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I remember it was January 1966. I left for San Diego, going to boot camp. I was full of patriotism, duty, and honor.

"I, Jerry Clark, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

What a commitment. I was so proud to have volunteered to serve my country. Entering the military was a journey that required determination, intention, and unwavering dedication. I was trained in physical fitness and military readiness.

In addition to the physical and mental aspects, military life requires a solid allegiance to honor, and integrity. We were expected to adhere to a strict code of conduct and embrace core values such as loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

Going into the military is a transformative process marked by fidelity, sacrifice, and resolution. It's a journey that molds individuals into capable, resilient, and honorable defenders of our country.

The training we received is second to none, and the ability to perform is amazing. The teaching and molding are so good that it becomes challenging to forget what we learned when we return to civilian life. Not all veterans have a difficult time transitioning into civilian life, yet there are ones who do struggle for years.

The Veterans Administration reports that 18 to 21 veterans commit suicide every day, yes, every day.

We have a veteran’s group that meets every Thursday and has for the past almost 11 years. It is a place where veterans can come and tell their stories and feel supported by ones who understand and appreciate their experiences.

Too many veterans today suffer from homelessness, relationships, legal issues, drugs and alcohol, employment issues, transitioning through the VA maze for benefits, and many other difficult circumstances.

It is so easy to celebrate sports and entertainment magnates and overlook the ones who signed up to give all they had for the freedom of our nation.

Do you remember that freedom isn't free?

Watch for the blind spots.

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