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Dear American Veteran

You don’t know me, but in a way you do.  I am an average American.  I have family and friends.  I work a full-time job and have responsibilities.  I also have hobbies and interests.  Every day I enjoy the freedom that this country offers me.  For the most part, I am like a lot of Americans.  What is kind of unique about my perspective is that I am a Social Worker, one that has had the privilege to be the therapist for many American Veterans.  I love that I get to do this.  What hurts my heart is that so many of you all truly lack self-compassion.  I see how hard you are on yourself.

Honestly, this was surprising to me the first time I realized this.  Knowing what I know about the American military, I am aware of all the compassionate things you do for others.  You know what I mean-- you protect people like me, you help people in less fortunate countries, you build roads and schools in those countries, you teach innocent people to protect themselves from people who want to do evil things, stateside you protect people and their belongings from wildfires, you save people in hurricanes… the list goes on and on.

I really thought that self-compassion would come easy to someone who is so compassionate with others.  I have found that I was very wrong.  Now I know this is not true of all veterans and if this message does not resonate with you, I congratulate you.  I would be glad to hear that your internal-self-compassion button is working.  For all others, please keep reading.

As an average American, I know that I struggle with how to show my appreciation to Veterans. I want to do it all the time and I think about it frequently.  I want you to know that your efforts are appreciated.  I get to be free because of you and people like you.  Sure, I have done volunteer work with veteran-friendly causes and I have verbally thanked the stranger in uniform that I see at a restaurant, but that isn’t nearly enough.

So, this might not seem fair, but as an average American, can I ask you for one more favor?  Will you please work on your self-compassion?  I know this isn’t an easy task but I know it is one that is possible.  Forgiveness and empathy are choices.  I encourage you to consider these difficult but beautiful choices. Also, please keep in mind, self-compassion can look a lot of different ways.  Choose one or more!  Allow yourself to spend time with people you love, exercise, forgive yourself, forgive others, take a class, read a book, love others, and I would be most pleased if you loved yourself.  I know all these can seem like a tall order but consider giving them a try.  Just know, the average American is rooting for you.  

Oh, and one more thing.  Thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

Brandie, An average American

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