Honor, sacrifice, valor: virtues servicemembers remember most

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Polly A. Peyer
  • Commander, WR-ALC
Personally, I am really looking forward to the federal holiday on Wednesday. Brian and I are taking a very special trip - one I am certain will stir deeply-held emotions and create lasting memories.

Our destination is the Carl Vinson Veterans Administration Medical Center just down the road in Dublin. There, we'll have the privilege of spending some valuable time with the people who've made this country great, our veterans. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to speak at the facility's annual Veterans Day ceremony. And I am very excited at the prospect of personally visiting many of the veterans being treated at the center.

Lately, I've given some thought to an interesting aspect of my upcoming visit. While there, it is quite possible I will meet some veterans who have fought in battles as long ago as World War II. It is also likely that I may meet some brand new veterans, servicemembers who have just recently returned home from deployment in the Middle East.

What an interesting notion, a "new veteran." The two words don't naturally fit together, but in the times in which we live today, and as we are a nation at war, we are adding daily to the totals of those who have experienced combat.

At present, the Carl Vinson center serves approximately 28,000 veterans in 52 counties. The center has expanded its care management team to meet the influx of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. Currently, the facility is managing approximately 60 such cases, and the Dublin facility and its outpatient clinics continue to enroll 25 to 30 OEF/OIF veterans every month.

The veteran of a distant era is being joined by much younger men and women. Their experiences have been vastly different; yet their experience is in many ways the same. Warfare may have changed throughout the ages, but the toll of battle is no less devastating on the warrior in the field. The foreign lands where the wars are waged have different names and locales. But the solemn, patriotic pledge to fight and even die for the sake of our country is the same.

All of these facts serve as urgent reminders of the immense value of our men and women in uniform. The noble calling answered by our servicemembers fulfills a never ending need. That the totals of American servicemembers who have been witness to war increases on a daily basis is modern-day proof that we must always be prepared to stand guard for our nation's cherished liberty. And our reasons to be thankful and the numbers of people we owe our gratitude and respect increase as the veterans' population swells.

I am glad for my opportunity to say "thanks" in person to some of America's greatest. I'm also very proud that 60 military members from Robins will visit with patients in Dublin and escort them to the auditorium for the ceremony. Through their actions, they too will know that lump in the throat and that good feeling that comes from paying your respects to true American heroes.

So, what are your plans for Veterans Day? I hope every member of Team Robins has some rest and relaxation on tap for your day off. You've certainly earned it. But I also trust you will do something you likely can't help but do every day you are at work here. Please, take the time to remember and give thanks for the brave men and women who have fought - and are fighting -- for our country.

Veterans Day is a tribute to all our service people, living and dead, from all wars. It's a time when words such as "valor" and "sacrifice" are used and heard in speeches and ceremonies across the land. It's a time for remembrance. By paying tribute and giving thanks to our nation's veterans, we help keep alive the memories of those who've gone before us.

It's up to us to remember, to honor, the people who have served and whose actions purchased our freedom.