Today I had a conversation with a man I will never forget. His name is Michael and I noticed him sitting in a wheelchair at an intersection near Grace's school. After I picked up Grace and got ready to head home, I saw a sign taped to the back of his wheelchair. It read "Disabled Veteran". I drove off with the girls in the back of the car and knew I needed to turn around and talk with him.
So, I drove around the block and pulled into a nearby parking lot. For a few minutes we chatted. Michael is disabled - his left leg is amputated. He is an Army veteran and having a tough time in life. I gave him what little cash I had on me, but I know it won't solve any of his real needs. He seemed lonely - eager to talk to somebody. Eager to share a bit of his story.
I don't know where he's at in life... I don't know if he has a family or any friends. I don't know where he lives or if he has a home. These are all things I wish I had asked. I told him "thank you"... whatever that may mean to him, I don't know.
After ending our chat and saying goodbye, I drove home with the girls. I was shaken. I cried when I got home. War changed Michael as it does all of our men and women in uniform. His life is forever changed. And now he has one leg, a wheelchair, and is in need of money and companionship.
It's no surprise that I have a heart for veterans. I'm proud to be married to one and am happy to know so many. But there seems to be a great divide - something that is lost and broken after they come home. We forget to say "thank you", we forget to check in. Fortunately, many veterans have a good support system. But obviously many do not. Too many are left behind after they've served. I believe progress is being made, but it's too slow and not enough.
Veterans Day is a few weeks away. I hope that we can all find a way to practically thank a veteran and let them know that we don't take them for granted and we won't forget what they've done.