Physical pain is a badge of courage, honor and valor and it tells the world I was here to overcome and contribute to our nation more than my upbringing could hint. The rewards for bravery are intangible, despite the parades, VIP appearances, media attention or historical awards like The Purple Heart.
I always felt I would earn the medals; I just never considered living to tell about them. Think about it, what does a person do, when they don’t die?
Pain is reserved for the living.
All the years of “them” saying “you will never live to be 21” or “do it again and I’ll kill you” or “Drees, you’re gonna kill yourself!” The warnings were well-heeded and generally accompanied with copious servings of strife, anxiety and pain.
I have an intimate and unique relationship with pain. The stories of my youth illustrate how long pain has been a staple in my life. As an adult (barely), I made a small sacrifice for my country, a sacrifice that sentenced me to 25 years of indescribable pain. Pain that, until now, didn’t matter.
Since pain is my sacrifice, then my pain matters.
Emotional pain is not as easy for me to navigate. My muscle, tenacity and intellect are no match for my fragile wounded heart. This is why I insist upon frequent check-ups from the neck-up. No one thing works on everyone! So, you must stay around until you find what soothes your soul, be it religion, exercise, music, elements, crystals, medication or hypnosis, equines or art. Until you can find the connection to your existence and the universe you cannot quit!
Every year, at about the same time much like Independence Day, Memorial and Veteran’s Day, it comes to us, but generally without the holiday festivities, the fanfare and fireworks. Our Alive Days are a sick and twisted joke played on us as if retaliation is our toll for having escaped death’s grasp. This anniversary of the day that we agreed to forever remember how precious and fleeting life can be.
Then why does it hurt? Why the guilt? Are we to be punished for living?
Guilt and the need to contribute
How many of us wish we could’ve done more to help? How many of us wish we would’ve acted sooner? Did we make enough noise or did we go quietly into the woods to perish?!
If we, America’s Warriors, don’t help ourselves how long will it be until we see a change?
If tomorrow was Election Day, what would change? How long before any changes could occur? 2, 5, no 10 years.
Every year I feel the responsibility of ensuring the sacrifice of 29 other warriors is not forgotten! I often stagger, stumble and botch my way through this journey that is my Warrior life, but my mission is concrete: to Improve Service Members’ Sustainability skills.
We unify our resources to reach organizations that believe in transparency, that are in compliance and deliver impactful effectiveness. If you are tired of people depicting veterans as needy or not self-reliant, tired of scams in the name of veterans and want to know your contribution matters as much as our sacrifice, then join us.
Only together can we fulfill America’s promise to her Warriors.