When the US…

moved from the draft to an all-volunteer force, there was some fear and reservation. Wise advisors stated we will be able to fill all our needs through volunteers. Time has proven them absolutely correct.

There was no need to fret. Despite any misgivings, the military services are all filling their ranks with the cream of the crop and now have waiting lists for even most combat ranks. Why my Marine friends have transformed the idea of volunteering into a powerful motivation by implying “who will step up next and be allowed to enter the elite ranks of the toughest fighting force on the planet?”

So why do people volunteer? Is it for recognition? Inclusion in a cause for good? To give of themselves? To serve others? I imagine there are as many reasons for good people to volunteer for difficult or challenging assignments as there are reasons not to.

I think of the spirit of the volunteer whenever I go to New York and walk to the site of the World Trade Center. One morning while standing at the entrance, I could see the brave men and women of NYC Fire and Rescue companies rushing out of Engine Company No 10 and other companies nearby, some pulling their gear on as they ran headlong into an inferno of debris, fire, dust—-and death. Why did they volunteer that morning?

I am glad difficult, perceived “impossible” assignments are always out there for us to ponder. They give us reasons for striving, imagining, dreaming, and most of all, finding if we have the mustard to achieve something great with our lives. Every person I interviewed for “When Heaven Visits, dramatic accounts of military heroes” was a volunteer. Some came home scarred for life, but not, and this is the important part, NOT defeated!

Virginia Veteran Reservists Whose Stories are Featured in When Heaven Visits.

 

When I listened…

to combat heroes tell their stories for “When Heaven Visits,” one thing became readily apparent… many heroes are still hurting, some in silence, others by the situation. Knowing they were sharing with a fellow veteran seemed to build trust and allowed them the freedom to open up. Several heroes gave me their stories by video connection on the cell phone. Whether face to face or electronically connected, I could “feel” the emotions of combat as they shared.

Some talked fast, their voices reflecting the horrors of combat as they shared. Others grew silent and somber when discussing what they had experienced. One hero became nauseous while sharing. When asked “do we need to stop”, he quickly replied, “no, I must tell you this.” I gained an appreciation for the care these heroes are receiving while wondering, “can I do more to help them?”

Carlos Showalter – 18 year old Marine When Heaven Visits– “Saipan” and “Iwo Jima”. Rest in Peace, 2020.