As a young lieutenant in the Army, I listened to my commander espouse “caring the most, operating the best and covering ourselves with glory.” He explained that caring for each of us strengthened us, connected us and would make us successful.
Over the last decade, I have worked with veterans, using horses to mitigate the effects of combat, military sexual trauma and the stressors imposed by service. I have learned that most veterans bring invaluable skills, talents and leadership to the civilian world, resulting in successful, happy lives. But a few need a hand in their transition home.
The American Legion and the other organizations at the Memorial Building provide some of that connection. When we became soldiers, the Army taught us to traverse the civil-military divide and learn to function in the world of the martial arts and sciences. We learned to adapt, overcome and to improvise. We learned to function as a team of individuals that we could depend on unquestionably.
What we missed was that our transition back to the civil world was often an entry into a chaotic, unpredictable environment where motivations and rewards were different and unpredictable. Most civilians do not even know that there is a difference between the worlds, nor should they; most do not even know anybody who has served, and many disparage those who have worn the uniform.
In December 2019, my wife and I were guests of my old regiment in Germany. In a conversation with one of the squadron commanders, I was asked why we had come. Was it a case of trying to hold on to glory days? I explained that, through the work I was doing with veterans using horses, I had learned that connection and reconnection was key, that likely, in the dark of night, later in life, someone who has connected with a peer group might reach out from a dark place to a brother or sister, and that person will reach back and say: “I am here.” A life will be saved.
Please reach out and join us for a socially distanced slice of pizza on March 16 at the Memorial Building at 1830 hours. Dragoon for life!
John MacEnroe, Beacon
MacEnroe is a member of American Legion Post 203.