“Thank you for your service!” the little girl shouted out of the backseat window of a white sedan. Just minutes before, my mother was talking to the little girl’s grandmother. They chatted about what was on sale at the grocery store, they talked politics, and they talked about serving in the military. You see, my mother and father both served in the armed forces; my mother in the Army and my father in the Navy. This grandmother, however, was from South America and she never served, but she did know the value of a person’s service in the military. She understood that what she has now was due to those who served, those who sacrificed everything to ensure that we could have a better and safer life.
My mother teared up when that little girl shouted to her from the car. Why? Because my mother has been thanked by many people over the years, but this one was different. She was young. She didn’t know what it was like “to serve:’ She didn’t know what it entailed. But she listened to her grandmother when she told her that “this lady served in the military. We need to thank her:’ Her grandmother was teaching her a very important lesson, one she would probably remember for a long time to come.
Thank. You. For. Your. Service. Five simple words. Five little words that evoke a wide range of emotions from those who did serve.
My parents served when they were young and moved on to the restaurant business for the remainder of their working years. Then they retired in Naples. To combat retirement boredom, both of them took jobs working with VFW Post 7721 in Golden Gate. Later they also worked with American Legion Post 135 in East Naples, where my mother was manager for a number of years. She was also active in the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, holding several executive positions and spear-heading the Girls/Boys State program (a program for high school juniors to spend a week in Tallahassee learning the ins and outs of our state government system – it’s quite the honor). So even though my mother was no longer in the active military, she continued to serve, just in a different capacity. Her service extended far beyond her time in the Army.
I’m proud of my mother. I’m proud of all of the ways she gives back. And I’m proud to be her daughter. Not only did she teach me the things that every mother teaches her child, but she instilled values, values like honoring our veterans and current military personnel. I never served, but I have always tried to give back to veterans however I could. They always held a special place in my heart… and now our veterans need our help more than ever.
The statistics are staggering. We are losing over 22 veterans a day to suicide. And that number is not inclusive of those who have “gone missing.” PTSD is running rampant throughout our armed forces and follows veterans into civilian life. After giving so much to this country, we need to be there for them beyond just thanking them for their service.
This issue is dedicated to all of the veterans and current military in our area. We thank you for your service. Now let us know how we can better serve you…