What is a Vet?
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eyes. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel -- or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's alloy forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.
You can't tell a vet just by looking. What is a vet?
The Vet is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
The Vet may be the bar room loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near
the 38th parallel in Korea.
The Vet is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night in Da Nang.
The Vet is the former POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.
The Vet is the Quantico drill instructor who maybe never experienced combat -- but saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines by teaching them to watch and protect each other's backs.
The Vet is the wheel chair-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
The Vet is the career quartermaster who watched the ribbons and medals pass him by but made certain every needed bullet found it way to the front line.
The Vet is one of the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose
uncommon valor lies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
The Vet is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket -- palsied now and aggravatingly slow --who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
The Vet is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being -- a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
by Marine Corp chaplain, Father Denis Edward O'Brian