Since 1938, Veterans Day has been recognized as a national holiday to honor those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. On October 8, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated November 11, the day that marked Armistice Day and the end of World War I, as Veterans Day. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges Veterans Day as “A celebration to honor America’s Veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” This Saturday is Veterans Day, and we want to recognize and honor all who have served or laid down their lives to preserve our freedoms.
Recently, Nick Stonestreet, Ronald Blue Trust CEO and Dr. Michael Patterson, founder of Be A Peacemaker Inc., sat down with military veteran Jarrad Turner Sr., a former U.S. Army combat medic who served two tours in Iraq, to talk about his military experience. His first deployment lasted 15 months and was part of the initial push of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His second deployment of 12 months ended when he was injured and medically evacuated. Turner subsequently underwent several surgeries to try and correct the injuries he sustained.
His insights offer a better understanding of military experience and how to support our service members when they return home.
Service Members Uphold a Lifelong Oath
“Every veteran deployed to combat wrestles with doubt, fear, and anxiety,” Turner says. “But we are professionals. We’ve trained. We’re prepared. We are proficient. The fear is put aside because our job is to do whatever our country calls us to do. Period.”
He emphasizes the level of commitment that even those on reserve have made to serving our country. “Most of the men and women who have served in the highly decorated Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade, for example, have had an average of six to nine deployments. When a service member is deployed, he or she must tell their spouse, kids, family, and community that they’re leaving for an extended period. Some people close to them may not understand or even agree with what they’re doing. However, our military understands the oath they’ve taken to serve their country, and there is no expiration on that oath,” he explains.
Many Wounds are Invisible
Service members often return from combat with catastrophic injuries, including the loss of limbs. However, many service members also have invisible wounds. “My invisible wound is a traumatic brain injury. I have all my limbs and function of them, but I can barely feel my right hand. I have double vision and a stutter at times. I lose my words and train of thought,” Turner says.
In addition to physical wounds, spiritual and emotional wounds also change a combat veteran for life. Dr. Patterson’s church, The Path Church in Atlanta, GA, has started a veteran support group, and he is in talks with other churches about starting their own groups. “We want the men and women who have made this sacrifice to be in environments where they are poured into,” Patterson says. “Please don’t give up on God because He hasn’t given up on you.”
Veterans Need Our Support
Although Turner may no longer wear a uniform every day, he still feels a deep commitment to his military brothers and sisters. “They don’t ask for anything other than for us to remember them and their commitment,” he says. Currently, he is the vice president of strategic partnerships for The Warrior Alliance, which offers an extensive range of services for military members and their families as they transition back to civilian life. Those interested in supporting our veterans can visit this site to learn more about The Warrior Alliance’s work and the efforts of other organizations focused on enriching veterans’ lives and giving back to them for their sacrifices.
Lastly, please remember our military members and family members prayerfully on November 11 (Veterans Day) with gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
“They [veterans] don’t ask for anything other than for us to remember them and their commitment.”
– Jarrad Turner Sr.
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