Every veteran gives something up to become a veteran. But in doing so they earn something else. What each of them gives up is unique. For some it is limbs or eyes, for others it is relationships with loved ones that broke apart, and for others it is the memories that haunt them in the night.
What every veteran gains is also something unique. Leadership skills, and follower skills. Understanding the measure of their own courage. The comfort with working on the ragged edge of safety for an indefinite amount of time. A wicked dark sense of humor.
It is true that military service does break some people, and some never make it back. But that is just life, the same uncertainties and dangers exist no matter your chosen profession. The only nobility in military service is you know there is a much higher chance of getting broken or killed.
The family members have to pay the price too, living with the communications blackout periods, living with the constant fear that two Soldiers in full dress uniform will knock on your door to give you the worst news of your life. Moving your family across continents and oceans to a new duty assignment every couple of years. We don’t have a national holiday celebrating the military family, but their sacrifices are every bit as meaningful. Especially for the children who came into the life through no choice of their own.
One final though…
A veteran, is anyone who has something worthwhile to pass on, even if they can’t tell it themselves anymore. To all my buddies still alive, carry on. To all my buddies not, we will carry your memory forward.