Thinking of my life and others

veterans day paradeWhen I think about my life at home and how society views me, I try to take a break from the negativity. I look at my brothers and sisters who are making a difference in the world. Bennett touches my life with his podcasts and books, including Motivation Monday.

I look at my sister, who struggles as a war vet but is trying to be the best mother, wife and veteran social worker at the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). I look at her sorority sister from the University of Michigan—a trailblazing Air Force Top Gun Fighter Pilot who just made the rank of Colonel. I think of Donald Coolidge of CogniToys, a fellow Iraq War Vet who just launched a new high-tech educational toy for kids, the Scout!

I think of my dearest friend Rudy Reyes, an actor who played himself in the HBO series Generation Kill, and how his message of positivity has reached the obscure areas of Mongolia. I think of fellow Marine veteran Matt Demaio, founder of Condition One, and how I recently read a great news article about his startup company.

I think, too, of one of my funny pals (Scott Maroney, Iraq War soldier and comedian/chemist) who has created a way to bring folks together by having mobile BBQ cookouts. I know a Persian Gulf War Veteran, Ray Guasp, who has just set up an emergency/disaster relief program.

I love the music made by the Recon Marine and Sniper, Brandon Mills. My heart is moved by his voice and words. When I read a vet advocacy piece written by Joe Bello, I am inspired to do more for my veteran community. When I read the pages of the book Bounty Hunter 4/3, about a man I recently met via Rudy, who escaped the mean streets of the Bronx to be an elite Marine Special Operations Sniper Instructor, I cannot help but say ‘Bravo!’ to the protagonist Jason Delgado.

There are many images of veterans. Many are needed in our culture, in order to counter many myths about veterans. I thank the veterans who are making a difference in their lives today.

On Veterans Day

american flagI think of many things, but on Veterans Day, I will think of these great things happening in the lives of veterans. And I will think of other things. I will think of civilians who have given me their time, as well as compassionate words and deeds, during tough times after Iraq.

On Veterans Day, I thank Prudence Coffey for making flags to remember a certain special group of veterans: Veterans of Suicide. These veterans are not recognized on Memorial Day, though they have lost their lives. These vets struggled so much with the war at home.

Home can be more terrorizing than a deployment. Home can retrigger fears that mirror what was supposedly left behind. What can we do to show more actual empathy, instead of just making gestures of empathy? This does not mean hero worship, but it does demand a radical, almost unconditional regard for those veteran faces and narratives that are facing you.

Here is my salute and words to all American and Canadian Veterans: Happy Veterans Day!

This article is part of a weekly column exploring spiritual transformation for veterans. To read the previous article in the series, visit HOW TO APPLY GENERAL SEMANTICS: Using the technology of the self on the Veteran Readjustment Journey»

image 1 Pixabay 2 030415-N-3953L-039 by Marion Doss via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) 3 Sandro Lacarbona 4 Beneath Highway 90 bridge, Richmond, Texas 1018091117BW by Patrick Fellervia Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 5 Pixabay 6 Pixabay 

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