I’ve spent over 15 years in the military and watched many soldiers and sailors come and go. I’ve realized that the military career is not for everybody, and that some people spend four to five years in the military and that is enough for them. I have, however, spent some time wondering why service members develop family relationships with each other, then, once the deployment is over or their career has ended, they leave and are never heard from again. Why is this? Why do service members leave the military and the only thing we hear from them is a quick “hello” on social media? I understand that there is life after the military, but we should remember as veterans and service members that we are the 1 percent that stood up for our country and defended its freedom. We need to stay in touch with each other and keep our veteran communities strong.
Why Do I Ask This?
So why do I wonder about these service members? I ask, “where are they now?” because I sincerely care for each and every veteran who has put on a uniform and represented our country. This goes for those who have been deployed or those who haven’t. Whether you’ve been in combat, whether you were an 11b or a Navy Seabee, I care about you!
I also ask this question because the sad fact of the matter is that there are starving veterans out there. There are veterans who are homeless, and without jobs, even though they’re more than willing to work. There are veterans out there that need our help; their families need our help, our money, our gifts. There are wounded, sick, and injured veterans who don’t have the ability to get around and receive very little help from anyone, even with the little things like going to the grocery store; who need help in their homes so they can live in decent conditions. There are veterans out there without modes of transportation, who can’t get to and from work or to and from doctors’ appointments; veterans who are alcoholics or drug users, who need our support.
Veteran families—their sons, daughters, sisters, brothers—need our support too. They find it hard to make it day to day after losing their loved ones to combat. Their lives will never be the same. So, I ask each and every veteran out there: what if this was you? Would you want to help? What if this was your family who lost a loved one; what if you were the one who never came home, or who came home wounded? Would you want your fellow Americans and veterans to help you and your family? Every day, a wounded warrior leaves a hospital to return home. Will you be there when they arrive? Will you ask them if they need help?
What Should We Do?
In the military, we have a creed: no one gets left behind. This doesn’t just mean no one gets left behind on the battlefield; it means no one gets left behind in life. Here’s what I suggest we do: take the time to contact the soldiers you met and trained with, or those who were deployed with you. Contact as many of them as you can. It’s not that hard to find people anymore. Take the time not only to contact them by message, but to actually speak to them and find out how they’re doing, how their families are doing. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask, or to tell someone else that you need help! Finally, make a plan to contact other veterans or organizations you think may be able to provide that help.
Our job as military service members is to take care of our own. As I said, we are part of the 1 percent who stand up for our country. It’s time we really step up and help the ones who served with us. We can bring new meaning to the creed “no one left behind”. If we don’t take the time to ask now, it may be too late when we finally do!