WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Veterans are unique for many reasons - first, for having joined a profession committed to the defense of their country, which could require the sacrifice of their own life, if necessary.

They selflessly left loved ones behind and deployed throughout the world, often in harm's way. They often endured endless days in austere field conditions in cold, rain or desert heat. Yet, they came back for more.

During their military service, they packed up house and home and moved to far-flung locations. These moves can be traumatic; many civilians only move a few times in their lives, if at all. Veterans and their families, often have moved many times. Each move meant finding new schools for children, new doctors and dentists for the family, a new church and new friends. Yet, they moved again and again.

Veterans did all of this and more - not for the money - as certainly, more lucrative jobs could have been found in the private sector. They did it for the flag and for each other.

The most common expression among those who were once in uniform is, "I miss the camaraderie." No other profession, either in the private sector or in government, shares the unique bond that is felt through the military services.

Whether one has served for three or 30 years, veterans are a family. When veterans encounter strangers and discover each other's former service, a knowing and understanding come to both. They've been there. They know the lingo, the travel, the sacrifices, the hardships and the dangers.

They've known that special feeling of being part of something much bigger than themselves - the pride of serving one's country - and the camaraderie of taking care of one another, through the good times and the bad. And, after looking back, wishing it never had ended.

That's what makes veterans unique.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16