Freedom Isn’t Free

Before my son graduated from Texas A&M University and entered the Air Force, I took our freedom for granted. Since then articles on the plight of veterans hold a new meaning. My son was deployed twice but he is one of the lucky ones. He escaped any lasting trauma. Other veterans haven’t been as fortunate, because you know what? Freedom isn’t free.

For most of us, the Fourth of July means food, family, fireworks and fun. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. For those veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and some estimates say this is as many as one half million vets, this holiday is difficult. For them, fireworks sound like artillery and throw them back on the battlefield amid the death and destruction of war.

Some veterans have placed signs in their yards saying, “Combat veteran lives here. Please be courteous with fireworks.” They hope this will increase awareness and encourage discussions about PTSD. If you plan to shoot off fireworks tonight, please give any veterans living nearby a heads up. This allows them to prepare to deal with their possible reactions and keeps them from being caught unaware.

We owe these men and woman because of the cost they’ve paid for our freedom. We owe them whatever help we can offer. That brings up the question, what helps veterans deal with PTSD or the other issues plaguing them after serving our country? In doing research? I’ve discovered two agencies who work tirelessly to change veterans’ lives for the better.

While researching my current book, the third in my Wishing Texas Series, To Tame A Texas Cowboy, I visited Patriot Paws in Rockwall, Texas. This agency provides service dogs to veterans with physical disabilities or PTSD. Service dogs can perform tasks a disabled vet is unable to or provide emotional support. Either way, they help veterans regain control of their lives. Unfortunately, agencies such as Patriot Paws are too few and the wait lists too long. Veterans often wait YEARS to receive their service dog. For more information on go to http://www.patriotpaws.org.

Another wonderful agency helping veterans is Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship south of downtown Dallas. I discovered this wonderful organization when doing research for Roping the Rancher. My hero turned his horse ranch into a similar organization when he left the military. Like numerous veterans, he struggled to find a purpose with meaning after returning to civilian life. Equest’s program,

Hooves For Heroes, does amazing work helping veterans struggling with the lack of purpose issue, as well as, depression and PTSD. For more information go to http://www.equest.org.

No matter what your plans today, I wish everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July. But please take time to remember those veterans whose lives have been impacted serving our country. Some of them and their families have paid a very high price because Freedom isn’t free.

Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of Roping the Rancher. 

Julie Benson
Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.
Updated: July 4, 2018 — 6:41 am

37 Comments

  1. Thank you for putting out the plight left to many of our veterans. Freedom is the most expensive gift given to strangers by volunteers. We all owe them beyond measure.

    1. Jerri Lynn, well said. I agree that there’s no way we can ever repay our veterans. Thanks for stopping by this morning.

  2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post. Happy 4th of July!

    1. I hope you have a wonderful, safe 4th as well Melanie!

  3. Happy 4th of July, I loved this informative blog. Many don’t realize freedom isn’t free. I love our military and all they sacrifice to keep us safe. May God bless and keep each and everyone one of them, as well as us civilians who get to live in the Land of the free, and the home of the brave, because these heroes gave their all for each & everyone of us!

    1. Tonya, you’re right. Many people forget how much our military sacrifice. I know we often don’t realize how much their families sacrifice, too. They go months or a year without seeing their loved ones. Kids give up having their father with them. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

  4. I never thought of that. How sad they cannot enjoy fireworks.

    1. Debra, not all vets have a problem, but for those with PTSD, it can be tough. The closer the fireworks are, I think the more difficult they can be to cope with. That’s why it’s important neighbors warn vets that live nearby. Part of the problem comes from being caught off guard. I was a person who hadn’t thought of how this could be an issue for veterans. But when we know better, we do better and if we all work to raise awareness, that’s a start. Thanks for stopping by this morning.

  5. I’m glad your son doesn’t suffer from PTSD. It really is bad for so many of our soldiers. I have heard how fireworks can trigger it. I just wish people were still considerate about shooting them off in neighborhoods. It’s illegal in my town, but it seems no one even thinks twice about law, people, pets or people’s properties. My husband was out watering the grass late last night in case there is a fire from fireworks. I’ll be up most of tonight just keeping an eye on things. When I was younger, I had a friend who’s family used to shoot fireworks form their back yard and it was scary how fast the entire field went up in flames when one landed in it.

    1. Wow, Janine, an entire field going up in flames?! I bet that was scary. I hope you’re safe tonight. You’re right, people often don’t think about the law, the dry conditions or how their actions affect those around them. In addition to tonight being tough for vets, it’s also difficult for animal shelters. They see their highest intake numbers of the year tonight and tomorrow. So many dogs can’t handle the fireworks either. They get upset, get loose and end up lost. We’ll all have to say prayers for vets and pets today. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Happy 4th of July, Julie, and thank you for the thoughtful post. It is the perfect time to remember all of our veterans, those who came home and those who didn’t, as well as those who continue to pay for our liberty–both at home and abroad. I, too, hope neighbors of veterans are thoughtful–a wonderful point of consideration. In fact, it’s a day I myself tend to be more thoughtful about those who serve and our long U.S. history than today’s 4th of July spectacular events.

    Yes, it’s true, “freedom isn’t free.” (Thanks to Toby Keith for his song “American Soldier” and the line, “Cause freedom don’t come free”) And it’s not just for a day either:

    –December 16, 1773: The Boston Tea Party
    –April 19, 1774: Open combat at Lexington and Concord, Mass.
    –June 14, 1775: Establishment of the Second Continental Congress that went on to form the Continental Army headed by George Washington.
    –July 2, 1776: “The Lee Resolution” for declaring U.S. independence passed Congress with no opposing votes. “Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, ‘The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.'”
    –July 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence was released to the public in several different forms after the text was ratified by Congress. (The final copy in the National Archives was signed Aug 2, 1776.)

