Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Our Turn to Serve

As 9/11/13 comes to an end, it's time to reflect upon the ideal of service.

Specifically, the sacrifices of those who wear or have worn our nation's uniform. 

And their families and friends.

Most of us are aware that nearly 7,000 Americans have given their lives in our defense since 9/11. Fewer realize that our country remains at war - see SSGT Todd Lobraico.

This speaks to something - the horrors of war endure.

Sadly, the pains of conflict extend beyond those we've lost. Alongside the fallen, thousands of Americans have returned home to us with serious injury - both physical and mental. Those burdens, immortalized in the ongoing anguish of suffering families, serve notice to our enduring responsibility as Americans. As Lincoln put it''to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.''

Our duty is clear.

Sympathy and services are important, but alone they're insufficient. Veterans need our respectful understanding - as informed fellow citizens. And as the IAVA notes, this isn't a simple task.

Nonetheless, it is our responsibility.

Together, we must pressure our politicians to look beyond research and services. Increasingly, our support must center with the grassroots of the veterans movement -patriots like my friend, Pete Miller.

It's our collective obligation to accept that just as we're all unique individuals, veterans are also individually unique in their needs.

It's true, some veterans immediately excel in civilian life. Regrettably however, some struggle. Some veterans meet financial hardships. Some fall into crime. Some suffer from psychological trauma. Some face a combination of challenges. 

Yet, there's an enduring truth to these differentials. If veterans had access to a more responsive, individually structured base of guidance or assistance, they'd be far better served. 

Building that network is our mission. Their suffering should not be personal.

           Yes, as today closes, the lost must bear our ultimate attention. 

But just as we enshrine our fallen in our hearts, so must we remember the sacrifices of our foreign partners. Men like Major Sean Birchall. Women like Captain Nichola Goddard

Our military personnel are the most decent inhabitants of our world. Like the veterans of World War Two* (and all our other conflicts), they're courageous, determined and honorable. 

In life and death, we must always remember them.

*- If interested, see my US grandfather and my UK grandfather- HR Kerr

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