Think about the nation we live in. We have so many freedoms we often take for granted. We have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even the freedom to protest, as we saw last week with students on campus.
Now, imagine we never had veterans who didn't fight for those freedoms to be preserved. How different would our nation be?
Without the original veterans who served in the Revolutionary War, we would probably be under British or French rule today. Without the veterans who served in World War 2, the entire world would be a different landscape. Without the veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's a very good possibility we would probably have seen another terrorist attack similar to 9/11, or even Christians in the United States might be killed for their belief in Christ.
The point is, veterans deserve our respect and appreciation. They give up everything, and even risk their lives, for the freedoms we take for granted. They often return home and face a battle no one could ever understand, a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
My grandfather, one of the many important people in my life, served in the Korean War. From the time he returned following the war until his death in 2003, he would sleep during the day and stay awake at night, usually watching TV. Part of this had to do with him being used to working the night shift after his time in the military, but another big part of it was due to PTSD.
If he slept at night, he'd often have dreams where he'd be back in Korea, and these dreams would be all too real to him. This is common in veterans. Generally speaking, according to U.S. Health News, about one in every five veterans suffer from PTSD. This is a sad truth. According to a survey done by the VA in 2017, in Alabama alone, one-third (33.3%) of veterans committed suicide. Seeing that number blew my mind.
I have many friends, family, and mentors who have served in the military at one point or another. One is a youth leader and homicide detective Shane Williams, who I intern under at my home church. He has taken a lot of what he learned in the military and carried it over to his job as a homicide detective.
The point is, everywhere you go, you're likely to bump into at least one veteran. If you run into them at a restaurant, sit down and talk with them. Pay for their meal even. If they're dealing with PTSD, having someone there to listen will help them so much more than you could know. Having someone to tell their stories of their time in service helps them so much.
In addition, show them gratitude. Tell them “thank you" for their service to our great nation and for defending our freedoms. I am so grateful every time I see a veteran because without their service to defend our freedoms, I may not be able to worship freely like I do today.
My challenge for all who read over the next week as Veterans Day draws near is to thank at least five veterans for their service. Hear their stories. Share time with them, investing in them and being interested in them. Trust me, it definitely goes a long way. I thank all who have served for their service to our nation.