family, Food for the Soul

What I Learned From a Veteran That Changed Me

Fire Up the Grill?

I remember gathering with my family for Memorial Day one year in Virginia Beach, VA. As we fired up the grill I told my brother-in-law and my husband, both Navy veterans, “Happy Memorial Day!” They both glanced at me like I was a little off. What gives? I thought I was honoring them by saying “Happy Memorial Day.” I had no idea what Memorial Day meant to them. What I learned from a veteran changed me and I won’t be saying “Happy Memorial Day” to veterans anymore.

Over the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of spending time with veterans living with PTSD. I spent time with a veteran last week and what she shared with me about Memorial Day gave me a deeper perspective into the meaning of Memorial Day through the eyes of veterans. I think what you read next will change you as well!

What I Learned From a Veteran That Changed Me

The reflections you are about to read come directly from a veteran I met through my job. She has become a dear friend in my life. I am in awe of her passion as she faces every day with a mission on her heart be an advocate for veterans battling with PTSD while she battles with PTSD in her own life.

“While the focus of Memorial Day is different from Veterans’ Day, it is hard not to consider the veterans who did not die in battle but who continue to suffer the pangs of war every single day. According to the Wounded Warriors’ website, 540,000 veterans have been diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with one in five veterans of the Persian Gulf War (Desert Shield/Desert Storm) having received this diagnosis. The National Institute of Mental Health defines PTSD as “a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event”. Many veterans, who have experienced the loss of war, will be somber on this honoring holiday. For many others, they might be seasoning meat on the grill, making a potato salad, drinking a beer, putting sunscreen on kids’ faces, or just enjoying a long weekend. Please take a moment and remember the men and women who died while serving in the Armed Forces.

What I learned from a veteran is my day off comes at a very high price, veterans are still in battle, and “Happy Memorial Day” isn’t the best way to express my appreciation to veterans. What did you learn?

LOVE our Veterans

The struggle is real, my friend. We can’t take away the battles many of our veterans face every day, but we can come alongside them and help them through their battles. Someone very dear to me is the widow of a Vietnam veteran. She shared how Memorial Day is a very hard day for her. I know that I can’t take away her hurt, but I can divide her hurt by supporting her.

Do you know a veteran or the family of a veteran? This Memorial Day and thereafter, take a moment to share a kind word of appreciation to veterans for their service and your sincere condolences for their fellow soldiers who died while serving in the Armed Forces. Take a moment to listen. Lift up a prayer for them. When you see a veteran or active duty military when you are out and about doing life, stop and thank them for their service. In all the times I have taken a moment to stop and say “Thank You” to a veteran or active duty military they have always appreciated it.

Take a moment to touch a life and remember, choose joy!

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Blessings and joy,

Dr. Joy oxox

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