We are currently facing a global catastrophe of such magnitude, that has never been witnessed by our generation, nor by our parent’s and grandparent’s generations. A different type of war, if you will.
In modern times, our soldiers have faced The Persian Golf War and the War on Terrorism. In our Grandparent’s time, there was The Korean War and The Vietnam War.
Throughout our nation’s history, there have been many a brave soldier to stand up and fight for a universal truth that we as American’s cling to- that we have been endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This is a cause for which many have given their lives to protect.
Heroes come in all forms, but share the same admirable traits. They give of themselves, often to their detriment, for the good of others. They sacrifice their comforts, their worldly possessions, their rights and even their lives to defend ours. They run towards the danger, as everyone else runs the other way. They walk to the frontlines of the battle, holding up a shield to protect all in their care, who stand behind them.
Today, we are seeing a new generation of warriors running to the aid of hundreds of thousands of hurting and dying individuals. Across our country and around the world, these heroes are rising up to wage war against an unseen, but oh so lethal enemy. They are doctors, nurses, therapists, hospital staff, National Guard and so many others that are standing as our first line of defense against this virus disrupting our way of life.
These courageous professionals are being taken away from their families for countless hours of soul crushing shifts and then they are choosing to continue to remain separated from them, to protect the health and well-being of those closest to them. Yet even in the midst of their own isolation, our healthcare workers are turning around and doing their best to calm, comfort and preserve the lives of thousands upon thousands of people who just want to make it home to their own loved ones.
No war is without casualties and no one leaves the battlefield untouched, whether physically or emotionally. Having a spouse who is a combat veteran, a grandparent who was a veteran of the Vietnam war and suffering from PTSD myself, my first thought as I watched the current events take place- the strain on the hospitals, the concerned staff, the heartbreaking triage decisions, the time away from family, the high stakes life or death stress moment by moment and the complete and utter exhaustion that healthcare workers are going through was- Who will help THEM, when they are done helping everyone else?
What happens when this virus finally runs its’ course, when we all can go back to work, when the last case is discharged or the final ICU bed is clear of these patients? What happens when these brave souls who have fought against breaking down every day, they stepped through those hospital doors, can finally release the weight of their emotions?
We, the people, must be prepared, as a global community to embrace our frontline healthcare workers, our military who were called to serve, even our grocery store employees that have been operating under enormous stress and conditions completely foreign to them. We need to stand ready with mental health resources for all our brave soldiers, to let them know that it’s their turn now to let someone fight for them.
These last few months have been so life altering and defining that many people will never be the same again. They have had to make choices that will follow them the rest of their lives. They have been unable to save people, for which they will have to forgive themselves. They have been the last face many have seen as they drew their last breath and those images are seared in our doctors and our nurse’s minds for all of time.
After all that they have done for us, the most important thing we can do for all of those that waged and won this war for our country, is to let them know that there is no shame in getting help. Not only is there no shame, it should be highly encouraged that they go to counseling to process the experiences and emotions that would otherwise haunt them. We cannot make it taboo to discuss depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, because there will be countless individuals who will surely suffer from these issues.
To the war heroes of this generation, we see you. We know you signed up to change lives and save lives. You have and you are making a monumental difference in our world. We salute you and when this is all over, let us do our part and help you pick up the pieces of life as we knew it and put our country back together. At the end of this battle, may we truly find ourselves to be one nation- indivisible, stronger together and loving our neighbors, as we stand shoulder to shoulder.