Five years after founding The Gratitude Campaign, I've received over 10,500 e-mails, and 1,500 comments on YouTube. It seems that there is a lot to talk about with regard to gratitude for those who serve; not the least of which is the ever present challenge of understanding how to keep the politics out of it. Hopefully this blog will give us an opportunity for some rational, reasonable, and respectful discussion. I hope you'll join us...

~Scott Truitt, FOUNDER


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Why Freedom Matters

As Americans, it's easy for us to take our freedom for granted.

Have you ever seen a movie, watched a play, listened to a piece of music, read something, heard someone speak, witnessed an event, or had an experience that made you think in a different way than you ever have before?  Something that changed who you were, even if only in a very small way? 

As human beings, we define ourselves by our experiences and our relationships.  “I am like this.  I am not like that.  This is how I feel.  This is what I think.  This is what I like.  This is what I don’t like.  I agree with this.  I disagree with that.”  Our personal identities are inextricably tied to our ability to explore the world and to find our place in it.  In other words:  our freedom, or lack thereof. 

Have you ever considered what your life would be like if you didn’t have the freedoms you have today?  What if you didn’t have the freedom to say what you wanted to say or to listen to others say what they wanted to say?   What if you didn’t have the freedom to go where you wanted to go – to see or experience anything beyond your own narrow existence?  What if news just couldn’t talk about certain topics?  What if it were illegal to speak out against the church or the state?  What if you were told what you had to wear, what you would do for a living, or what religion you had to be?  What if you were forced at gunpoint at age 13 to join a militia that you didn’t support or believe in?  How would you even know who you truly are if you didn’t have the freedom to be whatever you wanted to be?

And by the way, if you're thinking that this is a conversation for 1776, not 2013, think again.  These restrictions on freedom are things that still happen in the world, right now – quite a bit of the world.

Freedom is how we know ourselves – by having the freedom to think and say and do what we want, and by others having the freedom to think and say and do what they want so that we can observe and compare and learn from their experience, as well as our own.  We only are who we are to the degree that we are free to be. 

Let’s remember that, and celebrate our Independence as individuals, as well as a nation.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Veterans' Freedom

John F. Kennedy said, “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, no man is free.”  If I could be permitted to paraphrase, all men and women deserve to be free.

That includes those who serve to defend freedom for the rest of us.

Unfortunately, you aren’t as free as you once were when you’re struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress, perhaps severe enough to lead to alcoholism, drug abuse, or suicidal thoughts; or when you’re discriminated against for admitting that you struggle with PTS, even if only on a minor level; or when your family and friends don’t recognize you anymore because you’re just a different person since returning from your deployment.  

You aren't as free as you once were when you've sustained wounds, lost limbs, or suffered Traumatic Brain Injury that diminishes your ability to do the things that you've always been able to do, or to live in the house that you worked hard to buy before your deployment, or go back to the job that you loved or always dreamed of doing after your service.

You aren't as free as you once were when you’re concerned about your family trying to survive with a single parent while you’re deployed overseas and your normal support network of family and friends is in another state; or when you’re struggling to provide for your family on an entry-level income.  

You aren't as free as you once were when you’re trying to transition out of the military and discovering that your skills don’t translate into the private sector; or that the private sector doesn’t value your training and experience.

And you aren't as free as you once were when you’ve lost a parent, a sibling, or a child to their military service, and you no longer feel like a member of the military community; or… the list goes on…

Everyone deserves to explore and express and enjoy their freedom; especially those who have fought the hardest and sacrificed the most to defend it for the rest of us.   In the military, nothing is a one-man show.  Everything requires teamwork – everyone doing their job as best they possibly can to support everyone else.  We – civilians – are part of that team.  We need to do our jobs of supporting those who serve so that they can do their jobs, and so that they can enjoy the same freedoms they’ve provided to us.