This submission is part of a regular series of columns in The Advertiser-Tribune that features county voices. The series allows a direct, unfiltered message straight from county officials to our residents.
Today’s column was submitted by Tara Balliet, director of the Seneca County Veterans Service Office. The column was printed in the A-T on May 20.
Memorial Day: A holiday reserved for those who served
Young people join the military, usually straight out of high school. It is very rare to meet an individual who joined the military later in their twenties and extremely rare to meet someone who joined in their thirties. I have often pondered why that might be, but regardless of why, I am certain the job of protecting our country is one for a young person. The memories made during military service are carried for a lifetime.
The physical demands of military life, regardless of the branch are nothing to scoff at. Many people focus on the idea of boot camp and its’ demands as being the most difficult part of the military but this is just the beginning. Boot camp is where military personnel are trained to take the extreme physical and mental demands placed upon them and then push through to complete a mission or task. This is just training. By no means is it the ‘real deal’.
After completing the first portion of training in the military you are sent to a permanent command or base and given a job, a set of duties to complete each day. It’s the same as a civilian job but different since there is no ‘quitting time.’ If you get off work, you do not usually go home to sit on your couch and drink a cold one with your spouse while watching the evening news. Usually, you go back to a barracks or ship, maybe a tent depending upon your current station. When they are off work, military members are with the same people they worked with all day. Your co-workers become your family. In many respects, they often know more about you than your actual family does. It shouldn’t be a surprise since eating, sleeping and all time is spent with them.
Most active-duty military members are often deployed and are far away for months at a time during their service. Many have very dangerous jobs. Even a mundane job can be deadly in the military. Despite these daily environments, when you talk with veterans you often get a very different idea about military life. Veterans often have funny stories to share and speak fondly of their time in the military, even though it was most likely the most difficult time in their lives. For many veterans this time of year, Memorial Day, is a reminder of the really bad times. Memorial Day is reserved for those who gave all, those who sacrificed everything for you and me, to establish our freedoms and to protect our freedoms. Some veterans lost members of their military families during their service. Some veterans have terrible memories and strong emotions of loss. Often these emotions are worked out through attending the different events and from the comradery felt during the Memorial Day Parade or at Post gatherings after Memorial Day cemetery presentations and at family cookouts. This year there won’t be too many opportunities for our living veterans to work through their emotions.
Memorial Day is reserved for remembering those whom we lost while they were protecting our freedoms, but this year I would encourage everyone to reach out to your neighbor. Make sure they are doing alright. If your neighbor is a veteran or a spouse of a veteran who passed away recently your phone call may be the one that helps them get through the day. During this time of social distancing, it is important to promote emotional closeness. Reach out. Make the call. Brighten someone’s day.
The Seneca County Veterans Service Office is here to help. Our service officers are fully trained and accredited to help with claims and financial assistance. We will do our best to help you when you call, even if you just need someone to listen. Call the office at (419) 447-2885, for more information.