As my husband transitioned out of the military we noticed that Veterans don’t get the same admiration as active-duty members. It makes sense, but as I watched him serve his time in the military and then transition out, I’ve noticed that he still serves. He serves his family and his community with the same big heart that he served his country with. He no longer deploys to defend his country, but he serves his country through paying taxes, donating to charity, and voting. He no longer wears the military uniform, but he’s still a hero. He’s now a hero in disguise…and both types of heroes are what’s needed to make this country great.
Veterans and their families may not be currently in a position to stand and defend the country, but their sacrifices last far beyond their military contract. He will always have the scars from the physical toll that his military service gave. He will always be burdened with secrets he can’t tell.
He won’t deploy anymore, but I still get a sinking lonely feeling every night, the feeling that I’ve felt for years from nights, weeks, and months alone. I still fall to my knees crying and praying for every ship, unit, and submarine that gets deployed because I understand the pain. We will still pray for, and give advice to, those returning from deployment because we know that reintegration back into family life and set routines is not as easy or fun as the media portrays homecomings to be.
If you run into an active-duty member or their family, give them a big thank you, and even pay for their lunch if you can. The burden on their shoulders is astronomical. Please don’t forget about the Veterans though. Let them know that their short time in service, but life-long effects from the sacrifice are still worth it. They may have switched from one uniform to the other, from one occupation to the other, but they are still heroes. They are Veterans.