Thinking about veterans

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Newman
  • 33rd Fighter Wing command chief
As we reflect upon Veterans Day, I ask you to ponder the sacrifices of our older veterans as I contrast my experiences with their experiences. I do not expect you to join the military nor live military lives, rather to just try to understand those service members better from years gone by.

First, their lives were disrupted, as their service to country was not necessarily planned in the same way as mine was. For those who were drafted during wartime, they had thoughts, dreams, and ideas about what they would do as an adult. Some were already living that life.

When sent off to a foreign land, they may have had fears, anger, sadness and feelings of helplessness when they were required by the government to depart from their communities, family and friends to take up arms against the enemy.  Some volunteered, but many were sent forward as mere teenagers.

Think of the self-discipline they had to muster in order to survive the training to deal with the loneliness associated with military service away from their families.

As for me, I entered the service Aug. 19, 1984 and attended boot camp with 40 other recruits in San Antonio as a volunteer in an all-volunteer force.

I had time to decide on the future, pack my belongings, say goodbye to my wife, daughter, family and friends. I had a choice.

Once serving, these veterans of years ago did not have Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and cellular phone calls to keep in frequent contact as many deployed do today. Instead, occasional letters were their lifeline.

During the 1980s, when I was stationed overseas during regular duty, I had it good compared to the older veterans. While the Internet capabilities were not around for me, the telephone calls were more ample, as were regular deliveries of letters. The average time between sending and receiving mail was a month.

So the biggest difference of today's veterans from veterans of the draft was freedom of planning the future and freedom of timely communication with those important to them.

Now, even if you are not a military member, if you see a veteran, especially an older one, I encourage you to give them a salute, since their sacrifices are why we live in relative peace today.

Afterward, you might say, "Veterans. Thank you for your selfless sacrifices."