Written by: CW3 Jason Nazarenko
US Army, MH-60M Pilot
Just the other day on my morning run, I was thinking about how thankful I am for my family and friends. I was thinking about how my good friends will call my wife to make sure everything is okay and ask my son if he needs anything. I have a neighbor who is so grateful for the sacrifices that he sees my family making as I am deployed again (for the eleventh time), that he insisted I let him repair a broken window at my house; he said it was the least he could do. I have been truly blessed and honored as my patriotic friends and family thank me for the job I do and the sacrifices I make. I have been stopped and thanked in restaurants more times than I could count and I am sure that I am not alone in this. My response is always one of true gratitude as I thank them for their support. I do however, try to change the subject and shy away from any accolades because I know there are others who have sacrificed much more than I have.
As I was running, I thought about the small things that we veterans are thankful for while deployed. The simple things that most people would not think twice about are the true milestones that we can be thankful for. Items like the water being warm when you go to take a shower or just the fact that there was water there at all are truly reasons to be joyful. A night where the air conditioner does not quit working in your sleeping tent is always a great start to everyone’s day.
I thought about these small things and how they keep our minds off the larger items that most people probably assume that we are concerned with. Those bigger and more important things like attacks in the middle of the night, indirect fire or a critical mistake on our own part that would cause someone else to be injured are ever-present, but they are overshadowed by the confidence in our training and prior experiences from our time spent overseas. I realized that by being blessed with friends and family who show their appreciation by looking out for my loved ones back at home, I can sleep a little easier and focus on the here and now.
Many times, I have heard people say that a simple “thank you” to a military member seems so insignificant, like there should be something more. But I can truly tell you that the words “thank you” go so much further than you could ever know. When the words are uttered by a man proudly sporting a Vietnam Veterans hat, you know never received the accolades he rightly deserved. When those words come from the middle-aged woman at Walmart, wearing the gold star pin on her lapel, you know she felt the sting of war all too close. Those words that may seem too simple and insignificant to say come with a meaning that no words can express but with an understanding that those of us who serve and have served understand completely.
I commend each and every one of you who takes the time to thank your military. I can truly say that without your thanks and support, we could not do what we do.
Today, I stand up and I salute not only my brothers and sisters who stand alongside me, but I also commend and thank you, the supporter!