Being a Veteran’s daughter, there have been moments of pride and moments of sadness. I remember my dad constantly wanting to show us his medals or his battle buddies. He wanted us to just sit and listen to him and his stories of the war.
My father, the Marine, to this day, continually says things like: Once a Marine, always a Marine. Semper Fi. Oorah!
Growing Up with a Veteran Parent
Now if you have a Marine veteran in your family, you know these sayings as well. The military became a part of our daily life; it became engrained in my upbringing. I remember going to the base to see my father. Occasionally, I can hear a plane and still know exactly which type of plane it is because of my father and his training.
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My father, Ernest, has always been a man of very little words. But when he does speak, it is a joke or a story of his past. How the weather reminds him of California when he was 18 living in the barracks of Camp Pendleton.
My father gets this look in his eyes, a desire to live those moments again.
Now for as long as I can remember, when taking road trips to California, we must stop and visit Camp Pendleton. “This is the place where Marines are made,” according to my father. He has such pride and gusto when getting out of the car. Yanking his cane from the backseat, as he rounds up his grandchildren to show places he once walked.
The Ups and Downs of Having a Veteran Parent
I always saw the pride he had for the things he had done in the military, so much that he enlisted in the Army while I was in middle school. He continued to be a member of the National Guard until he had an accident while I was in high school. He fell injuring his back. While he has never recovered from this accident, his pride has never wavered.
Not everything was always easy growing up with a veteran dad. One of the things we were always told was to not run and wake up my father. Though the war in Vietnam lasted years, my father came home with no physical scars but many emotional ones.
Growing up with a Veteran father has not always been easy.
My father has triggers that seem to never subside. Loud bangs or the occasional gun fire in our neighborhood seem to make him on alert. During these moments he is waiting for something to happened, he is on guard despite the years that have passed since the Vietnam war.
As a family, we tend to just give him time. He will talk about it if he wants to. Since he is a man of little words, he finds comfort in solace. His body has not fully recuperated due to his time in Vietnam, and he has many health issues.
Though despite all these issues he would enlist all over again because of his pride.
A New Perspective
I have grown to see my father in a different light. I used to get annoyed when I was younger, and people would see him and thank him for his service. He would stand there and talk about his tours with such gusto that I would roll my eyes and walk away. But as I have grown, I see his unrelenting faith in the military and how much he has sacrificed.
Though his body is moving slower and his words sometimes become jumbled and his thoughts flitter away before they are expressed, I am so proud to call him my father.
I don’t think I could ever express the priceless contributions he has made to not only my life but all those that were affected during his time of service. I will honor my father this Veteran’s Day by visiting with my dad and letting him talk about his time in the military. This helps him heal and teaches my children the importance of my father’s decision to enlist.
This Veterans Day, join me as we say thank you to all those veterans who have contributed with security and protection.
Below are a few places located throughout DFW that aid Veterans. You can show your appreciation by volunteering your time or providing a monetary donation to these organizations.
- Cowtown Warriors is a Fort Worth organization aiding disabled or wounded veterans. Their mission “To Serve and Honor our Wounded North Texas Veterans.”
- Help Heal Veterans helps Veterans with a therapeutic craft kit. Heal Vets emphasizes volunteering for Vets by giving veterans the ability for rehabilitation through arts and crafts.
- Tex Vet connects Veterans with various support groups and the ability to find help navigating through mental health counseling, support groups even reuniting with other veterans from past years of service.
- Veterans Center of North Texas offers assistance to all veterans and their families, directing them through various agencies for support and services.
- Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center provides empowerment to Veteran woman, the opportunity to become self-sufficient contributors. Offering classes, business certifications, and ensuring financial preparedness.