In economics, the first lesson I teach my pupils is the lesson of things that are seen and things that are not seen. Actions have some effects that are readily apparent and others are overlooked or not perceived.
It’s the same with our military veterans. We see the obvious price they’ve paid—the time they spent far away from home and some of the physical injuries, such as lost limbs. What we don’t see are their psychological wounds. Sadly, these are more numerous than physical injuries, and they often cause greater suffering.
It took me many years to understand this. The uncle who raised me was as tough and fearless as any man I’ve ever known, yet even he struggled with deeply disturbing memories from World War II more than half-a-century later.
Every veteran close to me has wrestled with disturbing memories to varying degrees. In some cases, it took years, even decades, before they were ready or able to talk about the traumatic events that have haunted them.
Our veterans have far more scars than meet the eye. For most of them, thank God, the love of their families, their many happy memories, and their personal courage to push ahead with satisfying and productive lives enable them to cope with the ugly memories of war.
How can we help them? That isn’t an easy question, but as we pause to recognize and honor their service to our country on Veterans Day, let us resolve to do what we can. Let us be steadfastly supportive friends and family members.