If you have a Combat Veteran in your family and you don’t like their moods and behavior around the holidays; please consider these six things: 1.) Your combat veteran has served in countries where people are blessed to receive a tattered pair of shoes or have clean water to drink; he/she no longer lives the “first world illusion” and no longer cares that if you buy one play station you can get a second one for fifty percent off. In fact, they find it hard to appreciate any of the gluttonous commercialism and overindulgence that permeates American holidays. Standing watch, boring as it was, had so much more purpose than going to the mall. 2.) Your Combat Veteran is thankful for the most basic things; not thankful for mega-sales and million dollar parades. They are thankful to be alive; thankful to have survived both the wars far away and the wars they struggle with inside. 3.) Your Combat Veteran is thankful that it wasn't them that got killed, or wishes that it was them that got killed instead, or is torn painfully between the two. Either way, their celebrations are forever complicated by guilt and loss over those that died. Some of the most thankful times in their life (lucky to be alive) were some of the scariest. Their feelings of thanks and celebration often conjure memories that are equally painful. 4.) Your Combat Veteran is not like you anymore. At some point, for some period of time, their entire life boiled down to just three simple things: when will I eat today, when will I sleep today, and who will I have to kill or will try to kill me today? They are not like you anymore. 5.) Your Combat Veteran does not need a guilt-trip or a lecture; they already feel detached in their grief while others so easily embrace the joy of the season. They need understanding and space; empathy not sympathy.6.) Your Combat Veteran does love his/her family and is thankful for the many blessings in their life…and they are thankful for you.

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For the Warriors who fight and Die...

so the rest of us may fight to Live.

*****

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