I see "For Love of Country" a novel by the CEO of Starbucks and a writer of the Washington Post. This book delves into a problem that the majority of veterans in our generation face: a disconnect between them and society. They're embarking on a mission to help bridge that gap and help veterans return to the daily grind apart from their uniform.
I say all that to say it makes me think of my own brother. Of course it does, because if you have family in the military you can't help it no matter how little lingo you know. While visiting him and his family this summer at their latest assignment in Baumholder Germany I remember going on a double date and at one point sitting across the table from him and thinking, WOW, he is so grown up and sophisticated! Now I know that sounds silly since he is 30 years old and an incredible husband and even father of 5, yes 5, kids but it still is striking to me. It's similar to parents when looking at their children not being able to help but see glimpses of their childhood baby looking back at them. So it is with siblings. No matter how hard we try we occasionally still grin and mutter under our breath, yep that's the Zeb I know!
With statistics being common among soldiers and veterans I try not to bother myself with them however I know deep down my brother is blessed and protected by Almighty God. Serving since 2003 and multiple deployments I watched from a distance the Army shape my brother into an altered version of himself. Not in a weird, sci-fi kind of way but a maturing kind of way. He saw things I pray to never see. He experienced things I wish no one had to and he became a strong, wise, disciplined, honorable man one could only HOPE to aspire to be.
There really are pieces of him I'll never understand or be able to grasp and perhaps that's why the gap between veterans and normal citizens exist. We shouldn't want it any other way. They protect us by giving their lives so we don't have to.
It's the experiences and mysteries of the veteran that make them unique and to be respected. That should never be traded but as non-army peeps we do need to open our eyes and appreciate the beauty of a veteran. Their wisdom. Their capability. Their resilience. Their sacrifice. Their value.