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I am thankful that I am an American.

I am thankful that I am a veteran. I am thankful that where I come from (the special operations community), words mean something. I’m thankful that I lived in a world where we had “skin in the game” and we knew that the consequences, were we to not work hard and prepare, were severe.

I’m thankful that my leaders, all flawed humans like me, gave a damn about us and shared in our victories as well as our failures.

I’m thankful that we gave our best efforts when it counted. We relied on one-another and cared for each other in horrific circumstances on the battlefield, and in my personal case, on the battlefield waiting for me here at home.

I’m thankful for the two Vets who came to visit me in my hospital room after I was severely wounded in combat, and after I asked them who they were, they told me: We are Vietnam Veterans and we are here to make sure you are getting treated better than we were treated when we came home.

I’m thankful that my immediate military leadership was ready to do whatever it took to give us the tools we needed to be successful in combat, even if our civilian leadership didn’t grasp the need to define what the “success” we were working for, was.

I’m thankful that I was fortunate to be a part of an organization that actually, truly, believed in an America where “all men are created equal” even if some of our fellow citizens, and politicians in particular, disagreed.

I’m thankful I never had to play “dress-up” and run around my town with my assault rifle, yelling at my fellow citizens to feel like I was a warrior.  I’m thankful that I made it through many complicated vetting processes’ to get into a special mission unit where we could confront evil face to face, not in some tv series, movie, or video game.

I’m thankful that my fellow citizens reach out and thank me and ask me if I need help as I, like many of my fellow service-members, struggle at times, adjusting to a different life where the values seem to be different and where the individual is king, not the team, where the individual good seems to outrank the collective good.

I’m thankful for the First Amendment of the Constitution that allows me to say what I want.

It is my hope on this Thanksgiving that our national leadership becomes strong like the team I served with in combat.  We were held to account for our actions and decisions. We were held to account by our enemies and more importantly, ourselves. We were Thankful to stand in the breach for America.

Are you?