The photo in the header today is of my husband, my veteran, my best friend in life, the Babe, Dan Raabe. We have been married for 24 years, and I remember, on our first date, (blind date), he was most proud of his children, Blake and Tracy, and of his military service in the US Army, 1968-1971. That has always stayed foremost in my mind.
His children are incredible humans, and I’m blessed to be their step-mom. Their Mom, Sandy, died of lung cancer, in 2010. Three grandchildren grace our lives with them. So blessed, we are. Sometimes, we need to pinch ourselves at the thought of all the blessings we have, thanks to their life together. Sandy was my friend, too, and I loved hearing stories about the kids when they were little. I know the Babe still loved her and still felt responsible for their divorce. Like many couples, they married very young, and found ghosts of war haunted their lives when trying to resume their lives. Alcoholism claimed the Babe for awhile, and Sandy made a hard decision. He stopped drinking probably 30 years ago. They were able to become friends again, after a long time. I’m glad.
Many times, the subject of Dan’s military service arises. I’m proud he is the Captain of the Honor Guard at the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha. He’s been in over 8 years, many times juggling Honor Guard duties with his Quartermaster duties. Nothing is so quiet as the HG, at the National Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska, firing the three volleys at a committal ceremony for a veteran. The eerie silence is so fitting, as it is hallowed ground, and a place of honor. It is where we both will lie some day. Another honor we’re blessed with.
I am learning much in the Intentional Peer Support class I’m taking every week. We’re skipping this week, but will resume next week. For some reason, now I’m drawn to learning everything I can get my hands on about PTSD and suicide. My Amazon and Goodreads searches probably look as if I am pretty depressed right now; nothing could be further from the truth, I want to learn about it, so I can listen to people whose families are in those difficulties. So we can devise a plan with them so we can lend support to them on their way to the blessings they deserve for their sacrifices.
There are a lot of military family, active duties and reserves, who are hurting right now. They hurt as Dan and Sandy used to. They may be hurting worse. Every family is different in its dynamics, communications, and the way they handle things. Many can improve. Many need someone to listen. That’s what Dan and I want to do with our volunteering efforts in the future. We are happy for what we’ve done, yet look forward to doing something directly benefiting our Veterans and their families.
The best thing any of us can do to thank our Veterans isn’t a free meal, free coffee, or free movie pass. The best thing we can do is be involved with them. Learn about them. Realize the sacrifices they made and continue to make for all of us. Later today, I’m meeting a family who called yesterday about the VFW food/clothing drive we’re doing again this year. They wanted to know if non-vets could participate. They have a five year old who drew a picture for a veteran and wants to deliver it to one today. How wonderful this family is! They get it. Volunteer. Be involved. It’s the best thanks we can give them.
And on behalf of a grateful nation, our thanks to all of them.