Hospices all over are starting to look at veterans in a different light. They are starting to honor and learn about the men and women who have served our country. It is nice to see the push to educate and help those who sacrificed for our freedoms and way of life. Veterans programs are popping up everywhere.
I have to tell you a story. For the past three years, I’ve been involved in a venture that raises money and honors veterans. A group of us put on an event that shows our local veterans how grateful we are for their service. I volunteer my time for this venture because I feel a connection with this cause and I, too, like most all volunteers reap the reward from volunteering because it does my heart good.
A man came to see our group while we were in the planning stages. He told us that he had served in Vietnam, had been captured, spent years in a POW camp, then escaped. He lived in the jungle while trying to get back across enemy lines. He existed on rats and bugs and contracted malaria. He was close to death when rescued.
He wanted to help with the event and we were honored to have him. In fact, we were so humbled by his presence and the looming spectre of what he must have endured so many years ago, that we didn’t know how to even thank him.
The day of the event he showed up in full dress uniform. He was a spectacular sight. Quietly he came over to us and said, “When I returned home from Vietnam, I was treated so badly that I took off my uniform and vowed never to put it on again. Today, because of this event, I put it on for the first time in 40 some years.”
That quiet statement hit me square in the heart with the force of a thousand stories. In that moment, all the work, all the stress, all the extra effort fell by the wayside and I experienced the pure joy of doing the right thing.
How often do we do something because it is right, but yet never hear the impact it has on others? How many people have you impacted today? You may never know today, but there will always be those days, even if they are few and far between when someone will tell you how much your work means to them.
I always tell the volunteers to multiply those moments by a hundred. We should do that ourselves as well. The nuggets are there, especially if you believe in what you are doing.
Thank you to all those who have served our nation. It is an honor serving you now that you are home.