I was blessed to spend yesterday with Veterans at the Washington County Veteran Services BBQ lunch. We hosted the lunch to honor Veterans for Veterans Day. I got to listen to many Veterans tell their story. As I look back on the two hours that I spent talking to both attendees and the various groups which had show up to share their information I remember one thing that everyone can do to honor Veterans on a daily basis.
Listening to Others.
It really is that simple. Veterans have experiences in their past that most people will never know about or understand. They have other friends who are often Veterans themselves, and if you ever listen to them talk among their brothers and sisters from the Service, you’ll find a common theme. Veterans remember, and often want to share their memories with others. No one who raised their hand and took an oath to defend their country came out the other side the same person. Regardless of whether they deployed to a war zone or served their time stateside, the military changes a person.
For many that change is a good thing, but for a significant number it also left permanent scars. In either case, they want someone to listen, to actually hear them. Not in a hurried “Thank you for your service” kind of way, but with no second agenda. Simply listen, acknowledge what they experienced, and let them relive those times without judgement.
So, the next time you meet someone wearing a former service cap of Vietnam, Korea, OIF/OEF, or with a pin or patch of former units…if you have the time OR can take the time, give a listen. You might find yourself coming away with a totally different view, and I guarantee you will make a Veteran’s day.