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.