When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
- Maya Angelou
My late father, John M. Allen, was so proud of his years in the Marine Corps. He served through the end of World War II as a Japanese translator. Though he went on to a career in publishing, he liked to say, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
That pride in military service has stayed with me. I have only been an observer of the military, not a participant, but that does not diminish the gratitude and pride I feel for our servicemen and women, past, present and future.
In fact, I am blown away by the all-encompassing devotion of our service members. I recently saw a piece about a 20-year-old gentleman who lost an arm and both legs fighting overseas. He was being honored by thousands of bikers at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. This young man got onstage to wild cheers. He pumped his arm and told the crowd that he does not regret for a second his military service or his injury. His body will never be the same, but his mind, heart and soul remain unwavering in his belief in our country and the path he chose in defending it. He has a great deal to share with the world about resilience and optimism.
Then there is Colonel Greg Gadson, the garrison commander at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Col. Gadson was a Goliath of a man, played football for West Point and co-captained the team his senior year. He rose to become a colonel in the Army and served as a commander of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Unit.
One day in Baghdad in 2007, he was heading back to base from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade, when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated under the Humvee he was riding in. The blast was so powerful it threw him from the Humvee. Col. Gadson lost both of his legs.
Though there were very dark days during his recovery, he reached a point where he was able to say, “You cannot always understand God’s ways. Faith is accepting what we can’t know and that is the first step in moving forward.” Forward he has moved. He went on to earn a second master’s degree, acted in the movie Battleship and returned to active duty with the Army. Truly inspiring.
We can never underestimate the intensity of the emotions faced by soldiers—not only on the battlefield but also when they return home. On active duty, they can feel disconnected from family and friends (even with all the technology available) and emotionally overwhelmed by their experiences in battle. Once home, they often feel isolated from those around them, even those who love and support them, because they lack the shared experience of war. Add a physical or psychological injury to this disconnection from life at home and one can only begin to imagine the depths of pain experienced by our veterans.
Guideposts takes great pride in being able to offer help to soldiers and their families through our Military Outreach program, which provides more than a million inspirational publications to American service members at bases all over the world. Our greatest hope is that our publications will help meet our military men and women where they are in their journey, comfort them and inspire them just as powerfully as they inspire us through their devoted service to our country.
Katheryn (Katie) Allen Berlandi is the seventh of Guideposts cofounders Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Ruth Stafford Peale’s eight grandchildren. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children, adolescents and families, and a consultant for Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation. Katie lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters and son.