Veterans Tribute: The Value of a Friend

I know I sound crazy, but I like to sit in the VA waiting room.  There are always people waiting for you to make eye contact and give them a friendly, “Hi, how are you?” so they can tell you ALL about what’s going on with them.  Upon arriving for Jake’s appointment, we settled in the packed waiting room and found ourselves seated across from two men, probably in their late 70’s waiting for the eye doctor.  One was very tall, and wore a plaid, pearl snap shirt, brown polyester pants, and cowboy boots.  The other man was shorter, wearing a plaid pearl snap shirt, dark denim jeans, and cowboy boots.  They BOTH had the exact same hair cut…flat tops.  I could see their eyes light up as my little handsome man Zeek plopped down right in front of them and gave them a quick glance.  They commented him on his cowboy boots, asked him where he was from, and assured Jake and I that we better enjoy him as long as we could because time flies.  They had been waiting in the waiting room for 2 hours by the time we arrived and told us to settle in for a long wait.  I was thrilled (no really, I was).  They told us that one of them was blind in the right eye, and the other was blind in the left, and that between the both of ’em, they could still navigate a vehicle pretty well relying on the others “good eye”.  They would goof off and poke each other in the ribs, and both loved interacting with Zeek.  I could tell they had been friends for a very long time, and they both genuinely cared for, and adored the other.

Watching them enjoying each other’s company, I wondered if they had served together.  I imagined them as childhood friends growing up together, and enlisting in the Army together as young teens.  I could see them going through Basic Training together, being stationed together…fighting a battle huddled in a cold dirty trench… together.  I was not able to fill in these gaps, because surprisingly, Jake was in and out in 20 minutes, but 20 minutes was enough to see the deep friendship these men had.

It made me thankful for the people I call “friend” and thankful for  the wonderful friends Jake had during his military career.  I was so thankful that Jake was able to go on his first deployment with his childhood friends (they all enlisted together),  and that they were all there together, supporting one another and protecting each other.  I was even thankful for the crazy mischief they would get into together because I knew that it kept their spirits high.  I am amazed at the deep relationships that form through the military.  The way recruits are trained to love their fellow soldier more than themselves, doing everything in their power to keep their buddy safe; to leave no man behind.

Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  God in His wisdom, developed this very special relationship for us to gain strength from another.   Another beautiful verse on friendship is written in Proverbs 18:24 which reads, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

As friends, we are to love one another so deeply, that sometimes we have to take the chance of hurting a friend to get them back on track, when others are telling them what they want to hear, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6)

I am thankful for the deep bonds of friendship that are developed because of the Military.  I am thankful for the brotherhood that gives their lives for the man beside them, and ultimately, for those of us here at home.  Thank you Veterans, for choosing to love, protect, and fight for your brother in arms.  Thank you Todd, for being such a constant for Jake when he was away from us, and for the commitment to serve well beyond what you were asked to do.  Thank you JD and Jared for your service and for your dedication to the military, and for the friendship you have given to Jake as well.  I am deeply appreciative for the brotherhood of the military, and for the brotherhood we have in Christ.  May God continue to bless you, your families, and your brotherhood!

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13

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