae5230ceaf88023fa42cd91068973d6dcf54237a48e4b0f07a7d} female

60{9ffa98477ad9ae5230ceaf88023fa42cd91068973d6dcf54237a48e4b0f07a7d} under age 34

58{9ffa98477ad9ae5230ceaf88023fa42cd91068973d6dcf54237a48e4b0f07a7d} married

 

While the numbers are nice, and I do LOVE numbers, what are the stories?  My beloved veteran moving to Florida is an amazing man.  He struggled with PTSD and anger for decades and finally got help through our local VA program.  He’s taken advantage of the VA health benefits, the VA mental health benefits, and the VA housing programs.  He quietly lives his life, post service and rarely shared what life was like for him until the VA program.  I’d known him for YEARS before I even knew he was a veteran.  I assumed he was, because I assume most men his age served, but I didn’t know.

When he saw what MMN was doing, and he has had a front row seat from the beginning, he was grateful.  When we (back in the day we were well under 1,000) quietly gathered thank you cards for him and I delivered them to him on Veteran’s Day, he cried.  I saved that voicemail and listened to it often until my stupid IPhone ate it. What we did was a small gesture of thanks.  And yet, the three men I delivered twine-tied bundles of cards were PROFOUNDLY affected.  By a nation too long in saying thanks, by mamas who took the time, and by the words shared.  One just kept reading and reading them.  One held them and stared at them a long time, read them and then was so moved his wife  had to leave me a message.  He couldn’t speak.  And Frank. My dear friend Frank, called, voice cracking and said thank you.  Told me nobody had ever said thank you to him.  I cried then, and I’m crying now as I retell this precious story.  He is so proud of what we do; says I’m amazing but I know I am not amazing alone.  WE are amazing.  WE say thanks.  WE gather our meager resources and bring a veteran home.  Bring his family here.  Rebuild a veteran’s kitchen.  We do what we can.  Because they did first.

Do you have a veteran who needs assistance? Needs a little mama love?  Do you know the wife of a veteran who feels alone?  Or ill equipped? I don’t know what we can do, but I know we will do something.  We may find information.  We may send cards.  We will not just stand down.  Ever.

And what of our veterans who struggled with PTSD and lost the battle?  We honor them on Fridays; we try to connect with their families; we buy them flag cases for the flag used at their final goodbye.  But that is simply not enough.  We are in the planning stages of sharing information for these families.  We aren’t professionals.  But we are mamas on a mission.  And we don’t quit.  We won’t.  We can’t.

 

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