A Heartfelt Thank You to Veterans from One of Our Own
When we asked Tim Falk, one of Mr. Beer's amazing Customer Service Representatives, to write a blog for Veterans Day, he quickly agreed. We couldn't think of anyone better to thank our past and present service men for their selfless, and often times, unrecognized, service to our country. You see, Tim himself is a veteran, serving as a medic in Afghanistan, and he knows firsthand how profound a simple "thank you" can mean to his fellow brothers and sisters who served.
Thank you Tim for your service, and thank you for writing such a touching and sincere post dedicated to our veterans.
A Veteran's Thank You by Tim Falk
I still remember the first time someone thanked me for my service. I was at DFW on my way from Basic Training in desolate Ft Sill, OK to Army Medic school in San Antonio. It was my first time in public and in uniform at the same time, and a middle-aged gentleman walked up, extended his hand and said "Thanks for your service. We're proud of you."
Awkward guy that I am, I blushed furiously, shook his hand, mumbled something about "Thanks sir," and rapidly walked away staring intently at my boots. In the years since then, my social skills have not improved much, which is especially bad considering how many chances I've had to practice that exact scenario. I've been nothing short of stunned by the number of kind, grateful and respectful encounters I've had with complete strangers who treat me like a family member when they find out I'm a vet.
What always struck me as odd about the whole thing is that, in general, veterans are the last people to ever seek recognition or thanks. That's not to say they aren't fiercely proud, but for them it was never about getting credit.
People come to the military for every reason you can think of, and from every walk of life. In the Army, I met enlisted men with graduate degrees from places like Harvard. I also met high-school dropouts who wanted to take a chance to make something of themselves. I encountered rich, poor, young, not-so-young, and every color and creed you can think of. Some joined for college money, some to travel, some just because they were bored and it sounded fun.
Once in, though, individual backgrounds and reasons for joining don't matter. Your purpose in life is reduced drastically: accomplish the mission, and take care of each other. Now we're getting to what makes veterans special. I've seen leaders refuse food, sleep and medical care until they made sure their soldiers got it first. I've seen soldiers dedicate what precious little personal time they had to getting better at their job- studying, practicing and training so if their buddies need them, they'll be up to the task. I know soldiers who put themselves in harm's way and faced death for someone else's sake, and when questioned afterwards made it apparent that it never crossed their mind to do anything else.
I think it's amazing that so many people (and a fair number of businesses, too) find ways to show gratitude on Veterans' Day. I have a great deal of admiration for that. I would like to ask that this year, on Veterans' day, while you're hopefully enjoying some well-deserved time off with your loved ones, you remember our service members who can't do the same because there are tens of thousands of us in places like Iraq and Afghanistan as we speak. Please also remember those of us who've come home and are struggling with things like finding a place to stay, or a job, or even just fitting back into the civilian world (it's harder than it sounds). I, personally, have been very blessed and fortunate to have what I do, but far too many of my brothers and sisters haven't been so lucky.
I'd like to close with one last request. I always ask the same thing when I'm asked to write on this subject. Please remember my friend, SPC Levi Nuncio, who was killed in Kunar, Afghanistan on June 22, 2011. He was a fine example of all those wonderful qualities I mentioned, and he, along with the others who didn't make it home, deserve to be remembered.
"My grandson asked me the other day when he said, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' Grandpa said 'No...but I served in a company of heroes." –MAJ Richard Winters