Honoring Those Who Serve

This post by Gayle M. IrwinGayle_Cheyenne bookstore

Today is Memorial Day in America, a time to honor those who gave their lives for our country. To me, this is also a time to remember all service men and women, as well as their families. Yes, we have Armed Forces Day, which took place less than two weeks ago, and we have Veterans Day, which occurs in November, but I think we can afford to remember, and thank, our military more than just a few times a year. I’ve been especially reminded lately of the sacrifice our military and their families make and more humbled and grateful for their service.

During the past 18 months, I’ve met and written about several Wyoming veterans who served in Vietnam. I’m part of a project spearheaded by the Casper Star Tribune and Casper Journal, called “They Served with Honor,” in conjunction with the state of Wyoming Veterans Services; I am one writer of at least six around the state charged with interviewing veterans of the Vietnam War and writing their stories. It’s been a very amazing, and humbling, experience.

helicopter_camoI’ve met helicopter pilots, infantry personnel, English tutors, and military trainers, among so many others. I’ve also met several wives of these service men. Each story is unique, each story is fascinating, each story is moving. Each story contributes to my story, my life as an American. One of my uncles was a helicopter pilot during Vietnam; he was shot down several times and though not captured, his memories are also very poignant. The Vietnam War was not popular in America; our military and their families suffered from the disdain and outright hatred inflicted on them. For that, our country should be, and hopefully is, ashamed. Those who served were doing what their country asked of them. We may not have liked that war, or any war, but we should always honor those who serve. They don’t ask to go, but they go when called. I hope Americans have learned from that awful experience known as the Vietnam War.

soldiers_military_graphic_sunrise or setMany military service personnel suffer from PTSD, not recognized so much 50+ years ago, but certainly recognized now. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of American service men and women experience PTSD, including more than 30 percent of Vietnam veterans. It’s also estimated that about 50,000 U.S. veterans are homeless, more than 8 percent of the entire homeless population. Some studies show a 50% rate increase of suicide among veterans (deployed and nondeployed) than in the general population. We need to do better by our military and their families. We ask for their service, they give it, and now it’s our turn to serve them by caring for and about them.

As the political rhetoric continues this election cycle, creating a combat of its own in our country, it’s time politicians got off their high horses and stop looking down their noses at others, especially those who serve in the military. As the Billy Ray Cyrus song goes, “All gave some, and some gave all.” Our service men and women deserve our respect and our help. Perhaps if the Commander in Chief’s kids or grandkids or those of our Congress members had to be the first to report for duty, more thought would be given to giving the order to go to war and more respect and care would be given to those who did, and do, serve.

On this special day, Memorial Day, let’s remember and honor those who serve and those who sacrificed on our behalf.

soldiers_blue sky with heart in clouds

 

Gayle M. Irwin is the author of inspirational dog stories for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Sage Finds Friends, Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, and Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with my Blind Dog. She is also a contributing writer to several anthologies, including the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Soul: Spirit of America, to be released in June, and Prairie Rose Publishing’s July release Pawprints on My Heart. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Spirit of America book

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21 Responses to Honoring Those Who Serve

  1. Doris says:

    Well said. Doris

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  2. Nancy Jardine says:

    A heartfelt tribute, Gayle!

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  3. Wranglers says:

    Gayle, you are so right. Something has to be dear to our leader’s hearts for them to want to see improvements. I worry about our military not having all they need to defend themselves and to represent our country. I am in an active military family, and all of it is dear to my heart. I’m glad you are doing the stories for these men and women. Thanks. I also agree that it’s good to honor the military and their families more than once or twice a year. Cher’ley

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    • Being involved with the “They Served with Honor” project has really opened my eyes, and my heart, to our military. I hope many of the living were thanked for their service as well yesterday. Thanks for your comments, Cherley.

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  4. Thanks for the heartfelt and powerful reminder, Gayle. Something we all need to hear and not just on Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day. Great post!

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    • Thank you, Sarah. I have such a greater understanding of what service men and women do and go through since I began the “They Served with Honor” project — how can I not remind blog readers to take these “holidays” more seriously? They truly are “holy-days.”

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  5. Neva Bodin says:

    Wonderful post, Gayle. The stories are fascinating, and I often wonder why so many suffer PTSD, other than the obvious trauma they suffer. I have read anxiety and PTSD are more pronounced when the activity generating it is not supported by those around the sufferer. I also wonder if the culture causes it to be more common and pronounced. And of course in the past, it was hidden or not recognized. Anyway, your comments are well put, and I think more should be done for the military in all respects. And it can start with each of us on a personal level when we pay for a meal of a military person, send a letter etc.

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  6. Joe Stephens says:

    Thank you for your wonderful tribute. It’s easy to take all we have for granted and we definitely wouldn’t have it without these brave men and women. I try anytime I see someone in uniform or that I find is a veteran to thank him or her for serving.

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  7. Thank you for reminding us how important it is to honor our veterans every day. Great post, Gayle!

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  8. Mike Staton says:

    Agree with you, Gayle. When we went to an all-volunteer military, it separated the general population from the military. Back in the day when there was a draft, nearly everyone had a loved one in the armed services. It’s easy to be pro-interventionist all over the world when you don’t have any loved ones serving. Every now and then I’ll see a story about a serviceman who comes from a wealthy family, either from the corporate world or the son of a politician. Sometimes I think we need to start drafting again….

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    • It’s a tough call what to do because politicians start the wars with little to no consequences for themselves or their families. War is awful, but it seems easier for those who only have to “declare” it and not actually “fight” it. Appreciate your thoughts, Mike!

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    • What I originally wrote doesn’t to have shown up, dag nabbit!! I appreciate your thoughts, Mike — I think that’s a tough call about the draft because yes we need people to serve, but political types don’t usually fight wars, they declare wars, so there are no real consequences to them or their families. War is awful and its tremors and turmoil felt for years to come by those who actually go to the fight.

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  9. katewyland says:

    Nice, thoughtful post. The way many returning Nam vets were treated was truly disgraceful, especially since most of them were draftees and had no choice. I was glad to see the attitude change over the years.

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    • I agree, Kate. That’s one thing nearly every Vietnam vet I interviewed said: they were despised even though all they did was what the Commander in Chief and others in DC asked of them. I’m grateful to write and share the veterans stories and by that, be more mindful of what they endured. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  10. S J Brown says:

    I totally agree with you. Unfortunately it hasn’t been until recent times that those who served in Vietnam have been proud to say they served.

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