It seems like when it is this close to our nation’s Independence Day, my mind always turns to those who have made our freedoms possible – our nation’s military veterans. I guess that’s because I am a Vietnam Veteran myself. I salute those dedicated men and women – the best our nation has, who are now serving in our military, and those who have served before them.
I especially remember however, the faces of those homeless Vets that I see here at Open Door Mission everyday. We serve a great number of our nation’s veterans from many wars – but mostly from the Vietnam War. For a number of reasons, they just have never been able to completely come home . You can see it in their faces – their eyes that cannot come into contact with yours, the distant look that betrays a broken spirit.
I am so thankful that I work with a dedicated group of people who are living out a life of compassion for these and other individuals who find themselves tied up in life’s circumstances. At one time these invisible vets had the best their country could offer. They had the best military hardware, the best training, and the best resources that the world’s greatest democracy could give them. Things are indeed different for many now.
Aren’t you glad that God remembers and keeps the books! Every Veteran’s Day, at Open Door Mission we have a special Veterans Chapel service. ODM staff members, who are veterans themselves, invite homeless vets to come up on stage and introduce themselves and tell others the branch of service they were in and when. Then we pin a small American Flag on the chest or each vet. I wish you could see the sparkle in their eyes! Wow – after many long and sometimes lonely years, someone just says thanks for what you did for your country .
Last year we had 83 vets on stage. This year in many ways, I would like to see 500! But a bigger part of me would like to see none. You see, I remember that these brothers and sisters in arms are not just vets, they are also homeless.
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