The Scars of Battle
Many of you remember Gary Sinise’s outstanding portrayal of Lt. Dan in the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump, and you now see him weekly on the hit show CSI: New York. But I know him as an extremely generous person with a heart for helping Iraqi children. I had the privilege of serving as emcee for the Iraq Star Foundation’s “A Night of Honour,” which provides reconstructive surgery to wounded veterans, and Gary was the special guest of honor. Please enjoy his guest blog entry.
This is our country and the freedom that we all share as Americans has been earned, and paid for and sacrificed for over the years by a courageous few. The majority of Americans sleep soundly in the comfort of their homes at night, while a very very small percentage stand watch in dangerous environments around the globe, making sure that we all can continue to enjoy the liberty and freedom we have grown so accustomed to as Americans.
Unfortunately, we take this liberty for granted. But just look back at our history and you will remember that this freedom comes at a terrible cost. And today, unless you are personally connected to someone serving in our military, a son a daughter, a father a mother, a friend or relative, you may not know just how expensive and costly it is to keep that liberty. Life goes on here at home. But in Iraq and Afghanistan our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, and their families enduring many sleepless nights here at home, feel the sacrifices being made every single day and they are paying a price. Whether they are on the front pages of our newspapers or the lead story on the nightly news or not, they still continue to do dangerous work in dangerous places and they do so voluntarily.
If we as a nation are going to send our troops into harm’s way, then we must be prepared to support them with whatever they need throughout their deployment and upon their return. And sometimes that return brings with it the scars of the battle. I have been to our hospitals many times, and believe me there are no more courageous men and women than those who have served, been wounded and who have thoughts of returning to the fight if only they can heal their wounds quickly enough. Leaving their friends behind to carry on without them is difficult for them indeed. I have been awed by them over and over again. And while we can never do enough for our veterans, we can always, always try to do more.
Our government and Veterans Administration, while trying to do the right thing for our returning service members, sometimes falls desperately short. And once our brave warriors return home and are reunited with their families, we should be mindful that all too often they bring the battle home with them and that our nation must support them as they adjust to life after war. Still, what is encouraging is that we have made tremendous progress over the years.
From our Vietnam days of turning our backs on our veterans, we learned that no matter whether we as a nation believe in the mission the government has set upon our military, our country’s service members are to be supported, and cared for and thanked for all that they do for us. And we, as citizens of the country they defend, can pick up the slack where the government leaves off. I have been involved with many grassroots organizations started by people who just simply wanted to help our troops and wanted to make sure that they knew that they were not going to be forgotten. They were not going to let them fall through the cracks.
Iraq Star is one such organization. I want to acknowledge and applaud the doctors who have donated their time and their services to helping these brave heroes. They are to be commended for lending a hand to those who needed help. Finally, to those brave service members, the Iraq Star beneficiaries who have given so much, thank you. Where would our nation be without the courageous few you represent? I am honored to serve you in whatever way I can, and I am grateful that the celebrity I have can be used to draw attention to your courage, your bravery and your sacrifice. You are the stars and I will be forever grateful for all you do for us. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America you so bravely serve.