Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dear Soldier, Now That You've Come Home...

Disclaimer: While this is written with a masculine overtone, it is extended to both men and women. It was simply the preferable tone for this piece, of the writer. My deep gratitude goes to all those serving! ajh

Dear American Warrior:

Your feet have landed on American soil and with relief you've made it home - alive.

As time passes and you adjust to civilian life, a mix of emotions and questions become your reality. Situations, dynamics, people and you have changed since you signed those entrance papers, or left your home town weeks, months or years ago. Your mind grapples with the question of "What now."

I will not pretend to know what it is like being a soldier, maneuvering war zones, longing for home and familiar, hating the enemy yet loving your country more, seeing friends die, and having to leave others behind. Coming from a military family, combined with a zeal I have for our nation, I can however deeply respect the experience of what you have endured. 

A chapter of your life narrative has ended but your story is not complete. 

If you've lost a limb, are mentally struggling, can't seem to find a new life rhythm and feel clueless as to what your normal should be now, I tell you emphatically: do not give up! Now is when the true warrior quest begins! When people see you, they do not scorn you. Instead they wish they were like you, the embodiment of bravery and sacrifice. There is no greater honor than what you bear. 

When someone, like you, puts on the military uniform, salutes our flag, and commits to defend its ideals to the end; when that someone sacrifices comforts of home, family, or personal civilian dreams; when you walk tenderly to avoid land mines, ride the armored tank, fly the fighter jets, work behind the computer screen processing dangerous intelligence (and more!) all so that we can be safe, and free - you will always be a hero. 

The silent stranger who passes you in the coffee shop would say thank you if she was bold enough to speak. She would look you in the eye and say "Don't you dare give up. Your purpose at home is just beginning. Your role is the war zone we call life is not through. There is a place for you. You are needed, valued and loved." With passion and fervor as a voice for millions of Americans, she would tell you this: You are not alone. Yes, that girl is me. 

There is a place for you on American soil, Soldier. So many fellow Americans are eager to help you find your way. We've been waiting for your safe return. We are so grateful for your service, so humbled to be a benefactor of your sacrifice, and so eager to do what we can to give back to you. Please, let us help you in return. You are ours to care for now! 

Your country loves you. Do not give up.

Welcome home, Soldier. Welcome home! 

Sincerely - a grateful benefactor of freedom, all because of you.