Thursday, October 30, 2008

Personal Insight on Supporting Our Troops

By Mike Ward

I was asked about my thoughts on why people should support our troops. I don't feel qualified to tell people what to do without them asking me personally, so I thought I would just share some personal insight.

I could restate the obvious, men and women are in harms way, thousands of miles from home, in extreme climates and less than favorable living conditions (most worse off than what prison inmates have here). Most of you, by now know all that already.

Did you know that military members are not only the 24/7 sailor and soldier, but are also the 'citizen soldier.' Fast food employees, doctors, stay at home moms and many others who volunteer their time to support our nations freedom. All of them, full time soldier and citizen soldier, have been taken away from their normal routine and thrown into a completely different lifestyle. They leave their homes, their 9-5 jobs, and their belongings to serve our country, some with no one behind to watch over what they leave. They completely change their lives with little time to really prepare for what is to come. In my case I had 3 days to prepare to leave my 'normal' life behind for a year (maybe two).

All of them, the full time military and the reservist face new challenges. Many leave behind families that are used to having them around, used to having them there to handle 'their share' of the responsibilities at home. They leave not knowing how their families will handle the separation and the added burden of them not being there. They carry with them the guilt of not being home to do their fair share. Some mobilized reservists have to deal with significant pay cuts due to their reserve pay not being equivalent to their civilian pay. I served with a man who lost 40% of his salary due to his mobilization.

And while these men and women are away they hear the news, headlines of what a mistake it is for them to be fighting this war, stories of anti-war protesters who have either forgotten why, or have no appreciation for, the freedom of speech continuously protected by America's military. These men and women continue to do their mission for an apparently ungrateful nation. It's not the entire nation, but unfortunately, it is often the loudest part.

Yet they continue to do the job. They miss anniversaries and birthdays, some times even births. They work in stressful, potentially deadly surroundings, with the only people they can vent to being others in the same situation. Their days are a combination of fatigue, injuries, the threat of death, and the loss of colleagues while 'on the job'; and worries about home, confusion as to why they are even there caused by all the negative press, loneliness and more while they have 'free time', but, they are really always on the job. They have little or no option to hear a kind word, feel a loved ones touch or just get a hug.

I could go on.

So, even though I won't tell you why you should support our military, I would like to ask you for a small favor. Tonight, after you tuck your kids in and kiss your spouse good night, or tomorrow morning while you have a hot Starbucks and plan your day, try to think of a reason why you shouldn't do something to show your support.

Thanks for listening.

Mike Ward
Commander, US Navy, Retired


If you've been looking for a way to support our troops, now you can. Participate in one of our many projects or register with eMOM and sign up to correspond with service members one-on-one. Learn more about our holiday project to support our troops.

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1 comment:

BlackJack | eMail Our Military said...

Really great post. Nice to see so many people from varying backgrounds getting involved.