People around the country today will pause for a moment to think about what they are most thankful for. I’m no different. I consider myself a very lucky man with many things to be grateful for.
I’m thankful for my wonderful wife. She supports me in everything I do, even if it means leaving her by herself in Germany for six months when I volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan. (The photo above is of me in Afghanistan, covering a controlled detonation of captured and obsolete munitions by EOD troops outside Bagram Air Base.) I’m thankful for our four children and four grandchildren. They’re all healthy, successful at school or work, and seem to be happy in their lives. And I’m thankful for the wonderful group of coworkers I have. They make me look forward to coming to a job I love every day.
But I’m also thankful for some things that most people might not think a person would be thankful for.
I’m thankful all the birthdays, holidays and family get-togethers I missed while deployed to some God-forsaken places during my 20 years in the Air Force. Those experiences taught me to cherish every day I can spend with the ones I love.
I’m thankful for all the silly, embarrassing mistakes I’ve made throughout my life. They taught me to do the right things the right way.
I’m thankful for those I’ve loved who have passed away. Because of those losses, I’ve learned that the love I feel will never end as long as I remember them.
Knowing them has helped me see true strength and courage
I’m thankful for the heartache I feel for the Veterans I meet at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital who have suffered horrific injuries or illnesses during their service to our country. Knowing them has helped me see that true strength and courage exist in the face of extreme adversity.
While these are not necessarily things most people would be thankful for, they are what made me the person I am today. On top of all this, though, I’m very thankful I have the opportunity to work for the VA, and especially here at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
I’m thankful because I have the privilege of meeting America’s heroes, my fellow brothers and sisters in arms, each and every day. I love hearing their stories, mostly funny or charming, occasionally disturbing. They are the men and women who helped make America great, and it’s a privilege to know them.
I’m also thankful for all the professionals I have the honor of working with here. They go above and beyond to provide the finest health care available for these heroes. I am honored to count myself as part of that team and on this Thanksgiving. I thank all of you for what you do.