March 29, 2017 (Stockton, CA) - I am now 4,600 miles into an 8,000 mile loop to California. This is the longest planned trip since my last entanglement with surgery, radiation and chemo. Physically I am almost fit and able, but there are some deficits that probably would keep others close to home. For me the obsession calls me and drives me into a leap of faith. It makes me ignore the practical considerations. I think I really do meet the definition of obsessed, could that be the basis for a service connected claim of disability?
Almost every day of the past eleven I have been helped by the kindness of others. Businesses have offered emergency services, strangers have performed roadside repairs, and veterans have come together to help a brother in need. They all understand my mission and have stood ready to help without any reward other than a thank you.
Today, near the end of another long day of riding, two young Marine veterans offered the hospitality of their home for no other reason than wanting to help another veteran.
Shay Rosas and her spouse, Ivan Lopez, are among our newest crop of wounded warriors. They met, and married, while in the Corps. To them the sacrifices and obligations of military service are a life long committment as sacred as their personal vows to each other.
Shay is a volunteer Veterans Service Officer with the VFW post at Manteca, California. she is the first VSO of this area and fills a position that was created because she saw the need and she pushed local government administrators for the funds to create the office. She enjoys the work and relates that she is following the desire to help veterans as her grandfather would have done had health issues not prevented him from being a VSO.
Tonight the three of us spent a couple of hours discussing the plight of veterans left behind. We all recognize that too many of our brothers and sisters simply don't have the skills to navigate the bureaucracy that is there to help, but that is often stymied by the lack of budget and fully trained staff.
I am again impressed by the capabilities of this new generation if veterans. They seem so much more aware of the fact that the ideals of the Oath of Enlistment are not dismissed when the uniform is taken off and hung in a closet. For some of us the work never stops. The mission may change. The weapons are different. But that sense of devotion never wavers. It, like the spirit of our Republic, remains strong even though the body has been wounded.
Three days ago I talked with a group of ten active duty Marines at Yuma, Arizona. I explained what my mission was and that I thought of them every day. It comforts me that there are millions of veterans like Shay and Ivan to join me in offering our wishes that our active duty warriors remain safe. "Semper Fi," Marines - and thank you!