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As we Approach Veterans Day

As we approach Veterans Day we look to pay tribute to those who have given us all so much. Here at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone we’re are fortunate to not only serve our nation’s heroes every day, but we work alongside them as well. Here is a look at what Veterans Day truly means from our very own Brigadier General (ret) Michael Flemming.

On this Veterans Day, as on similar days in years past, I call to mind the contributions of the millions of men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces. We owe an unending debt of gratitude for the sacrifice our veterans have made, the pain they endured, and the hardships they suffered to ensure our country’s flame of freedom would never be extinguished. Throughout the long history of our nation we have been blessed with heroes willing to sacrifice their freedom to protect and defend our own. Our veterans have established a legacy of sacrifice, commitment and patriotism that is unsurpassed in human history.

Our veterans are drawn from several generations and many backgrounds. They’re Americans who remember the swift conflict of the Persian Gulf War; and a long Cold War vigil; the heat of Vietnam and the bitter cold of Korea. They are veterans who served under MacArthur and Eisenhower and saved the liberty of the world. They are young men and women with recent memories of battles on mountains and in deserts of foreign lands. I am proud and honored to say that I have served alongside some of these heroes. I have worn the uniform and stood beside them as only a fellow brother or sister in arms can. That’s why I can speak to their struggles and their bravery so confidently and passionately.

I’ve witnessed their challenges upon returning home from the battlefield. I’ve watched them hug their families, as I have hugged mine, knowing all the while the invisible wounds of war are real within some of our nation’s greatest and strongest.

Today, people often speak of heroes as the athlete who scores the winning touchdown, the Olympic gold medal winner, or a popular actor. While they may do heroic deeds within the context of their sport or trade, these are not heroes in the truest form of the word for they do not risk themselves – their lives or the chance of sharing that hello embrace with their loved ones again. Heroes are those who do all of this so others do not have to.

It should go without saying that the willingness to sacrifice oneself to this degree comes with the potential for great loss. Many of us veterans have lost a fellow brother or sister in our nation’s conflicts and have struggled with enduring that loss. We have left our families so often we face hardships trying to make up for the time a part. We have moved on a moment’s notice, learned to adapt, then asked to adapt again.

For all of these intensely unique facets of a life of service we must remember there is no shame in asking for help. Just as we would see a physician for a broken bone our mental wellbeing deserves the same treatment. And as Military culture demands that we serve together and have each other’s backs; as a nation this is the least we can offer in return in order to ensure our patriots realize we are here to help them heal.

We should make it a priority to honor those who have served and those who continue to serve, not only on Veterans Day but every day. We can do this by volunteering to help those veterans who are still with us, by assisting a family who is grieving the loss of a service member, by visiting those injured in the line of duty and help them realize a new life. There are veterans and family members who may just need someone to talk to – a shoulder to cry on, please remind that is normal. Learn about what resources are available for veterans in case they need something beyond what you can provide. You can find a way in your life – at work or home, at church or a youth group meeting, wherever – to honor their sacrifices, listen to their stories, cherish their memories and ensure our military service men and women and their loved ones know they are never alone – not on Veterans Day or any day. There is always help and together we can provide it.

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