"We All Have Wounds"
An inspirational story on struggles, needs and assistance for our nation's veterans from Navy Veteran, ex-County Sheriff and friend of Wellness Wishes, Gene Lawrence.
For many years Veterans have been desperately lacking in adequate services for them. Some of the services they have been lacking have been in the area of finding jobs when transitioning out of the Military and guidance in acclimating into civilian life. For some it has been one enlistment, while others it has been a career of 20 years or more. The veteran or retired military member come with varying needs. Some have jobs to go to, some do not. Some are married with families while others are single.
This is rather apparent but it shows the diversity of needs. One of the biggest needs is in the area of emotional and medical support. Many of our returning warriors suffer from the ravages of war and experience PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injuries from combat wounds. There are other invisible injuries that run the gamut and are suffered by both male and female. This is also true for first responders. Many veterans have become first responders and once again may have antagonized underlying issues from military service. I too became a first responder by going into law enforcement and got hurt on the job and ended up on a disability retirement. So all of this is near and dear to me.
Of recent times programs have become available to assist our warriors, men and women to transition from military to civilian life but it has been a struggle in coming about. I have become a member of Rally Point, which many may know is an organization of almost 1.9 million members consisting of Veterans, Retired Military, Active Duty Service Members and Civilian members who support the military. I consider Rally Point my family. Because of my involvement with Rally Point, I have become involved with Victory for Veterans and Warriors for Life. These entities support veterans in many ways. Warriors for Life has a virtual support group that meets on various days of the week where we share with one another. Through these groups I have been in contact with Erin Morrow of Wellness Wishes. This group offers support in areas that are of great interest to me. One such interest is the area of bringing together rescued animals with veterans as support animals.
I believe that animals are of great value in providing great emotional support to veterans or anyone for that matter. My wife and I have two rescue dogs. We had lost a rescue dog to cancer last December. They become so much a part of our family and are so important to us emotionally. I think of our two dog as gifts from God and find them to help me in finding unconditional love, just as God extends His unconditional love to us. When I have days when I suffer greatly from my pain issue or other issues I deal with from my recent cancer treatments, both of my dogs have a way to sense that. They come to me with such a look of concern for me. They will often times will simply lick my face or hand and sit on my lap or snuggle close to me. This compassion from them has a very definite calming and soothing affect on me. My maladies seem so much less as I pet and appreciate their love. Soothing my mind this way strengthens me and lifts me up, which keeps me from becoming depressed.
On the other side of the human and pet bonding comes the care response from me, to consider them when they are sick or hurting. It helps me to look past my suffering and causes me to put aside my issues so that I may properly give my pet friend all the care and reassurance to them as they have done for me. As time goes on we learn how to read our pet’s moods and needs. This attention to their needs is therapy for me. In a strange way it shows that I am not alone in my struggles and that I can still be of value. We all need to feel valued and caring for our pet family helps us to feel needed and of value. I believe this to be so important in regaining a sense of emotional balance. We can now better get out of our own pity party that many of us have concerning our situation. Funny thing as I write this, my male dog came up to me, jumped into my lap, tilted his head as he stared at me and started licking my hand. He must feel the emotion that I am releasing as I write this down.
Many of our struggling veterans can use and need this support from animals but can not afford to financially have a pet. This is one of the areas that Wellness Wishes steps up and helps our struggling veterans. They not only provide a connection with support animals to our veterans but are able to provide food and maintenance for these wonderful support animals.
Animals, as I said above, provide unconditional love to us and also provide companionship to a lonely veteran. The love and support that they give can help those veterans who have experienced the invisible injuries previously mentioned. The close bond developed between animal and human can be that lifeline that is needed for both rescue animal and struggling veteran. I personally think this service provided by Wellness Wishes is something anyone who supports veterans and rescue of animals from neglect or abuse can and should step up and support. I know that this heartfelt giving by the people involved and working in Wellness Wishes is something I wish to see grow and flourish.
As a veteran, I am happy to see such organizations forming to give much needed help and support. These areas of support have been a long time in coming. Too many veterans have become lost and depressed because of their medical and emotional needs have been unmet. The end result of that has lead to 22 veterans a day committing suicide as the only way out. To me, this is totally unacceptable and we need to do more to help those folks who feel lost and think that there is no way out. I know that these things happen with many others in life but I believe that veterans and first responders have a much higher incidence of this occurring.
Can you help? I believe that answer is yes.
You can help in many ways, but you can start by helping financially, those who are already in place and offering these dearly needed resources. Maybe you can start today by considering the raffle that Wellness Wishes is undertaking during this December and continue to follow them and see where you might be of service.
Proverbs 3:27 ESV
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
In closing, I would like to say the following:
We All Have Wounds...
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Christ responded:
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
- Mt 22:37-39
We love God because He created us and loved us first. We are created in His image and likeness and so we are made to love Him and all the reflections of Him in His creation. This is why Dorothy Day has said, “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
We remember that Christ has said that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. But what many of us have never heard is that until we are healed of our emotional and mental wounds, whether real or perceived, we can never truly love God, ourselves and others.
Healing is the first step to a life of peace that surpasses understanding and the eternal Joy that Christ has promised those who love Him. As Saint Augustine wrote in his Confessions, "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee."