November 11th— a day we know on our calendars every year as Veterans Day. This is a day for all individuals to pause, reflect and dig deeply into the wells of our hearts to remember and honor those who have served our nation.
As a veteran myself, I am here to tell you that it is not easy to wake up each day and put your life on the line for this country, leaving everyone you love at home in fear that you may not make it back to them. This is something my beloved wife, Darla, and my mother have had to experience first hand.They both know what it is like to be married to a warrior and they know the fear of losing a loved one.
Americans have persevered on every battlefield. We are the ones that made our enemy pay to be on the battlefield fighting against us. We are the ones that pushed through the trenches of WWI. The ones that left their cities in shamble and pushed them off the beaches of WWII. We are the ones that took over the mountains and hills of Korea. We are the ones that owned their jungles in Vietnam. We are the ones that found them and finished them in this perpetual global war against terrorism. We put numerous other enemies in check before they can carry out any destruction on our shores. We have been the tip of the spear and the hand that guides it through the enemy.
Not only do I commend the men and women who have or are serving this nation, but I also think it is important to show our support to the families who are battling the fear of losing their warriors.
Before serving, I could have never imagined what it is like to live so close to death. Every moment, movement, and decision can cost you your life or the life of your teammates.
As I sit here and reflect on my time in the service, I remember the good, bad, and the ugly. I remember the painful sensation that every one of my senses was on fire. My vision became focused like a laser. I did not look for the normal, I looked for the things that were out of the norm. My sense of smell was so intense that I could smell the fear in the air. My ears were like two microphones attached to my head. I could hear the breeze as it blew against the grass. My sense of touch was like a fly that landed on a spider web, feeling every vibration. I swear I could taste every molecule in the air. More often than not, it all tasted like I was chewing on tinfoil. There is one more sense that we do not understand but we know exists; that sinking feeling in your gut knowing this is real life.
Now try to imagine living like that day in and day out, in a mud-stuck trench. People call this trench warfare, fighting inch by inch for freedom and the protection of those back home.
Freedom is not free, and we must thank the individuals who have risked it all to maintain it. Their names will live inside our souls forever. We will never forget them. Those that have never been there will never understand the scars of a warrior. We bury those emotions deep inside those scars. We try to find a new normal, only to pause daily to think about the times both good and bad.
As your State Senator, I have made it my priority to help find ways to support and assist veterans as they return home and re-enter civilian life. One way we have done this was in the state's new operating budget. My colleagues and I worked diligently to help increase funding for various veterans’ organizations, like Save a Warrior, a program aimed at helping veterans and first responders who suffer from PTSD. The bill also includes $3 million in FY20 and $3 million in FY21 for an innovative program called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), which focuses on groundbreaking research to help veterans suffering from brain trauma and other mental health concerns.
If you or someone you know if looking for help, please don't hesitate to contact me at Hoagland@OhioSenate.gov or call my office (614) 466-6508. To reach the Ohio Veterans Crisis Line call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or visit their website. You are not alone.
Thank you to all veterans, past and present, for your service to this great nation—America is worth it. God bless you all!