ONCE WE WERE SOLDIERS, ALWAYS A SOLDIER.
On September 18th many years ago this young lad stood before a Captain in the United States Army. He rose his right hand, and repeated the Oath of Enlistment. That oath is as follows: “ I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” What does that mean? Oaths, and solemnly swearing, and of all things to God! Websters dictionary defines an oath as “a (1) : a solemn usually formal calling upon God or a god to witness to the truth of what one says or to witness that one sincerely intends to do what one says (2) : a solemn attestation of the truth or inviolability of one’s words The witness took an oath to tell the truth in court.” As a former soldier I took my oath seriously. As circumstances would have it I wouldn’t stay in my position to the term of my contract.
During the time I spent as a soldier I witnessed the forming of a brotherhood. I witnessed laughter, fear, sadness, and unfortunately I even witnessed death and murder. Someone once told me that even though they never served they understand the hardships and trauma that we veterans face. I don’t wish to speak for all veterans, but it annoys me when a civilian says they understand, or worse when they say military life is a choice so the consequences should be thought of and soldiers shouldn’t cry so much about it. For me that oath never went away when I got out. When I got out my mission became helping other veterans. We will never be civilians. Since civilians will never understand, we only have one another. Just because I don’t wear the uniform anymore doesn’t mean I am released from my oath. And it doesn’t mean the mission is over, it’s just changed. The Soldiers Creed says it best and I feel it rings true even after you take the uniform off that last time.
I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
The bold sections are to be paid close attention. What is the mission? When you wear the uniform the mission is whatever you’re told it is. Take the hill, sweep the motor pool, raid this house, and mow this yard. Defeat is never an option. Tactical retreats are one thing, but surrender is never a card to be played on any table. The Devil will task you, test you, and push you to your limits. You must never quit fighting, never quit pushing to accomplish the mission. Today’s mission is brothers and sisters. The fight isn’t over when that uniform comes up. When you get that DD-214 it isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning of a new mission… Reintegration. They want us to fit in with Civilians. Sure some will fit in better then others, some the process is easier then it is on others, but the truth is, once a soldier always a solider. The truth holds true for a lot of veterans that military members don’t like civilians. We are brothers and sisters in arms. We have a bond most civilians will never understand.
The mission today is simple. Love God, Live by God’s word, protect fellow service men and women, raise awareness for Veteran Suicide, help other veterans when they are struggling with life’s hurdles, and live up to the code. Never leave a comrade behind. John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” King David considered to be one of the most beloved war hero’s in the Bible wrote the book of Psalms. Psalms 144:1-2 “Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; 2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples[a] under me.” Those who train for war see war, see and carry a cross, a burden for which most should never see. War is ugly, and during a war we fight, we serve, we protect our brothers and sisters. Sadly sometimes you can take the man out of the war, but you can’t take the war out of the man. The struggle, the storm often rages on deep inside, though no one can see those scars. Ecclesiastes 3:8 “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Getting to peace is the hardest part. It takes a soldier to be there for a soldier.
Today there will be an average of 20-22 Veteran Suicides. The struggle for veterans across the country to handle and cope with life and finding a new place in this world is the most difficult fight a veteran will face. When we see violence it’s difficult if impossible to remove that horror from our souls. For me, I found my purpose; I found my talent, and my new mission. Never underestimate how important it is to focus your energy on positivity. For each and every veteran who returns home the new mission will be slightly different. No person will be giving you orders in the same way, but listen to God’s direction. Don’t loose hope, and certainly don’t give up the fight. To all veterans, not just the Army, God Bless, and keep up the fire.