Thinking of Our Veterans

When politicians say, "Support our troops" or "Honor our troops," it sounds bossy, hypocritical, and self serving to me. The more I listen to politicians, the more I realize that they are obsessed with power and their careers. To get power and secure a long career, they avoid standing alone, so they bury themselves in their political party and its agenda. Then, money and support from their political party pours in.

When I hear politicians talk about our troops, I get the feeling they are alluding to our soldiers as belonging to their political party. The honorable solder I envision is of neither political party. That soldier embraces ideals that are higher and transcend petty politics. His or her values and character must stand up against life and death struggles.

When I think of our veterans in a positive way: that is, when a politician is not in my face using our military forces as a propaganda tool, I think of an individual soldier; that soldier's sacrifices; the parents, spouse, and children s/he had to leave behind. I see that soldier following orders with unquestioning and unwavering obedience. S/he is asked to risk his or her life and to kill.

S/he is required to be courageous. REQUIRED! That's the minimum required of every solder and it is a high standard. I also picture that soldier as being good and making good decisions, representing the United States with honor. By "good," I mean possessing character s/he manages to cling to through adversity while looking outside self to do good under the circumstances; disabling the enemy, supporting each other, and honoring innocent life.

When that solder returns home s/he is wasted and tired inside. S/he has faced life and death fear. S/he has lost friends. S/he may have lost body parts. S/he may have enjoyed killing the enemy and s/he cannot express that and it has no context here at home. S/he needs time to decompress and reorient. S/he needs time to appreciate and adopt civilian peacetime values.

We were not generous in giving that soldier armor while they were abroad in the fight: body armor or an armored vehicle. When s/he returns home, we are not generous with giving the veteran time or support to regain peacetime mental health. That soldier pushes on without complaining the best they can as they always have. Some soldiers adapt to civilian life and some don't.

Why politicians don't support our troops and veterans more than they do, while talking so much about it, escapes my comprehension.

Thank God for the good and honorable soldier. Here is my prayer for you from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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