My father was a veteran of WWII; he served in the army in the South Pacific. While there, he contracted meningitis, encephalitis, and tuberculosis. When he was discharged, he was unable to walk and remained in a wheelchair for ten years. During that time he married and had three children, I was the youngest.
We were raised in a patriotic home. We knew and practiced proper flag etiquette. We learned to stand, remove our hats, and place our hand on our heart for the national anthem. We were taught to do the same for the first flag that passed in parades. We were NEVER to boo any soldier who served in our military forces but rather treated all veterans with respect and honor.
My father never spoke of his time in war. He would always say, “I was a baker and sometimes I drove a jeep.” Our entire family lived this illusion including my mother, until 2001 when Pines Village was preparing for their Tour of Duty trip. I needed someone to share their story with the press and all our veterans were reluctant. Finally with the charms that only a baby daughter can inflict on their daddy, he agreed to meet with the reporter. And the memories that came forward were of a magnitude that I was not suspecting. I learned why my dad slept with a radio under his pillow my entire life and I learned that the invisible scars of war are often the most damaging.
In recognition of Veterans Day this year, Pines Village is hosting a community conversation “Transforming our Communities to Heal Our Veterans” at Valparaiso University’s Harre Union on November 7, 2016 at 8 am. Our speaker, Dr. Edward Tick, is an internationally recognized educator, author and expert on veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder and the psychology of military related issues. Dr. Tick has dedicated his entire career to healing the wounds of our soldiers and leads his own not for profit, Soldier’s Heart. Soldier’s Heart founded in 2006, exists to transform the emotional, moral and spiritual wounds that often result from war and military service.
On Friday November 4, 2016 at 1:30 in the Celebration Center, we will view a documentary, “Healing A Soldier’s Heart”. The movie follows a group of courageous veterans as they venture back to Vietnam with Dr. Tick to face their former enemies, in an effort to tame their inner demons and heal their wounded hearts. On Sunday November 6, 2016 at 4:30 pm in the Celebration Room, Dr. Tick will meet with our Pines Village veterans to share stories and commune together.
The traditional Veterans Day program will be on November 11, 2016 at 1:30 pm in the Celebration Room. Our guest speaker is retired Master Sargent Kirk Brownson, the Survivor Outreach Service Support Coordinator for Northwest IN, Southwest MI. In addition, we will have our flag presentations.
I invite each of you to honor our veterans through your attendance at one or all of the events. Thank our Veterans for the sacrifices they have made. We will never truly understand what that means.