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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #11

Hi, Military Family.

This letter is going to sound so random, but I guarantee it will host everything I want to say without the whole thing sounding sad. OK? OK.

Many people say thank you (me included), but I want to be specific in my gratitude. I appreciate your ability to say “yes,” when most of us would say “no way in hell.” Your yes provides us the opportunity to sleep well at night because we know you’re on 3rd watch. I know you hear it all the time, but it truly is a sacrifice and I never take that lightly.

The sacrifice you made/make causes me to pause at every soldier I meet and say “thank you for serving,” but I often pray that we continue to serve you and your family once your assignment is over. It angers me that some retire well and some end up homeless. When I taught veterans at a career college, it infuriated me to hear of the repeated runarounds of their simple requests at the VA or that their mental health wasn’t being taken seriously.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

That’s another thing… your state of mind. It takes a lot to do what you do — to be trained to be a machine on demand. I appreciate your ability to do that too. Undoubtedly, it is necessary. It’s the 2nd half of this call-to-action is the aftermath. I’m sorry that you have to experience PTSD in various forms. Yeah, I know… don’t feel sorry for you, it was an honor to serve, and you love your country. I’ve heard it all. My family tree and friend circle are full of Armed Forces and I’ve seen the effects. Your honorable nature doesn’t detangle the mess it can leave behind.

So, I pray for you often. I pray for your safety and for your fight. I pray your skills stay sharp and your family bonds stay tight. I hope that you never forget to tell corny jokes as necessary and to remember that you matter. Remember funny stories about basic training and don’t forget to help others thread memories together so they can stay warm out there too.

I appreciate you all. I love you big. Thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Day 4 – INYWA

Saturday was awesome.

So awesome that I didn’t post my feelings all weekend. I soaked in it until my happy waters receded a bit. I just naturally let the sweetness of what happened feed my soul. So, let’s catch up.

When I hurt, I serve. So, I was missing my dad one day at work (he passed away in August), and I thought of how it would feel to receive a note of encouragement at that moment. When compassion compelled, I went for it. I hosted a service letter-writing event on 11-4 between 11 AM and 4 PM. Couldn’t get any better than that.

Consequently, my letter-writing service event turned out perfectly. It accomplished exactly what I wanted – to create space and time for people to give of themselves on paper despite their busy lives. Not only did it accomplish this mission, but it provided a sweet spot for strangers to connect comfortably over a common goal. It sparked conversation, laughter, and camaraderie. It allowed people to pause for awhile and open up their hearts.

Secondly, most of the participants sat down wondering if they would have enough words to create a letter and they ended up having their inkwell overflow.  It was so touching to be so vulnerable to each other. The common comments were “I don’t know what I’m going to write.” and “I don’t think I have enough words to write a whole letter.” Once their hearts connected to their pens, they couldn’t stop writing. Consequently, some participants wrote more than one letter. I just loved how the outpour continued from the pages to the person near them through smiles and conversation.

Lastly, I was excited to simply see kindness run free. Although there was much to be sad about in the world, for 5 hours there was love to be had by any who desired it. Family, friends, and strangers gathered in one place to swim in the altruism of service letter-writing and every person left lighter and brighter in spirit.

I received 6 military addresses and those soldiers are going to get a lot of random love and encouragement in the upcoming weeks with the 27 letters that were written that day. That made me beyond happy… it made me full.

Stay tuned for the next I Need You Write Away (trademark pending). It’s going to be just as sweet.

Thank you to everyone that came, wanted to come, and shared their loved ones’ military address with me in confidence. It is an honor and a pleasure to share life-giving words.

Peace & Thanks for listening!
(And don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about the #bloglikecrazy challenge. I got you.)

#bloglikecrazy: Day 11 – Vet-debt-a

I thank military service personnel every time I get the chance. Today was another day to pay my Vet-debt-a.

My prayer today was that love would override hate. And it did. I saw kindness everywhere toward veterans and civilians alike. At the grocery store, the crosswalk, the parking lot…everywhere I went today. For every neurotic comment I heard this week, there was someone smashing the paradigm instead of shifting it around and casting the blame.

I am grateful today for the balance of selflessness to the cancerous ignorance that abides nearby. Most importantly, the Vet-debt-a is an extension of ourselves that is required. I cherish the truth that individuals decided to live a life of selflessness as a profession.

It is our duty to pay our bills of gratitude and honor to these angels in uniform. If you see a soldier, say thank you. I’ve never had one disregarded. Your payment will go further than you think, so pay it as much as you can.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of  

Happy Memorial Day?

Good Day, Good People!

I hope your day is going well so far because guess what… it’s a holiday weekend, baby! *insert public jig here*
We’re not out of school yet, but at least I have a class-free Monday thanks to the service men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. I teach a significant amount of veterans each quarter and yesterday one of them said something that struck a chord within me. 
After class, she expressed her annoyance in that she hates it when people say “Happy Memorial Day” to a veteran. I asked her why although I had an idea of where she was going with the conversation. She explained that the day commemorates the death of fallen soldiers and there should not be a “happy” greeting in front of it because it’s not a happy occasion/holiday. I listened to the rest of her spill and so did a few lingering students waiting to sign the attendance roll. Considering it was a speech class and I encourage them to consider all sides or “voices” on an issue, I took the opportunity to share why someone would put “happy” in front of their memorial day. 
My deceased military family members did not die in combat, but they did serve admirably. They were happy in doing what they loved… serving. Marines, Army, and Air Force run deeply in my family tree. Memorial Day for me is not happy because they aren’t here. It’s a Happy Memorial Day because I make sure to pause and celebrate their happiness. While I wouldn’t dare compare the pain of them being missing from my life to someone who has greeted the casket of their fallen soldier, I’m not sure if I’m completely in favor of removing the “happy” from the holiday. Their ultimate sacrifice was not happy, but their gift of service probably made them happy. Whenever I see military personnel (active, reserve, or veteran), I tell them thank you for serving. No matter what. Each time, I get the same response – “Thank you ma’am, “Thank you for your support,” or “It’s my pleasure.”
Maybe it’s ingrained, but I’d like to think they are doing something that makes them happy… serving others. 
I understand her disdain for people that walk up to a veteran and saying “Happy Memorial Day” with a pasted smile. I sympathized with her past military experience where individuals were not respectful of her fallen comrades. I acknowledged that Monday may not be happy, for she is entitled to feel and commemorate as she deems appropriate.
She is the one with a “V” on her chest, not me. I cannot step into her shoes and say “I know how you feel.”
All I can do is honor my fallen with a circulation of happy memories and allow her to remember hers as she sees fit. She’s earned it.
What do you think? Should we take the “happy” from in front of memorial day? 
Peace & Thanks for listening.
Photo Courtesy of American Soldier by Toby Keith

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