    And in addition to thinking of our soldiers, I think we should be grateful for the freedoms we have inherited, as well as concerned and active on behalf of those freedoms currently at risk.

    1. Eliza, thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I couldn’t have said it better. Have a wonderful and safe 4th.

  7. A very thoughtful, compassionate post, Julie. Loved it.

    1. Thanks Pam! I’m saving the blog idea I had from our filly discussion on the line “I’m going out to feed” for next month. I’m going to have fun with that one! Have a happy and safe 4th.

  8. Julie, this is a great post and so timely. I’ve been watching the PBS series on the First World War and the emergence of “shell shock,” or what they called PTSD. Only another veteran can fully understand.
    It’s also a good post for the Fourth of July. I’m researching Lexington and Concord, the Boston Massacre and the Battle of Bunker Hill for a possible historical novel. It’s easy to take our freedom for granted in 2018, but blood was shed to get us here.
    I will be thinking on this today.

    1. Kathy, I love researching WWI and WWII. I’ll have to check out the PBS series. I have three boys and that’s something they would be interested in too. Good luck with the historical novel, and thanks for taking time to chat with me today.

  9. Great post.So many people are unaware of the plight of our returning servicemen.

  10. Estella, thank you for stopping by this morning. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

  11. Thank you for the post. My cousin just retired from the army and he saw a lot and suffered along with his men. But Thank God he made it out alive and he seems to be ok. I pray for those still serving and protecting us while we enjoy life, and those who have served. God Bless them all.

    1. Mary, please thank your cousin for his service. I’m so glad he came home safely. Those of us who’ve never been there can’t understand what he and his men saw and went through. I too, pray every day for those who serve and for their families. Thank you for stopping by today. Have a safe and fun 4th.

  12. Great post! May we daily pray for our military and their families.

    Happy 4th of July

    1. Caryl, I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for praying for our military service people and their families. Have a great 4th.

  13. Thanks for the great post and Happy fourth of July.

    1. Thanks for stopping by to say hello, and I hope your 4th is happy, too.

  14. Beautiful article for the 4th of July, Julie! I worked at the VA for six and one-half years, and just walking the floors there (that’s all you had to do) made you very aware of how much our vets give to us and our country. Kudos to you recognizing them!

    1. Hebby, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It’s amazing how talking to veterans or having a child serve in the military can change a person’s viewpoint. Thanks for popping in. I hope your 4th is blessed.

  15. Thanks for posting. I hope all that shoot off fireworks tonight will take into consideration if a veteran lives near them.

    1. Kim, I hope people take care, as well, both of veterans and the fire risk. So many places, especially in the west, are so dry. Sadly, there are already many fires. We don’t need careless people starting more. Have a wonderful 4th and thanks for stopping by today.

  16. Thanks or sharing your post… we usually have people around our neighborhood that like to play around with fireworks… usually worry about fires and debris left around or how upset my sister’s dog gets… we lost our parakeet on New Years because the noise scared it to death… thanks for bringing this topic with veterans up.

    1. Colleen, so sorry about your parakeet. People often forget how fireworks upset animals. I was shocked when I heard July4/5 is the biggest intake day for shelter. I wish someone would crest silent fireworks! Stay safe today.

  17. Thank you for reminding me

    1. Thanks for stopping by today.

  18. I have never thought about how fireworks affected our veterans until I read an article a few years ago. You are so correct in how we need to give them warning if it is being done in our neighborhood. It is sad that many of our veterans have to wait that long for service dogs and other services. We do not do enough for them when the return home.

    1. Sonnetta, thank you for stopping by today. I worry about our veterans, too, because we don’t do enough to help them.

  19. My brother is a disabled veteran and was deployed in a war zone in the 90s. His wife is a combat veteran.

  20. I am familiar with such programs here in NE TN. We are involved with many veterans groups and the Red Cross Service To The Armed Forces. The local equestrian program is Small Miracles. It service more than just veterans and offered its programs to veterans (and others, I think) free of charge. They are a nonprofit and rely heavily on donations and volunteers. RC was able to get a $500 grant for them a couple of years ago. No one rides in this program, but they have the responsibility of caring for the horse after walking it around, they stop to do discussions and art projects related to introspection and problems they are dealing with. The grant provided art supplies and snacks for the veterans. Another local group has a 5K run every year to raise funds to provide a service dog for a veteran. Last year they raised enough funds for one dog. Their goal is to raise enough for two dogs this year. Depending on the extent of the training the dog needs, they can cost up to about $20,000.
    We are trying to get a program started at the local veterans hospital that will provide a place for veterans that have problems with fireworks. Red Cross will support it. We hope a safe place within the hospital can be found where the noise from the fireworks can’t be heard can be set up. There can be refreshments, maybe movies or some sort of games to keep them occupied. Last year we found a veteran sitting in the ER waiting room because he was upset and didn’t know where to go so he could get away from the noise. The VA has a new director, so I feel we will be able to get such a program started before next year.
    There was a program mentioned on TV this morning about a program that helps PTSD sufferers learn to deal with the problem and it seems to have had some success. You may be able to find the clip. It was on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Show. This is the link:http://www.today.com/video/-it-s-post-traumatic-growth-inside-a-facility-changing-the-lives-of-u-s-heroes-1270089795701.

  21. As a military mother I appreciate anything that helps our veterans. My son is a 2 times veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Luckily he came home okay. His father on the other hand didn’t. He ended up with PTSD and had to retire from the military. Thank you for sharing.

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