As we observe Veterans Day, it’s time to remember that our wounded heroes have dreams when they come home from the battlefield. As we need them to preserve our freedom, they need us to overcome the bonds of the mental or physical damage they’ve sustained so that they can be free to pursue their own dreams.
I served in the Navy long ago in the waters of Vietnam. In the tumultuous years following that unpopular war, I focused on education, family and career. I enjoyed the VFW and informal veterans’ groups where the community of shared experience provided support.
Late in life, I learned a new joy: I love to write fiction. When my current novel, Jaspar’s War, was about to be released, I connected with a wonderful veteran’s organization. Soldiers’ Angels is based in San Antonio, Texas. Its highly skilled and devoted leaders are supported by some 20,000 volunteers around the country and the world. It features a variety of programs, including providing care packages for all deployed service women and men.
A program that touched my heart is Valour IT, which provides voice-activated computers for our heroes who have sustained physical, mental or emotional injuries that prevent the brain from communicating with the hands. The program is designed to rescue afflicted veterans from the tragic isolation of being unable to use a computer in today’s modern world. Rehabilitation, testing and software are provided by the Defense Department. But the hardware must come from private sources.
To help these heroes, Operation Next Chapter was created to raise money for the Valour IT program. All proceeds from Jaspar’s War are dedicated to this project. There are some 200 heroes on a waiting list for the computers. So far, we have raised enough to provide computers for about 30 veterans. We intend to raise the funds that will provide for all 300, and hopefully, for future needs that will inevitably arise.
Participation in presentations of the computers is a deeply moving experience. The joy of the heroes and their family is beyond comprehension. Being able to participate in the digital world facilitates contact, education, self-improvement and incentive. I have also learned that it can have an important impact on suicide prevention, for veterans and their families.
Honor and bravery come in many shapes and sizes. Our veteran heroes exhibited theirs on the battlefield. We can demonstrate ours by finding means of providing for their needs. On this Veteran’s Day, our veterans need book lovers like ourselves to find the means of expressing our thanks and respect for their service and sacrifice. Please do what you can!
CYM LOWELL was born in Montana to academics. Their encouragement of creativity, world travel, military service and self-determination produced a writer with confidence to confront the realities of life on his own terms. All proceeds from the sale of his book go to help our injured U.S. military heroes achieve their life potential through OPERATION: NEXT CHAPTER, an initiative founded by the author.