Have you ever donated to a veteran’s organization? Have you told a veteran “thank you”? Every now and again people will open their pockets to help the veteran plight. Sometimes people will go another step and volunteer with veteran organizations or set up a fundraiser to help a veteran with a particular need. I am often so humbled by the pure kindness of those organizations that I have seen rise up since 9/11. There are more programs and resources for a combat veteran now then there were when our brothers and sisters came home from Viet Nam. It is absolutely in part of the efforts of those veterans who wanted to be sure that we weren’t left with the same treatment they endured.
I can only speak for myself, but I am confused, nearly daily, as to how I can have so many high profile, influential, and successful people want my thoughts and opinions on matters; yet at the same time, have so many others not care about my existence or even notice I am an actual human with feelings. How can I be both a lifeline to one person who is respected by so many and a nobody to my peers? How is it that there are people who are willing to invest time and money to fly halfway across the country to ask me questions in person because they value my thoughts, yet I could die in my house, and no one would notice my absence? How can my neighbors and peers loudly proclaim on social media their generosity for veterans, when they are so far removed from the actual issues? When they have a real life combat veteran, struggling, screaming for help, but pushes her aside? It’s so much easier to write that check to support veterans than it is to sit down with the one you know needs it, right? You’ll see in this clip, Beth Moore is good at witnessing to the unchurched. She was prepared to, even if it made her uncomfortable; God didn’t ask that of her. She had to do something different, less comfortable.
Most of the female veterans I know are very independent and strong willed women. You will see them organizing great events, helping launch non-profits, writing books, running for office, or making movies. I also know women with the same attributes who sit at home dying inside because they feel terribly lost. Their independence makes asking for help nearly an impossible task. When they do reach out and their requests for help are met with the passing off to someone else or brushed aside, it kills a little more of their confidence in a normal life.
There’s this constant balancing act of wanting people to know the cool things you have done in your life since something like less than 1% of Americans have done what you have done, and also wanting to fit in. I want to tell people the cool parts of my service, and if they are curious about the not so pleasant parts, I can just refer them to one of the documentaries I am in (Halfway Home). I wish people would want to know why I want to sleep all the time, or why I don’t want to be in large crowds. I think people are much more comfortable writing a check, though, getting their bumper sticker about veterans, then helping or getting to know the ones right there.
If you are a veteran, or family of a veteran of any era, any engagement status, what was it like when you came home? How have you been treated? What are some of the ways you have tried to bridge the gap with civilians? If you are not a veteran or family of a veteran, what makes you uncomfortable about speaking to veterans or being around us? Is it our insanely magnetic personalities? Or the fact that we don’t take life too seriously?