Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day to all of my friends in the US! Happy Monday to all others. Memorial Day means different things to different people – the unofficial start of Summer, sales galore, a day off work, a time to remember and give thanks to our service men and women who died while serving our country. This last one is what I hope we never forget to do – give thanks. But I also hope we can show respect to those still alive.

That seems a sentiment that anyone can relate to. Whether you live in the US or not, my guess is your country does something to honor the military. My father was a proud Vietnam Vet and I know that experience forever changed his life. I think it is hard for any of us to imagine what war is like and knowing that these brave men and women risked it all for us should give us pause. I am also grateful to their families – they paid a price too. Many of our vets returned from war forever changed and without the proper help in place they eased their pain the only way they knew how – drugs and alcohol.

It’s not easy to make the re-entry into civilian life after having served. I don’t pretend to know first hand but I remember completing some studies on veterans as part of my continuing education for my mental health license. Let me be clear that I do understand that some vets returned and continued on with life. They thrived, they had families, careers, all the spoils of a good life. But then there are others. Some returned with physical disabilities, some with emotional disabilities. Unable to make it in mainstream society they became homeless. It’s actually quite heartbreaking when you stop and think about how each of those now homeless vets has a family somewhere, a story they haven’t told. I’ll be very honest with you here; I stop and pray each time I pass someone holding a sign. If I have cash, I give it. It’s a personal choice and one that I get some flack about – but here’s the truth: even if my money is used to buy cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol I do not care. My handing over a measly few bucks buys this person some comfort.

So, this Memorial Day, I am asking you to look at our veterans in a different way. While we honor and give thanks to those who have passed and made the ultimate sacrifice, let’s not forget those who are here and struggling. I am not suggesting you give money, I am asking that you have empathy for these hurting humans. No one lives on the street by choice. Getting clean and healthy is not as easy as it sounds.

On a lighter note, if your day includes shopping the sales, time with family, or a day of Netflix, I hope it’s a good one! Thanks for stopping by today!

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