Today is a bit different than the normal things I post out here, but I believe it to be very important. As most people know that either know me or follow my blogs that I have adopted oh about 150 (and still counting) Marines (and other branches as well). They are all my bonus boys/girls. This really started when Chad was in boot camp and I wanted to get to know the guys he was spending all his time with and it just grew from there. They all started calling me "Momma Bear" and it stuck. I'm super good with that and I'm also a very fortunate momma bear as they continue to stay in contact with me. It is very rare that a week goes by that I don't hear from at least one of them or one of their wives. It's a great feeling to know they still remember us and love us despite the demons and some with PTSD they are dealing with. So here goes a different kind of post today...
I've been following a blog called "Voice of Warriors" http://voiceofwarriors.com/2012/07/responding-to-hidden-wounds/ and it has some really good information to offer to assist not only the veteran but their family and friends as well. I encourage anyone who has a family member, friend, or just wants to learn to help these men and women with these hidden wounds to go out and read as much as you can. It will make a difference in some one's life one day.
So here is the burden on my heart today and has been since before Chad and his unit deployed to Afghanistan. As much as I would give anything in this world to have my son back, I believe the Lord spared him from something far worse. Chad has my heart and I know my heart could not handle all that these young men experienced over there and especially after losing one of their own. Chad would have never recovered from the loss or the trauma he would have gone through and watched others go through. I hate that my son lost his life over there and as a parent I would have taken that hit for him in a second, but that was not God's plan. Now I see the toll the war and losing one of their brothers in arms has done to his buddies that came home. They are fighting these silent wars within themselves and very few people know about it or know how bad it is or how to help. This includes the ones closest to them (wives, parents, other family, and friends). Most of them are either too proud to admit what they are going through or just don't know how to put it into words. Another issue I see is these young men that were with my son don't want to add more burden to me and Tebo or to their families. That is admirable, but honestly, how can we help them if we don't know what is going on or how they are feeling. Some are fighting themselves with survivor's guilt and feeling as though they let us down, including letting Chad down. They didn't let Chad or us down. Chad was doing his job and he was where he wanted to be. He would have had it no other way. That is easy for me to know, because I'm his mom, but these guys promised to take care of him and protect him and bring him home. They feel like they have failed and let us all down. They didn't! The Taliban let us all down and they did it intentionally!
If I had one wish to make it would be that God restores their hearts, minds, and souls and allows them to pick up the pieces of their broken hearts and live a full and happy life. Let me take the sad stuff and them take all the happy stuff. That's what a mom's job is all about anyway. I can't just stop being a mom because Chad is no longer on this earth. I still have his wife to make sure she is ok and moving forward in life. I have these bonus boys to make sure they get past this the best way they know how and live out their dreams and I have their wives that need encouraging along the way to stay strong and never give up on them. If I was left for nothing more than that, then I need to do the best job I can to make sure I succeed. Yes, I have an amazing husband and bonus kids from him as well as parents and siblings and other family and friends in my life, but this has brought a whole new dynamic to our lives that we signed up for the day we told Chad we would support his decision to enlist into the Marine Corps 100%. We basically enlisted with him and our contract is not up.
We as Americans have an obligation to the young men and women that volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces to support them even more when they return home. Don't get me wrong, care packages are a necessity and I know most people really enjoy getting those together and take such pride in knowing they did something good for our troops fighting in this war, but it doesn't stop when they return to American soil. The real work to help and support them starts when they return home. Whether it is donating to a foundation like the Wounded Warrior Project http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ or Wings for Our Troops "in loving memory of CPL Chad S Wade http://wingsforourtroops.com/ or any other military foundation out there or mentoring a veteran that might be suffering with PTSD or hiring a veteran like so many companies are doing these days. Whatever it might be that you feel you are called or burdened to do or help with, do it. Don't sit around and wish you did or just talk about doing it. Get out there and really do it. We owe these young men and women our freedom, safety, and our lives. They sacrificed theirs for us and so have their families. This is the very least we can do.
I challenge each and every person who may be reading this to first and foremost ALWAYS thank a veteran (past, present, & future) every chance you get. If you have the opportunity to pay for a meal for them or buy them a tank of gas or just help them with a broken down vehicle, do it. I promise you will get back far more than they will every time.
These young men and women need us like we needed them after 911. Let's show them that we are there for them and we are answering the call just like they did. The only big difference is that you will still get to sleep in a bed tonight, you will still have the meals you want or need for the day, you will still be able to get into some air conditioning most likely, and you aren't leaving your family to go to a war zone and have to worry if you will make it back home or even worst, if you will be able to bring all your buddies back home with you.
Thank you in advance for stepping up and doing more or doing your part to support our Troops. Supporting our Troops is something we tend to say a lot, but how many of us are really doing that (outside of care packages)? Lets do more and lets do it often.