Don’t thank me.
I don’t want thanks. I don’t want appreciation. I want understanding.
Understand that I cannot sit by and watch innocent people being slaughtered, tortured, or mistreated.
Understand that I don’t want to take a life, but I will, if it will protect you.
Understand that I don’t have to know you to want to save you.
Understand I know what it’s like to look death in the face and say ‘not today.’
Understand that I do not fear death, I fear greed, I fear despair, and I fear hatred because I have seen the atrocities they bring.
Understand I know what it’s like to lose. The loss of my battle is just as painful as the loss of my blood, sometimes more. That battle died for me and that is a debt I can never repay.
Understand that when I do lose a battle you won’t see me cry. You’ll see me live because now I live for two.
Understand that selflessness is as ingrained into me as my DNA.
Understand I can only lose so much before I break. And if I do break, if I reach that point, know that I broke so you didn’t have to. I don’t want pity, or sympathy, or handouts, hell I probably don’t want help, but help is what I need. I need someone to listen. I need someone to help me heal. Healing the soul is so much more complicated than healing the body but I cannot do either alone.
Understand we took different paths you and I. That doesn’t make one of us better than the other, that just makes us different.
Understand that my path limited me while it freed you. My path led me to a world of rules and regulations that drove my life, and saved it. It preserved yours.
Understand I am a person, not a machine. I have the same full range of emotions that you do. I choose not to show them. I choose to put my feelings aside in order to do my job.
Understand we’re not all the same. Not every veteran has the same experience nor does the same experience impact two of us equally.
Understand that my fellow veterans are more than comrades they are family. They are more than family, they are part of my soul. To help them is to help me.
Understand that I serve others, not myself.
Understand that taking the uniform off doesn’t change who I am. My service did not make me loyal, selfless, and honest. I was like that to start.
Understand I have no regrets.
Understand that I would do it, all of it, all over again. Without question.