I am a veteran, my father and all three of my brothers are veterans. I have been to war, separated from my family, with the danger real, living in the desert, in a tent with the sand blowing through the walls, sleeping on a cot with cardboard boxes for furniture. I know how it feels to lay on that cot, in the darkness, missing your family so badly it physically hurts. You silently lay there while the tears flow. I know the sacrifices made by every veteran and by those serving our country now.
I know the pain of leaving your family, your wife, and three young children, to go and do your duty in a foreign land where the possibility of not returning is a reality. I know what it’s like to cry when you make that final goodbye and not be able to stop crying for hours no matter how hard you try. You find a place alone and simply cry until there are no more tears left and then you pick yourself up and do your duty. I know the sacrifice.
I know what it is like to have your father twice leave for war in a faraway jungle where he would personally be in combat. I know what it’s like to watch your mother cry every time a soldier in my father’s unit died in combat and see the fear in her eyes as she knew my father could be next. I know what it is like to live in fear that someone would show up at your door with a message of condolence from the President. I know the sacrifice the families make.
I know the commitment, sense of duty, honor, and country that veterans and those serving now have. They would willingly give up everything, to put their lives in harm’s way for freedom, no matter what the cost. I know that feeling. I know the heart of a veteran.
I know the sense of pride of having served your country, doing your job to the best of your abilities because you recognize how privileged we are to live where we live. I know how quickly this could be lost if it were not for the veterans. I know because I have been there.
Duty, honor, country - these three words define the heart of every military person, veteran and active duty alike. These three words have dictated who they should be, who they can be, and who they will be. It is the soldier who hates war most of all because they are the ones who will be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. All veterans understand this. Please take the time to thank a veteran and to reflect upon the sacrifices they made for you.
Andy Lamb, MD