There are two videos in this article that really fit with today's post. Even if you don't like the music I highly encourage you to watch the videos. 

With our multi-decade long war in the Middle East, other confrontations around the world, and the Jade Helm exercises, I see and hear many people putting down our soldiers. Men and Women who volunteer to be shipped to war torn areas to protect us and those who can not protect themselves. Those that are here in the US to provide protection during times of unrest, and there has been a lot lately. Some do it to have the opportunity to go to college because they have no other means to do so. Some do it for financial security for their families. Some go because they feel honor bound to do so, and usually come from a long line of family who served. Some go because of something horrific happened (like the fall of the twin towers). In the end though it doesn't matter why they chose this life, a soldier is a soldier. 

I assume, and truly hope this is the case, that the people who are being hateful towards them, do not really know what it is like to be them. I come from a long line of military family. My mother side has been in every war since the civil war. Not distant relatives, direct ones. My father's side has been in every war since the Indian Wars (his family was Native American). I also have had many friends in the military, grew up around military personnel and bases. So for those who do not really understand what it means to be a soldier, here is your crash course:

When you enlist and are accepted, you go to boot camp. Boot camp pushes you to the very brink. They spend the first couple of weeks tearing you down to nothing with sleep deprivation, heavy physical activity, verbal abuse, and so forth. They do this not just to test your limits but also so they can build you back up in their image. To some that may sound awful and even brainwashing, but the truth is a soldier has to carry out any order given to them without thought or complaint. You have to do exactly as you are told by your superiors, even if you do not personally agree. That is any military around the world and you could not have a military act in any other way. Otherwise they would be ineffective and chaotic. You would have too many opinions, objects, personal gains, etc in the mix... kinda sounds like political parties and we see how much they get accomplished. They are trained the way they are, in order to ensure that they follow the orders given to them... period. Yes, there are some bad soldiers out there who have done horrific things, but there are always some bad apples in every batch.

 Now don't get me wrong, I don't believe we should be in the conflicts we are in, but I blame the governments/ politicians/ and leaders. In the end that is where the orders originate and that is where the fault lies. If you ask almost any veteran who has actually been on the front lines of a war, they will most likely tell you an order they didn't agree with, or perhaps the whole war in general. They have seen and done things that changes a person forever, and in reality there was not much personal choice involved. You can not even begin to comprehend what it is like to be surrounded by bullets flying all around you, unless you have been there. You can not imagine what it is like to take another's life to protect those around you unless you have had to pull the trigger. You have no idea what it is like to have to walk down a street praying you don't get shot or blown up by a mine, while looking for civilian survivors from the last air raid. Unless you have been on the front lines, you do not know the horrors they have to cope with, not just at that moment but for the rest of their lives.

That is just the soldier. Their families, spouses, children, all go through a different kind of horror. They have to cope with the loss of that person for months and years at a time when they are on the front lines. Everyday could be the day a military person knocks on their door to tell them their loved one will never come home. If they do make it home there is a high chance that they will have trouble assimilating back to "normal" life after seeing and doing the things they have done. They count their blessings if nightmares are their only problem. Many lose their families all together because they can not shake it. Many come home with various injuries, some that leave them completely debilitated. Then to put the cherry on top, their healthcare when they get home is sub-par at best. If you have never been inside a VA hospital I highly suggest you go look around, or better yet talk to the patients and nurses.

They gave up their lives for ours. They gave up their freedom and free will in order to protect ours. They risked everything and deserve to be honored for that. If you have a problem with the wars we are in / have been in, the operations carried out, how prisoners are treated, and so forth, then you need to look to your government. They are they ones who send our soldiers to war, they are the ones who lay out the objectives, and they are the ones who are responsible. So for those who feel the need to blame and spit hate, you should direct it to the right source. You don't have to agree or support the wars that our politicians send our military into, that's not what "support the troops" is about. You, like I, can support, appreciate, and respect the soldiers/ veterans (the person) without supporting the war. Those are two completely different things and it's way past time for everyone to accept that.

To all those who have seen and been in war / conflicts, our family appreciates the sacrifices you have made. We understand what being a solider or family of a solider entails and the hardships you have endured. Thank you for your service to your country and it's people. To the families of servicemen/women, thank you for enduring the unknown, the separation you have/ had to endure, and the sacrifices you have had to made that only a military family can fully appreciate. Without all of you, we would be lost.