Dear Warrior

**AN OPEN LETTER WRITTEN TO OUR WARRIORS ON VETERANS DAY 2019.

Dear Warrior,

First, let me start by saying Happy Veterans Day to those who serve and/or have served. Now, let me move quickly past that to the point of my letter to you.

YOU MATTER MORE THAN JUST TODAY. Now, don’t get me wrong, you deserve your day, alongside the other days that honor those who serve, have served, and have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, but, (which I know the word “but” negates everything stated in front of it…so let me repeat it) BUT, I want you to know that you deserve more than a few days a year and you are worth so much more than everything we can give you as our feeble attempts to show some sort of appreciation.

Over the years of spending time with you through our work with the Warrior Network, I have noticed an odd trend tied to you and your service, and it centers around five simple words “Thank you for your service”. I’ve watched you cringe sometimes when you hear it and, other times, I’ve watched you proudly shake the hand of the one thanking you, and seen every reaction in between. I have one simple hope for you, and that hope is that you go to bed tonight knowing that YOU ARE MORE than your service.

Your uniform does not define you.
Your job does not define you.
Your rank does not define you.
Your time in service does not define you.
Your credentials, decorations, education, accomplishments, volunteer bullets, awards…nope, they do not define you.
Your sacrifice...not even that defines you.
You’re more than all of it.

While all of that is important, I don’t ever what you to minimize yourself to being defined by something fleeting. I want you to be defined for who you are as a man, woman, son, daughter, mommy, daddy, friend, leader, influencer, just to name a few.

You have taught me more in the past five years than a lifetime of experience elsewhere.
You’ve taught me about teamwork in the face of division.
You’ve taught me about authentic leadership in the face of a culture that screams you have to run over others to get to the top.
You’ve taught me about inclusiveness in the face of racism, bigotry, and exclusivity.
You’ve taught me about faith in the face of religion.
You’ve taught me to fight for what matters while giving up seems like a viable option.
You’ve taught me how to love those who are hard to love, how to maintain a relationship on the other side of the world, how to get to know new people, and how to say goodbye to best friends.

You’ve done all that in me, and then some. And most of the time you weren’t even in a uniform, you weren’t at work, I didn’t know (nor care) whether you were enlisted or an officer...no...that didn’t matter. Why? Cause while you were doing all of this, without even knowing it, you were just being you, normal people who have given themselves to something bigger than themselves. While sacrificing time with family, birthdays, holidays, and friendships, dealing with deployments and TDYs, FaceTiming your family from the other side of the world, and moving to a new place, and giving of yourself physically and mentally...you take it all in stride and come out stronger, even if you feel like you come out battered and broken. We see you! Did you hear me? WE SEE YOU! We see the very core of who you are, the one who misses his family, the one who is navigating hard times with her work, the one who is just trying to put one foot in front of the other and survive parenting alone, saying goodbye again, another briefing, a friends suicide, a loved one dying back home, sickness when your spouse is deployed, and the list goes on. WE SEE YOU! And you are more than you’re giving yourself credit for. You matter, to me, to your family, to your friends, to your coworkers, to God, to our community, to this world...and no, not because of what you do, but because of the men and women that you are. Tomorrow is brighter and this world is better because of YOU! And I hope you know that the very core of who you are, your story, your experiences, your mistakes, your heartaches, your successes, the things that set your soul on fire and the things that will teach you even more life lessons...all of that makes you the amazing person I know and love and all of that is what is going to empower you to influence the very core of the person next to you.

Imagine what you can do in this world. Take pride tonight, cause your existence is changing it.

So, my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed your free food and discounted perks today, cause you deserve it all, and more. THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU, and by you, I mean the most amazing, loyal, genuine, fun, authentic, loving, selfless people I've ever met.

Because every Warrior matters!
-Trey
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