What Does It mean to be a Veteran…

Today I had the privilege of speaking at Victory Elementary School in Portsmouth, Virginia on what it means to be a Veteran. This is what I said. I hope that it helped some understand what I feel it means to be a veteran. I think it did, for as I walked out of the school, several children spoke to me as I walked by and simply said Thank You.

What Does It mean to be a Veteran – David Reavis

I was asked to speak to you to tell you what it means to be a veteran. There are a lot of things that come to mind. The dictionary says that a veteran is someone who is long experienced or practiced in an activity or capacity or a person who has served in the armed forces.

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg – or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

I have come to realize that there is more to being a veteran than most people realize.

Being a veteran means you are willing to give everything and expect nothing in return. It means that you volunteered to serve so others have a choice. The choice to say what you think, to worship as you choose, to be what you want to be, the choice to live where you want to live.

Being a veteran is being part of a brother/sister hood, it is something that you carry with you for the rest of your life. The experience’s that you live through which you are very thankful that you did are life-altering events and can change a person within a split second.
Being a veteran means learning that the measure of a person is WHO they are not WHAT they are. Learning that the person who is a little different from you, is really just like you. They love, they fear, they care, they laugh and they cry.

It means sacrifice; It can be a little sacrifice such as standing watch in the middle of the night, It can be a big sacrifice such as missing birthdays, anniversaries and holidays because duty called and you answered the call. It could mean the ultimate sacrifice of laying down your life in the defense of your nation or your fellows. Whether you believe in the cause or not, it is that individual veteran who said, “with this selfless act of service I hereby lay down my life in order to benefit someone else.” And that selfless act should never be forgotten

It means seeing a fellow veteran in a store, on the street, in a park, or a hospital room and instantly having an unshakable bond with that person. Knowing that they have walked the same path you have, they have stood the watch, standing sentry in the middle of the night, that they have given of themselves for something greater than self.
Seeing him or her and knowing he or she is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being – a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

A veteran is someone who chokes up when he or she hears the Star Spangled Banner, torn between a combination of pride for having served, for longing of the days past, for relief that the watch has been turned over.
A veteran is someone who hears the call of a bugle playing Taps, the sound of a 21 man gun salute, and pauses, knowing that a fellow soldier, sailor, airman or marine is now is resting, their burden lifted.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU”.


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