The title may seem a bit odd for a military blog, but I have learned a thing or two since retiring six years ago. Namely, there are people out there who are willing to put in long hours, dedicate themselves to a cause, and work together as a team…and they don’t wear a uniform. They don’t even get paid.

They are volunteers, and their only desire is to give back to the millions of men and women who are serving or have served.

I have seen it first hand. We began a program a little over a year ago to educate, train and prepare severely wounded veterans for a career. Initially, the small group who created the organization had no choice but to do it all: organize, raise funding, write letters, you name it. But as awareness of the program grew, people began to call and offer their expertise and time to further the cause. Eventually a new team was created consisting of several talented individuals, each as dedicated as those of us who began the program.

And we are no different than thousands of other service or veteran organizations around the country. If you walk into a USO office, a VA medical center, or virtually any service-related organization they will be there. Volunteers comprise a huge percentage of the workforce, but instead of a salary they earn smiles and a knowledge that they are making a difference. All they require is a sincere belief in the program where they work. It is a remarkable phenomenon.

We have all heard that America is the most giving country in the world, and now that I have seen benevolence in action, I believe it.

Are they heroes? Ask someone who has been comforted by a volunteer during a personal crisis and you’ll know the answer.


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