I’m married to a veteran.
He was overseas on 9-11 and deployed repeatedly for most of the first years of our marriage. I guess that makes me a veteran of living with a veteran.
I am grateful for his sacrifices. I am grateful for the 4am flights, the all-night watches, and the Christmas he spent with his flight crew on an island in the Pacific. I am grateful for the birthdays he missed, the holidays he gave up, the discomfort he endured. I am grateful that the plane he flew always touched down, despite engine failures, lightning strikes, and radio messages from countries that threatened harm.
I am grateful that our marriage has endured throughout nearly a dozen years of comings and goings.
But I am just as grateful for the work he has done since leaving the service. He has dedicated his life to helping other veterans continue to serve others even after they leave the military.
I know a lot of civilians who are unsure how to celebrate veterans day. They might watch a parade. They curse under their breath when the bank or post office is closed. Some moms I know gathered blankets and coats to offer a local shelter.
But if I could give veterans one gift on this day, it would be to honor their strengths, not their deficits. To make sure that each and every one of them knows they are valuable RIGHT NOW. And to remind them how much more they still have to give.
Maybe the best way to honor veterans is to make sure that no one is alone today.
For any veteran transitioning from active duty to civilian life, or for anyone who seeks to support that transition, check out the following organizations.
And Happy Veterans Day.
UPDATE — 11/11/2015
Listen to the Dad half of DadvMom.com talking about the importance of Veterans Day on the Diane Rehm Show today.