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Being someone with health issues, I was never able to serve in a military capacity. It made me feel incredibly ashamed , especially after September 11, because I was still here and so many innocent lives were not. I felt I was less of an American for not being able to serve my country than folks who were in the armed forces. It’s a silly idea, but it stuck with me for a long time.

The people who go into the service are so diverse; they come from all walks of life for many different reasons. Some are because they don’t feel they have any other options in life. We give so much for these soldiers to be trained well, to learn skills and trades, and we pray that when they’re deployed, they come back safely. They’re a heck of a lot braver than I am, I think. I think my own personal experiences are nothing compared to one who’s been in battle.

I watched my share of Memorial Day concerts and shows over the weekend, and I wanted to cry, seeing these men and women who have given too much, I feel, for this country. Some come back whole, only to have lost their homes, their jobs, even family. Some return missing limbs, their lives shattered by what they went through in war zones. Sometimes they lose what they loved the most after coming back from combat. It breaks my heart.

We average citizens give them the means to be trained to go and fight overseas, we make sure they have the best equipment and weapons, but when they come back, I don’t think they get a fair trade. Servicemen and women come back unable to get the needed medical care for their injuries. It’s through charities or private organizations soem soldiers are able to get the proper care. How can we do that to our fellow citizens? How can we leave soldiers to fend for themselves when they’re at their most vulnerable, after making sure they have the best training to become a soldier, a sailor, airman or marine? They gave everything for us, maybe people they don’t even like, but they went out there only to come back and get dumped like so much refuse because there’s not enough funding for support services. I don’t get it. How can we treat fellow human beings that way?

I wonder how all those millionaires and billonaires who never served feel, sitting on their piles of money. Does all their investing in companies help those injured veterans? All those corporate deals and such; does that provide the necessary and costly medical care those wounded warriors need to continue living? I don’t see it, to be honest. The families of those soldiers are hurting too, because they end up sacrificing every cent to pay for the medical care their loved one needs. How can we do that to our own people? How can we leave military families to go bankrupt and homeless because we can’t be bothered to fund rehabilitation programs for servicemembers?

I wish politicans would see this, but I doubt it.  Maybe they’re feeling the same way I do, but are too afraid to say it because it would derail their political ambitions. All I am is just one average civilian who has too big a heart. People in the armed forces in this country are just as human as I am, and deserve the same kind of care as anyone else, if not more. They didn’t have to sign up to serve, but they made a conscious choice to do so. They chose to put themselves in harm’s way because they felt they had a job to do. I don’t know if I have that kind of character to do the same, and it makes them a great deal more courageous than I am. They deserve a better life, especially if their lives have been torn apart by tragedy and devastating injuries. I wish I had the means to give them a better life, but I’m barely scraping by on my own, and that makes it all the more upsetting for me.

Maybe I’m a bit of a peacenik, but I care about you military folks a lot, regardless of my other views. You deserve so much. I wish I could give all of you veterans a hug, but I guess my words will have to do instead. This is for all of you guys and gals who served and are serving. I won’t forget your service.