Love is a powerful force. Truly, the most powerful force on the planet. It has caused many to do foolish and crazy things, but many others to do heroic, self-less and life changing acts.
There are countless accounts of wartime heroes who save the life or lives of their comrades in arms. Putting their own life in danger to protect or save the life of another. What would cause someone to make such a sacrifice? At the core, love. Love of a brother they’ve been through thick and thin with, trained with, fought with, which forged a bond closer than blood ties or family. What causes the majority of those who enlist in military service to make that choice? In most cases, love of country and wanting to be a part of something greater and bigger than themselves.
The heart of a warrior/solider is a conundrum. It is strong, brave, hardened, fierce, bold, cunning, stoic, subservient, independent, defiant, kind, and last but definitely not least loving. Wow! That’s quite a mixture, but this mixture of qualities uniquely qualifies them to do and accomplish all that is expected of them in service to the United States military. During their service many have their hearts, minds and bodies broken by their experiences. They give all they have to give in service to their Country, keeping every promise and commitment they made. However, when they return home broken and battered many do not receive the care they need and deserve. The system put in place that promises to care for them does not live up to its commitment or promise.
Combat veterans are changed by what they experience. When they return home many times these changes are more than family and friends are prepared for and have a hard time handling/dealing with. Many veterans find themselves alone and spiraling deeper into their own personal hell. They may have survived the external war, but even after leaving the battlefield, the internal war raging within themselves continues. Add that to a system that requires them to navigate through hoops and a maze of red tape to obtain any sort of help, many veterans find themselves overwhelmed, depressed, and ostracized. Even those veterans who have people who care and support them struggle to find their place back in civilian life.
What can help? Love. Loving that veteran spouse or family member thru the most difficult times, sticking it out through the toughest of times, not giving up, being as much of a support system as possible. Volunteering with organizations that support veterans and their families. Raise awareness about the plight of veterans. Provide financial support to organizations that are working to help veterans discover a new normal and navigate civilian life. All those things are a form of showing love. Taking a moment to care about and do something to improve the wellbeing of someone who has sacrificed so much is a powerful act of love that will make a difference in a life. Sometimes those whose actions are the most unloveable (mean, hateful & nasty) are the ones most in need of love. We must allow love to cause us to look past the actions and raging outside of the broken and into the heart of that person. Love can prompt us to action and can heal the broken hearted.
In closing I want to interject that sometimes true love is tough… it’s being truthful and confrontational, standing up and not approving of self-destructive behavior and telling those we love things they don’t want to hear. Love is more than an emotion, it’s a choice. Today let’s chose to love.