Hurd on the Hill: Honoring our Heroes

May 17, 2016
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns
A grateful people says thank you

The 23rd Congressional District of Texas has a very special relationship with the U.S. Military. With Fort Bliss on the western edge, Joint Base San Antonio on the East and Laughlin Air Force Base in between, soldiers and airmen are as ubiquitous to our district as breakfast tacos and beautiful sunsets.

Perhaps because of how often we see them, we might take for granted how much their daily sacrifices impact our lives. With Armed Forces Day coming up this Saturday and Military Appreciation Month happening all of May, this is the perfect time to stop and reflect upon their service.

During my almost decade as an undercover operative in the CIA, I worked closely at times with American Special Forces. Their dedication, discipline and courage were remarkable. Even more remarkable was their love for country and the family they left at home, not to mention their devotion to their fellow brothers and sisters in arms.

Each one had their own story about why they felt called to join institutions that are centuries old and responsible for securing liberty in not only our own nation, but in so many others around the world. Many are following in the footsteps of family members who bravely served before them. They shared stories of valiant acts they heard retold growing up, inspiring them to answer the call of service.

Others are first-generation members of the military, who joined in response to the unprecedented and growing threats that target our way of life. Some experienced terrorist attacks first-hand or lost family members and friends on September 11. They know the consequences of allowing evil to grow unchecked and are determined to do their part in taking the fight to those who seek to do us harm.

Some joined so that they could travel the world or have their education paid for, and along the way fell in love with a life of honor and service. They can point to concrete accomplishments and know that they are making a real difference on behalf of their family and their country.

No matter the reason for becoming a sailor, soldier, airman or marine, their decision has a direct impact on our daily lives, even if we cannot see it. Our freedoms remain secure and our way of life continues unhindered, because of their willingness to put their own lives on the line, often serving in horrific environments with uncommon valor.

This week, Congress is focused on our military as we work to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which determines funding levels and priorities for the Department of Defense, providing for our common defense. For our service members and their families, it expands access to health care, improves benefits and fully funds a much deserved pay-increase. This bill makes it clear to our friends and enemies that our nation is ready to defend itself, ensuring that the men and women who serve in our military will have the resources they need to succeed, while also assuring their families are taken care of.

“Thank you” are simple words that likely none of us say enough – especially to the brave men and women who serve in uniform to protect our nation. The ones I know don’t really need the thank you, as they serve for duty, not gratitude. This year let’s celebrate Armed Services Day and Military Appreciation Month not only by thanking those service members we meet, but by taking a moment to think how we can give back to a community of men, women, and families that have already given so much on our behalf. As a grateful people, it is the very least we can do.