For this month’s article I have decided to take a more serious tone as to the role we all played in caring for our Veterans. First of all, I congratulate the Veterans Service Organizations for successful conferences and their continuing work in caring for Veterans. In some cases, the attendance was lighter than desired, but the leadership ensured the organization continued going in the right direction.
I am extremely proud to play a small part in making Minnesota a better place for all Veterans. And, as always, I am especially grateful to the auxiliaries for their work. I have always considered them to be the rock upon which many organizations are built.
When talking about leadership, I often use the analogy of a book that I have read. The title of the book was “The Red Badge of Courage.” The story was about a young man during the Civil War. During a battle he became frightened and ran. In doing so, he fell hitting his head on a rock which caused it to bleed. As the story goes he got connected to another unit and when they saw the blood stained bandage on his head they assumed he had been in battle. Since they were fearful, they looked to him as a leader. The story builds on how others trust in him helped him to overcome his fears and move on to be the leader they had envisioned.
Veterans are often referred to, by the legislators, as “The Hats.” Veterans in Minnesota, like the bell shaped curve, cover all walks of life and all types of military experience. They are able to say, feel, and value the fact that they served. Never once do they have to explain why they didn’t or couldn’t serve.
Today as I write this article I am preparing to go to a funeral at Fort Snelling. It is going to be a tough one for me. A fellow Veteran from the Vietnam war made the decision to end his pain. It is so sad because he was an enjoyable person to be around, and, for whatever reason, we seem to connect even though we met sparingly. While we’ll never know what the final straw was that made this fatal decision, I ask that each and every one of us understand and accept an implied tasking that we will take care of our own in whatever way that we can. It’s the little things in life, the smiles, the please, the thank you, and the jokes and the stories. It’s all the things that make us smile, make us laugh, but most importantly, be part of something greater than ourselves.
We are now entering a new era, the infamous “postwar era.” This is the era where those who loved you when they needed you somehow have a tendency to forget you. We, as Veterans, must be on the front line to ensure our Veterans are cared for, are honored and respected, and in some cases counselled to ensure they live up to a standard that honors all Veterans.
Thank you for allowing me to use this article to help make this fatal decision have value.