Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

What Is It Like to Be a Veteran?

veterans day

What is it like to be a veteran? Ask my grandfather.

He’ll tell you the veteran is a young man preparing for war. It’s training to be a turret gunner in a TBM-1 torpedo bomber. It’s living in a ship and steaming across the world without knowing your mission. It’s bonding with your crew and then honoring your pilot by giving your children his name. It’s keeping a diary for your grandchildren to read 60 years later. It’s training for years and years to fly a single combat mission over the Philippines only to have your gun jam. It’s feeling an inexpressible relief when the war ends.

What is like to be a veteran? Ask my father.

He’ll tell you it’s about flying attack helicopters to support the infantry on the ground. It’s going to work before the sun is up in returning home long after it has set. It’s about making plans for your life and changing them at the drop of a hat. It’s about leading Marines and fighting for what is right. It’s about discipline, fitness, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to the principles that keep our country free.

What is like to be a veteran? Ask my mother.

She’ll tell you it’s living a life of sacrifice. It’s making a home wherever you are and then leaving it. It’s raising children alone. It’s double duty–triple duty and no easy day. It’s a life of adjustment, separation, reunion, reintegration, and readjustment. It is a life of joy and pain, fulfillment and frustration. It’s putting part of life on hold and holding on for the ride ahead.

What is it like to be a veteran? If you ask me, I’ll tell you it’s about choosing a life of service which is both an honor and a privilege. The veteran is a diplomat and a warrior. They must choose between life and death without the luxury of time or certainty, and they must live with what’s left. It is a burden and a blessing. It’s about receiving thanks and support wherever you go and still feeling unworthy.

What is it like to be a veteran? Ask my wife. She’ll tell you it’s about being proud to be an American. It’s about standing up to make a commitment and defend our way of life. It’s about opportunity and hardship. It’s about worry and uncertainty. It’s about the unknown and the uncomfortable.

We will all tell you, it’s about being proud to serve.

Photo credit: Mitch Loeber / Foter / CC BY

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About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

16 Replies

  1. What a wonderful post jason! Very touching, God bless all of you, our currently serving military men and women and our veterans. Semper Fi

  2. Tiffany

    Such incredible perspective in these words. I love that you included your mom and wife who are serving in their own unique and honorable way. While all the thanks in the world can’t equal the sacrifice you and your family have made…thank you. You bring God great glory through your words.

    1. Thanks, Tiffany. It is my honor to serve.

  3. Anna Waldherr

    This was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. I plan to share it with all the boys in my extended family. Thank you for your service.

    1. Thank you for sharing this, Anna

  4. PossessHisPromises

    Thank you for your service and your family’s service.

  5. Leon LeBorgne

    Well stated, Ladd. Thank you.

  6. Joyce E. Johnson

    Thank you, Jason for recently visiting my site. I am a Christian too, mother of two grown girls and grandmother of four. Although my husband was in college during the Vietnam War era we know what sacrifice they gave and all those serving since then have given. God bless you, and for the tribute to your father, grandfather, mother and wife, you are blessed, and are a blessing to others needing such encouragement and hope. Have a good Veterans Day and thank you for serving.

    1. Thank you for visiting, Joyce.

  7. Len Maxwell

    One of the things many people today ignore are the sacrifices made by our spouses. My wife had to pack up the family and move from here to there and two of my children were born while the Corps figured I should be somewhere else. I cannot imagine what my wife endured at that time.

    1. Len, my wife can relate. She was tasked with some pretty major life matters when I deployed overseas. I am the first to admit that the spouse has the harder job. Thanks to you both for your service!

  8. Terri

    Beautifully said (hard to type with these tears in my eyes)…thank you and your family for your faithful service.

    1. Thanks, Terri. Please pass this Veterans Day post on to others!