Living Veterans Part Two: Life After War
Veterans say serving in the armed forces is something that changed their lives. But upon returning from war, they had to learn how to accept those changes while back at home.”Anytime that you deploy like that or you’re away for that amount of time, you absolutely change a little bit,” said Command Sergeant Major Terrence Harris, Afghanistan veteran.”You can choose to be stronger or weaker based on your experience over there. You’ve seen things and done things you probably didn’t want to see and didn’t want to do but you survived it. And you can be a stronger person as a result of that,” said Major General Bill Libby, Vietnam veteran.”The transition’s been pretty tough. I’ve seen a lot of things and it still sticks with me. Some things are tough to get over,” said Ben Thompson, Iraq War veteran.These veterans learn to accept what has become the “new normal” for them, finding jobs and things to do that may or may not have to do with the military.”I wanted to go to college under the GI Bill and study engineering,” said Philip Tiemann, WWII and Korean War veteran.”I quickly applied to airlines for a job, but they weren’t accepting ladies in those days,” said Betty Brown, WWII Women Airforce Service Pilot.”The reason why I stick around, there’s lots of reasons. I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy the people. I enjoy our mission. There’s a lot of jobs out there in the world, but being a part of the military is the reason why I get out of bed and do the things that I do,” said Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Merrill, Persian Gulf War and Afghanistan veteran.As they go on with their lives, their service is something they look back on with pride.”I led marines in Iraq. That’s probably my biggest accomplishment,” said Thompson.”I’m very proud. I’m still active in veterans affairs,” said Tiemann.”I’m so grateful for the life I have had. I have to say that probably the WASP was the highlight,” said Brown.When Memorial Day comes along, it’s an extra special day to acknowledge their service, those they served with and those who never came home.”Memorial Day is a time for me to think about not only our own service and the people that we served with and the people that continue to serve, but thinking about all the folks that have paved the way, that have made our country and our military what it is,” said Merrill.”It’s a great feeling to know we can stand here and respect what they’ve done for us in the past,” said Harris.”I think it’s important for the nation to pause occasionally and say, golly we do recognize and appreciate that people do serve and acknowledge that there are people who did do that and didn’t return,” said Libby.”There’s a saying among veterans that every day is Memorial Day to us and that’s true,” said Tiemann.