As we look toward celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S., it’s nice to see folks focused on being grateful. Whether it’s a social media post, or just simply reaching out to a loved one, many expound on the multitude of things they are thankful for in their lives.
And then there are others.
The reality is that in this country, you have every right to choose. Be thankful or don’t. Be happy or not. Speak out against something you believe shouldn’t happen, or choose to stay silent.
Whether you are the type of person who loves this time of year, or you detest the holidays, you have that right. And those rights are protected by brave men and women who choose to leave their own lives, their own family and the safety of their own homes to give us the freedom to choose.
What If We Didn’t Have the Freedom to Choose?
“It’s a life changing event. After two visits I was able to shift my mindset toward shining a light on what was important.” ~ Ricardo Montalvo discussing Heroes on the Water.
As a veteran, former Border Patrol Agent and family man, Ricardo Montalvo knows life changing events. In telling us his story, there is one thing that stands out about him – he is committed to service.
After researching various branches of the military, Ricardo decided to join the Marine Corps. Although he was only 17, he had a passion to serve his country, and a desire to stand on his own.
“I always liked making my own path. My family are hard-working people who wanted me to have every opportunity, including going to a university,” says Ricardo. “I decided I did not want to be a dependent and joined the Marines.”
As a “Red Patcher,” Ricardo and his team were the second wave and responsible for preparing landing areas. He also took on additionally responsibilities for embarkation as well as becoming a fire team/squad leader. However, another life changing event pulled Ricardo away from the military.
What kind of person chooses to volunteer large amounts of time to a non-profit after enduring a sexual assault, major injury and chronic body pain, survives major lung surgery after battling meningitis and epilepsy, and even today struggles some days to get out of bed? That would be a person of fortitude and bravery, like Dawn.
Dawn Martin, recently appointed chapter coordinator for the Heroes on the Water chapter at Brooks Army Medical Center, has spent a lifetime in service. Starting at 18 years old, she left her friends and family behind to join the Navy – not an easy thing to do, particularly for a young person.
As we close in on North Texas Giving Day, it’s time to think about making a major impact for those who have given so much. The brave men and women who contribute large portions of their lives to keeping us free, ensuring we can practice whatever religion we choose, speak out against those who might oppress us, and even show up to rescue us during natural disasters.
These heroes come home to world that often feels foreign. They return with physical injuries and mental disabilities that inhibit their ability to return to a civilian life. Let’s provide them hope!
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it’s difficult for many to think about communities being healthy. There are so many displaced, so much devastation – and yet, there is so much hope, kindness and support that it helps us to feel the strength of our community.
Our brothers and sisters are at the top of our minds, and as we reach out to ensure everyone is safe, we continually find stories of heroism – although they don’t think of it that way. Our volunteers and veteran community jumped into action, whether it was helping a person’s grandmother get out of her flooded home to serving food for the multitude of first responders in the area, they are doing what they always do for us – serve.
Heroes on the Water serves these men and women through our therapeutic kayak fishing experiences. Not because it’s fun, not because it’s outdoors, but because it works. These events support our veterans and their families in getting back on track through proven outdoor eco-therapy and camaraderie. We support them, and now they can support you.
That is the power of service. The ripple effect of a person who believes in serving God, country, family and community. And that is why we are so proud to serve these brave men and women. They are ready to show up regardless of the situation.