A The Godly Solider

On this Veterans Day, as we pause to honor those who have served our nation in times of war and in moments of peace.

From the American Revolutionary War, to the Mexican–American War, to the World Wars, to our current wars in the Middle East; the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America have served our nation with courage, commitment and consistency.

While the places may have changed, the centurions of the Bible are to be honored as well.  The position of soldier in biblical times, and today, remains a highly respected profession.

  • In Philippians 2:25, Paul describes Epaphroditus, a Christian, as a “fellow soldier.”
  • In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul uses military metaphors and tools to describe being strong in the Lord by putting on the whole armor of God.
  • In Matthew 8:5-13, Jesus marveled over the faith of a Roman solider who sought healing for a solider under his command.

On this Veterans Day, let us not only pause to honor those who have and are currently serving.  Let us also spend this day in prayer for God’s grace and protection for America’s finest men and women.

 

Veterans Day 2013: The Honor Flight

airplaneIt was a normal flight – fit your bags into a tight space, squeeze your body into a tight seat, and endure the rough ride.  Yes, it was a normal flight; until the captain made this announcement as we made our approach into Kansas City, “Ladies and gentleman this is your captain speaking and I have a request. Our flight today is carrying the body of a fallen hero; one of America’s finest who was killed in Afghanistan.  The family is on board and as a sign of respect would you please allow them to exit the aircraft first so that they can meet their hero on the tarmac.” And with that announcement our flight was no longer normal; because we were an honor flight carrying an American hero home for the final time.

In this era of hyper politics where:

  • Shutting down the government, and bringing into question the full faith and credit of the United States is celebrated as some kind of victory, and
  • Despite three years to plan the roll out of a website designed to help millions of the uninsured is broken beyond belief, and
  • Liberals and Conservatives view each other as enemies of the state instead of fellow Americans.

It is no wonder that we become caught up in this Washington sideshow to the degree that many of us have forgotten that American men and women are serving in places that many of us would not go, fighting and dying in a war that unfortunately, far too many of us have forgotten.

That is, until by happenstance our normal lives and flights are disrupted with the sight of “the last measure of devotion” given by a few brave Americans; so that the majority of us can enjoy the freedom and peace that we daily squander in petty politics.

Fallen Solider

It’s called an honor flight. However, for me it was a humbling flight; because of the honor given to me – that I should ride on a plane with that solider.  And because of that, I now vow to pray daily for those who have fought and are still fighting for us.

Thank you for your service my honor flight solider.

May you rest in God’s eternal grace and peace.

 

A Soldier’s Last Letter Home

On this Veteran’s Day as we wind down the longest war in American history the war in Afghanistan.  I would like to share with you the true cost for those who served in uniform and their families in a soldier’s last letter home from the war that just ended the war in Iraq.

Private First Class Jesse Givens had been in Iraq for a less than a month.  The 34 year old married with a stepson and a new son on the way was unable to shake a sense of dread – and a need to say goodbye to his family.

On May 1, as he helped to snuff fires set by insurgents, his tank crashed through a berm and fell into a canal off the Euphrates River. The rest of the crew escaped through a hatch, but Givens was trapped inside. Of all the dangers they were warned about, of all the terrible scenarios that went through the minds of his family, it was a scene nobody imagined:

Jesse Givens husband, father and father to be drowned in the desert.

A month later Melissa Givens, Jesse’s 27-year-old widow while going through her husband’s personal effects fond a letter that simply said “Open after my death”.   This is Jesse’s goodbye to his wife, Melissa, his stepson Dakota and his unborn son Bean.

My family:

I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if you are reading this . . .

I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. . . . The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. You will never know how complete you have made me. Each and every one of you. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never even dreamed existed . . .

Dakota, you are more son than I could ever ask for. I can only hope I was half the dad. You taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn’t so serious and sometimes you have to play. You have a big beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can still play together. I hope someday you will have a son like mine. Make them smile and shine just like you. I hope someday you will understand why I didn’t come home. Please be proud of me. Please don’t stop loving life. Take in every breath like it’s your first. I will always be there with you. I’ll be in the sun, shadows, dreams, and joys of your life.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom’s belly, and the joy I felt when we found out you were on the way. I dream of you every night, and I always will. Don’t ever think that since I wasn’t around that I didn’t love you. You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love. Please understand that I had to be gone so that I could take care of my family. I love you Bean.

I have never been so blessed as the day I met you Melissa. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover, and my best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A million lifetimes’ worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That’s how long I will be with you. Please keep our babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. . . . Do me a favor, after you tuck Toad and Bean in, give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside look at the stars and count them. Don’t forget to smile.

Love Always

Your husband

Jess

Private First Class Jesse Givens – Thank you for your service.

Top 10 Reasons for Hiring Veterans

As we take time this Memorial Day Weekend to remember the “last measure of devotion” given by our brave men and women in uniform, I wanted to use this space to urge the many hiring managers and recruiters who read this blog to make a serious effort to hire veterans.

The Business Case for Hiring Veterans

Hiring and transitioning veterans into the workplace strengthens any organization. With only minimal effort and cost, companies can easily become veteran friendly. When hiring a veteran employers will find loyal, dedicated and highly motivated leaders with proven skills and abilities that employers want and need. Many employers may not be aware that 80% of all jobs in the private sector have a correlation in the military.  The military produces surgeons, scientists, engineers, photographers, technicians and many other skilled workers, along with the significant advantage of cross-cultural experience.

Top 10 Reasons for Hiring Veterans

10. Global Perspective: Veterans are tuned in to what’s going on in the world.
9. On time, all the time: Veterans know that every second counts.
8. First-class image: A professional appearance is a must in the military.
7. Calm under pressure: Veterans are trained to handle stress, both off and on the job.
6. Can-do attitude: Veterans always project a positive attitude.
5. Physical conditioning: Veterans are in top physical condition and are drug free.
4. Mission-critical skills:80% of all jobs in the private sector have a military correlation.

3. Responsibility: Veterans know how to make decisions meet deadlines
2. Professionalism: Veterans have an air of self-respect and a sense of honor.
1. Leadership: Veterans are proven leaders and are highly motivated.

The Bottom Line

In today’s challenging economy, employers know they have to get their hiring decisions right. Veterans are a proven source of talent. They can provide an immediate bottom-line benefit because they are already credentialed, and their skills have been shaped and tested under the most challenging circumstances.  The Smart Employer knows that hiring a veteran is good for the country and good for business.  – No finer tribute can be given to does who gave the “last measure of devotion” to hiring a veteran. Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend.