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Our deepest Appreciation to Each and Every One of Those Who Served

freedom-isnt-free-line-of-duty

My big brother Bob enlisted at 17 and served our country in Vietnam.  Eagerly walking in his shadow, I remember him being tall, broad shouldered and, like all the other kids, admired his athleticism, leadership, and how he was always there for the little guy.  Bob left home like most of our heroes:  eager, patriotic and humorous. He spent two honorable tours in combat as a teenager, then a young man, before becoming morbidly sick with malaria and typhoid, and other unknown illnesses. He was not supposed to survive. But through prayer, luck, and dedicated medical staff, he came out of a coma, removed his yet undated toe tag, and was shipped home weighing only 130 pounds, his yellow skin hanging off his skeleton. It was hideous.

Bob returned, but the brother we knew was gone, replaced by a shell of a man.  He now was the shadow.

It took my brother many years to recover, and he has had to endure an entire lifetime of life-threatening physical maladies and multiple system failures from his exposure to Agent Orange, disease, and combat. We as a family cannot remember a time that Bob hasn’t been sick or suffering physically or emotionally since his service to our country four decades ago. His duty assignment today is battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as he still endures the psychological scars of kills and destruction.

Bob has never given up, but he has struggled to integrate into a society that four decades ago spit on him, and that scoffs at the challenges he and other veterans face.  He like many of our heroes struggles with a government that laboriously rations out benefits, medical treatments and procedures, as if he was begging for something unearned.

Sometimes we lose our heroes in one tragic moment. Other times we lose them slowly and tortuously over time. Let us never forget their sacrifice.

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