The following was posted on Facebook by Randy Baker, who is my boss/ client/ friend/ leader along with Kelli Willoughby for the USO of North Carolina. I have been super privileged to be a part of the Warrior Reset program for the past couple of years. Kelli and Randy have several extraordinary programs they created for the USO.
Her words moved me, so I’m sharing them (with her permission) with You.
“This will probably be the longest post I ever make but I have had something heavy weighing on my heart for the past few days and I felt compelled to share.
On Sunday morning I was having breakfast at the Waffle House off Western Blvd. in Jacksonville. As I sat there with my friends, recovering after a night out, I started to sit quietly and observe the very young Marines interacting all around us without a care in the world, almost like boys pretending to be men. Even with vulgar sense of humors, they still had innocence about them.
I started to feel really emotional as I compared them to my Marines and couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized that it was because I had never seen my Marines so care free and it actually broke my heart. Of course I have seen them be silly and they are some of the funniest people I know but I have known them all through war, which stole their innocence and that thought caused me physical pain. These are men and women who I love dearly and they don’t get to have that innocence back. They are warriors and they are scarred. Then seeing these young Marines who have no idea that the places they go will change them and I wanted to protect them.
I remembered the infantry Soldiers I met when they first arrived at KAF before they went to their FOB in Afghanistan. So excited and full of life and motivation and so innocent and how their eyes and souls changed when they came back to our base on their way home from R&R. I wish I could give that innocence back to them.
I was then comforted by a song from one of my lost Marines and immediately felt a call to action. No doubt from Jimmy who made me promise to never forget his friends and to always of his Marines.
This week, I have spent my days with 40 service members, some career soldiers but most of them young Marines.Through these thoughts that side swiped me on Sunday morning and through my involvement in our Warrior Reset program, I find an even more renewed passion for caring for our troops. I want to continue honoring the amazing Warriors who have turned into family for me and the sacrifices they’ve made on my behalf and to give new skills to our military’s future leaders so that they can cope with the inevitable challenges they will face. Maybe just maybe, I can help them preserve a little bit of their innocence just a little bit longer than they would have.
Thank you for everyone’s support of my love and passion for caring for our military and for the military itself. I consider myself so blessed to be a part of this amazing family and even more fortunate to be able to support my peers through my work with USO of North Carolina. This is my life. This is why I was put on this planet.”
Courage, Heart, Determination, Action.
She speaks and on it so beautifully.