STRENGTH – as defined by Merriam Webster: “the quality or state of being physically strong; the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force; the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined or effective way.”
Strength is the foundational word that comes to mind whenever I think about our armed forces personnel and their families/loved ones. It takes not only physical strength to be a part of America’s military fighting force, but it takes mental toughness as well. Those same attributes are displayed by the families and loved ones of our military. Every battle/situation a person faces is first determined (won or lost) in their mind. Where your mind goes, the rest of you follows is a true statement. If you believe you can or if you believe you can’t, you’re right! So to complete bootcamp, fight in a war, adjust to life after leaving active military service, all take a mental toughness and fortitude to successfully accomplish.
I see amazing strength in the faces of those elderly veterans at the VA Hospital who are battling not only sickness, but their own time worn and weakened bodies. Yet they still manage to return a smile and even provide a word of encouragement as they leave from their Chemotherapy treatment. Equally as strong are those veteran’s spouses and family members who are always faithfully by their side. Whether pushing them in their wheel chair around to their various appointments, asking questions, navigating the workings of the VA or sitting quietly by their bedside as they sleep, those spouses and family members exude a quiet, unassuming strength.
Spouses, whether of an active or retired military member, are some of the strongest people you will ever meet. Spouses hold down the home front when their solider/warrior is away, making sure life back home goes on and all is taken care of. Spouses provide support and encouragement for their solider and are the anchor back home that gives them hope and security while doing his/her job of defending our country and the liberties and way of life we enjoy. Spouses fight back tears during those phone calls and Skype times to make sure their solider doesn’t worry about them, but instead is reassured and encouraged and made to feel loved. Then cries when no one is around.
Strength is seen in the parent who sends their son or daughter off to bootcamp and/or war. Though worried out of their mind for the safety of their child, that they love more than anything on this planet, they tell them how proud they are, encourage them, pray for them and send them care packages. They do whatever needs to be done to support them.
Strength is seen in the solider/warrior that returns from combat, scarred physical and/or mentally from the horror and trauma they witnessed and endured. They are lions living among lambs…. the training and way of life they learned in combat that kept them alive makes them feel like an outsider and an alien when they come back to civilian life. Day in and day out they try to fit in and conform and readjust to the world they return to. Although many times uncomfortable, fighting hopelessness and feeling like an outcast they still keep trying and fighting to survive.
I want to close out the topic of strength with this…. It is NOT weak to ask for help. True strength is knowing when you need help and then asking for it. No matter where you may see yourself in the examples I’ve written about above, find a support system for yourself. Reach out to a friend, family or someone you trust. Go online and find one of the many resources and organizations setup to provide support. Contact the VA, tell them what you need and take advantage of the programs they offer. Help is available. Don’t suffer needlessly. You’re there for others, when the time comes let someone be there for you.