Memorial Day and Beyond
by Kathye Hamm
Monday was Memorial Day, a holiday set aside to remember those who have died in service to our country. Friends, and members of my family have served, and I have been lucky in that none of those people that I have loved have died while in service. Even so, there have been costs and losses to those who served, and to those who love them.
Those who have served, and their families, understandably have a lot of pride in that service. That pride is likely tempered by the realties they face. You have likely heard about the rates for suicide and homelessness among veterans. The VA’s data sets are from 2016 when over 6,000 died by suicide, and from 2018, when 37,000 veterans were homeless and 23,000 were living on the street, or unsheltered. Family separation is a way of life for many military families, as are frequent moves and a lot of uncertainty. Friends and colleagues are lost through death, reassignment and transfer. It is a way of life that many of us honor, but few of us understand.
There are many places where we can learn about the challenges facing those serving, veterans, and their families. Please educate yourself, through conversation with veterans, research and statistics from the Veteran’s Affairs website, or organizations like the Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran’s Association or The Wounded Warrior Project. After educating yourself, wonder together as a faith community how you can support those who are serving, the veterans in your midst, and the families who love them.
If you are grieving the death of loved ones – whether they died in service or not – may the peace that passes all understanding be with you. If you or a loved one is dealing with the aftereffects of service or injury to body, mind, or spirit – may you seek and find the help you need. May we all support those in our congregations and communities who are serving and the families who support them – hold them in prayer, surround them with love and be present in times of need and celebration.
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