Heroes wear camouflage, not capes or jerseys

By Jennifer Giering
Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce

I was slow to wake last Sunday morning and out of habit turned on the television as I walked to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee. As I heard the news from the other room, my heart shattered. I was breathless; I could not believe what I had heard. There must have been a mistake.

Ex-Navy Seal Chris Kyle was killed. My hero had fallen in an instant.
Chris Kyle defined valor, patriotism and sacrifice, he was a voice for those who couldn’t use theirs. He brought truth to light when speaking about his military experience, politics, defending the Second Amendment, what it meant to be a proud American and about post traumatic stress disorder.

He was a good guy, a husband and a father. And to lose his life, after protecting thousands of others, to a young marine with PTSD who took a gun to his mentor, was tragic.

Mr. Kyle, not 40 years old, was known as the “Devil of Ramaldi,” with 160 confirmed sniper kills, one as far as 1.5 miles away. His regret lay not with those he had killed, but those patriots,
brothers, he could not defend against the murderous hands of terrorists. He protected our troops, defended our country and demanded justice.

Upon retiring from the military, he dedicated his life to veterans bridging the military and civilian divide; he worked to help these brave men and women cope with adjusting to civilian life. PTSD is a serious issue. Over 1 million will leave the military in the next five years. Those who have not been affected with PTSD will return to family and friends, find work and become neighbors,
coaches and all-star employees.

Those with PTSD need our help – some 40 percent of veterans will be affected with some mental health issue. It is our responsibility to serve those who have served us. In 2009, we lost more veterans to suicide than we did in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. On average, 18 veterans take their lives every day – that’s a life every one hour and 20 minutes.

These veterans need treatment, they deserve it. Those affected with PTSD are more likely to be homeless, get divorced and commit suicide. PTSD is a condition that needs to be acknowledged
and addressed, not feared. Many of us work with, live near and socialize with individuals who have severe mental health issues who are not in the military.

Compared to the general population, however, veterans without serious mental health issues

are more educated, are more likely to be employed, earn a higher salary, and are more likely to vote. The American veteran community is proud, strong, hardworking, intelligent and prosperous. They are our nation’s greatest assets. Hire them, listen to them, learn from them. Let’s serve those that defend our constitution, fight for our freedom and protect our country.

My heroes aren’t in magazines, they don’t wear capes and they don’t wear jerseys. My heroes wear camouflage. Let us not be deterred, but inspired, for the peace in our heart and the freedom
from fear stems from the valor and greatness of all who serve and protect the greatest country on earth.

As Chris Kyle walked into heaven on Saturday, all stood and saluted him. God bless the Kyle family and may God bless America. R.I.P. Chris Kyle — 1974-2013.