The repercussions of your military service and war on your life have been extreme and all-encompassing. I know they weigh heavily -- at times, to the point of perhaps not even being worth it in your mind.
You wouldn't be the man you are if you didn't make the decisions that led you to serve initially, and if you didn't stand up and fight again when our country needed it. If you were weak or afraid at that time you would've regretted it for the rest of your life. You wouldn't be who you are today if you didn't have the experiences that strengthen and haunt your mind and body. You have been brought to the mouth of the volcano and found that where other men fail or crumble, you persevere, excel, and lead.
I'm proud of what you have accomplished, and what led you to do it. I'm proud of the man you are because of it and despite it.
You have struggled.
You have braved.
What most people don't know is that the fight doesn't stay in country when you leave. Its face doesn't look like the enemy forever. It comes home with you in your bones. It permeates your consciousness and seeps into the many facets of your life from the trivial to the sacred. It is reflected in how you see the world, how you act upon it and how others see and treat you. You're still fighting, every day, a faceless, formless, shape-shifting enemy that takes the guise of anything and everything. But this is a fight that others can't see or even begin to understand. One that isn't documented or rewarded or recognized. The countless compounding effects are misunderstood to be just an unrelated string of events that make up your life, a life lived within a compromised body and a scarred soul.
I see it. Though I don't fully understand everything either, despite my concentrated efforts - I do see and I know how you are still fighting, every hour of every day -- and doing a damn good job of it. The man that you are because of what you have been through and done is the man that I love completely and fiercely.
From you I am learning what it really means to be a hero - a true hero, even though you're not fond of the term. You are inspiring. You fight and love and struggle, then struggle and fight and love some more. You are not giving up. I've never been prouder than being the wife of not only a veteran, but of my veteran – of you.
In this fight I am there with you every step of the way. Battle buddies forever. You've seen some of the worst that life has to offer, and now you deserve the best of what it has, and I will continue to try to give that to you. I pledged my life to you and I would do it again and again every single day for the rest of my life.
Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do. Thank you for being who you are.
Happy Veterans' Day, my love.