Saturday, July 7, 2012

Hidden Courage: A Tribute to a Young Veteran

This month, I translated a Little Patriot Book titled, When Your Dad Goes to War. The series, written by Maryann Makekau, helps children and their families cope with the many issues brought on by military deployment. As when I translated the Little Pink Book series to help families cope with cancer, I have been touched deeply by this small work of love.

Fifteen years ago, I served on Active Duty in the U. S. Air Force after completing a residency in family medicine. While stationed at a Special Operations base, I was privileged to care for Active Duty men and women and the families they left behind during frequent deployments to remote locations. I diagnosed and treated anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder often, and referred many families for additional help. Even years after the experience, I still remember the faces of countless people who sacrificed everything for their country and our freedom; they deserve our utmost respect, admiration, and gratitude.

This week I met another such family: a young disabled veteran, his wife, and their toddler. They attended a seminar to equip entrepreneurs who dream of starting a business. Along with the fifty-some other participants, this man shared his dreams, but something was different about him. His speech was slow, and his feet couldn't move much faster. Although he brought home physical as well as emotional scars from the war, his determination seems intact. I was inspired by watching him walk up and down every aisle, ever so slowly, but never stopping - his head always help up high.

When I looked in his eyes, I recognized a spark one might miss from his outer appearance. His eyes disclosed his hidden courage, his hope, his pride. I saw that same spark in my father's eyes; he, too, served in uniform as a young man. I have no doubt that, like my father, this young veteran will overcome every obstacle on his path, even if it takes some time, much perseverance, and the loving support of grateful people.

Papi

Still, the road won't be easy for him or his family. As I observed his wife help him walk, I felt led to pray for them. Their children. Their future. Their marriage. And, holding back tears of gratitude, I began to count my many, many blessings.

We all know someone who's served in the military, is serving, or will serve one day. Their sacrifices impact all of us, whether we recognize it or not. Although I no longer wear a uniform, I gained much during my time among so many courageous and selfless people. May we all remember them in our prayers and offer them a helping hand and an understanding heart every opportunity we have.

Grateful,
Dr Mari

“A new command I give you: Love one another. 
As I have loved you, so you must love one another."  
(John 13:34)

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