Happiness is Your Duty

 

Like so many other disabled veterans I find myself spending quite a lot time in hospitals and clinics waiting to be served by the health care professionals. I expect half my time is spent in civilian facilities and the other half of the time spent in Veteran facilities. A few weeks ago I was at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia (which is quite a nice facility) and I went to the cafeteria for lunch. The cafeteria was overflowing with Veterans and their families. These Veterans were from WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While I was sitting there eating my lunch I noticed that everybody in the cafeteria was smiling, joking and they appeared to be happy just to be together. That is completely different than my experiences at civilian clinics and hospital cafeterias where everyone looked sad, withdrawn and depressed. I wondered why?

 

Later that week I went to the animal shelter in Berryville Virginia to look at the dogs and cats that were up for adoption. I noticed all the dogs were happy. They had happy barks and not the stressed barks you sometimes hear when there are many dogs together in one place. When I left there I wondered why? Then It came to me. Just like the Vets that have been through hell, the dogs, for the most part, have been through hell and are happy to be alive. Even some of the dogs and cats you’ve seen in TV ads, have survived and are happy to be alive. I guess it could be said; that until you’ve been to the gates of hell you don't have an idea of what heaven is all about. I expect that most Americans who talk about how bad things are have not experience what is really bad. Badness as depicted on television, for the most part, is not real. We see on the news what goes on around the world. Children dying, people killing people and for a moment or two we feel bad about it. However, as soon as we get to our computers, cell phones, or our favorite TV show, it passes and everything's okay again. When a Veteran goes to war, he puts his life in the hands of others. His commanders make sure that if he must pay the ultimate sacrifice, that sacrifice is not wasted. For a soldier, the most important people are the warriors he fights beside. They do the best they can to protect each other and in doing so develop a love that cannot be explained. If you are fortunate enough to make it through a tour of duty in a war zone, you owe it to those that sacrificed their lives to live happy and honorable. I cannot overstate the importance of coming back from combat after all of the horror that you witness and leading a happy, productive life, because that's your duty. 

 

It is the same for pets. Our pets simply depend on us for their well being and happiness. I am sure there is a special place in heaven for those who care for homeless animals, as I am sure there is a special place in hell for those who abuse them.

 

The dogs in the shelters and those of us who are Vets have a lot in common, we’ve both been to edge and we survived. Veterans need opportunities and sometimes a lot of help, to have happy lives. The same is true for shelter animals; it’s up to us to give them the life that they really deserve.

 

We have many great organizations supporting the disabled, such as Wounded Warriors, and I encourage you to support them. Thanking a Vet for his or her service means a lot. I wish I could say the same about some of the pet rescue organizations who solicit contributions. If you check out these organizations you will find that most of the contributions they receive go to pay salaries, retirement and advertising. If you want to help shelter animals, support your local shelter or rescue organization. Volunteer if you can, and, much like those who help the Vets, remember that the greatest contribution may be the gift of your time. 

 

 

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