Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What is Honor and why is it important to Veterans

I've noted many times that I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to combat books; near-death combat experiences; or to write the best War Story ever written. I simply want to get a message out that there are many more Veterans and Combat Veterans out there that were injured mentally or physically during their service to our country than we know of. The walking wounded are mostly silent and I want to reach out to them and help them find the way into the light of a healthy life. I want to provide them and especially their families some form of relief and a measure of understanding that they are not alone.

So, a good friend sent me a message I wanted to share with you all. I've read it four times and each time it hits home a little deeper. This is just good stuff and it is so closely in-line with the message I want to get out in my work 'Service and Sacrifice' that I had to put it on the blog right away. Here you go:


As a combat veteran wounded in one of America’s wars, I offer to
speak for those who cannot.

Were the mouths of my fallen front-line friends not stopped with dust,
they would testify that life revolves around honor.

In war, it is understood that you give your word of honor to do your
duty -- that is -- stand and fight instead of running away and deserting
your friends.

When you keep your word despite desperately desiring to flee the
screaming hell all around, you earn honor.

Earning honor under fire changes who you are.

The blast furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting your

The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a hardened, purified
warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends -- your

Combat is scary but exciting.

You never feel so alive as when being shot at without result.

You never feel so triumphant as when shooting back -- with result.

You never feel love so pure as that burned into your heart by friends
willing to die to keep their word to you. And they do.

The biggest sadness of your life is to see friends falling.

The biggest surprise of your life is to survive the war.

Although still alive on the outside, you are dead inside -- shot thru
the heart with nonsensical guilt for living while friends died.

The biggest lie of your life torments you that you could have done
something more, different, to save them.

Their faces are the tombstones in your weeping eyes, their souls shine
the true camaraderie you search for the rest of your life but never

You live a different world now. You always will.

Your world is about waking up night after night silently screaming,
back in battle.

Your world is about your best friend bleeding to death in your arms,
howling in pain for you to kill him.

Your world is about shooting so many enemies the gun turns red and
jams, letting the enemy grab you.

Your world is about struggling hand-to-hand for one more breath of

You never speak of your world.

Those who have seen combat do not talk about it.

Those who talk about it have not seen combat.

You come home but a grim ghost of he who so lightheartedly went off to

But home no longer exists.

That world shattered like a mirror the first time you were shot at.

The hurricane winds of war have hurled you far away to a different
world -- the Warrior’s World -- where your whole life is about keeping
your word or die trying.

But people in the civilian world have no idea that life is about
keeping your word -- they think life is about babies and business.

The distance between the two worlds is as far as Mars from Earth.

This is why, when you come home, you feel like an outsider -- a visitor
from another planet.

You are.

People you knew before the war try to make contact.

It is useless.

Words fall like bricks between you.

Serving with warriors who died proving their word has made prewar
friends seem too untested to be trusted - thus they are now mere

And they often stay that way because, like most battle-hardened
Warriors, you prefer not to risk fully trusting anyone whose life is not
devoted to keeping their word, their honor.

The hard truth is that doing your duty under fire makes you alone, a
stranger in your own home town.

The only time you are not alone is when with another combat veteran.

Only he understands that keeping your word, your honor,
whilst standing face to face with death gives meaning and purpose to

Only he understands that spending a mere 24 hours in the
broad, sunlit uplands of battle-proven honor is more deeply satisfying
to a man than spending a whole lifetime in safe, comfortably numb
civilian life with DNA compelling him to anguish endlessly over whether
he is a brave man or a coward.

Only he understands that your terrifying - but thrilling -
dance with death has made your old world of babies, backyards and
ballgames seem deadly dull.

Only he understands that your way of being due to combat
damaged emotions is not the un-usual, but the usual, and you are OK.

Although you walk thru life alone, you are not lonely.

You have a constant companion from combat -- Death.

It stands close behind, a little to the left.

Death whispers in your ear: “Nothing matters outside my touch, and I
have not touched you...YET!”

Death never leaves you -- it is your best friend, your most trusted
advisor, your wisest teacher.

Death teaches you that every day above ground is a fine

Death teaches you to feel fortunate on good days, and bad
days...well, they do not exist.

Death teaches you that merely seeing one more sunrise is
enough to fill your cup of life to the brim -- pressed down and running

Death teaches you that you can postpone its touch by
earning serenity.

Serenity is earned by a lot of prayer and acceptance.

Acceptance is taking one step out of denial and accepting/allowing your
repressed, painful combat memories to be re-lived/suffered thru/shared
with other combat vets -- and thus de-fused.

Each time you accomplish this act of courage/desperation:

the pain gets less;
more tormenting combat demons hiding in the darkness of
your gut are thrown out into the sunlight of awareness, where they
disappear in a puff of smoke;

the less bedeviling combat demons, the more serenity

serenity is, regretfully, rather an indistinct quality, but
it manifests as a sense of honor, a sense of calm, and gratitude to your
creator - which lengthens life span.

Down thru the dusty centuries it has always been thus.

It always will be, for what is seared into a man’s soul who stands
face to face with death never changes.

Finally, I wanted to post another link and banner to the VA Families AT EASE program based here in Philadelphia. So, to my new friends Dr Steven Sayers and Dr Tanya Hess, thank you for your hard work to help our Vets!

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