Imagine traveling for the holiday season airport to airport and as everyone
speed walks through the airport from one terminal to another out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of camouflage, that digital print that so many of us know and remember. As many military widows, I remember the watching Jamie put on his uniform each morning before work and I looked forward to seeing him and his uniform walk through the front door after a long day of work.
Its a site that I only see now in a framed photo hanging on my wall in my
living room. Jamie's uniform to me is now a symbol of freedom, hope,
love and respect.. while I miss seeing my soldier wear it, there are thousands of other men and women who do and I know that my soldier lives through each one of them. The selfless service, dedication, love for my country mentality that you can see each time you look into their eyes.
As I sit in the airport this holiday season traveling to Washington DC to
meet with wounded warriors, their families and gold star families, this uniform
is all around me and I feel a strong sense of pride knowing that today someone
is signing up voluntarily to protect America and ensure the freedoms we have
today are here tomorrow.
How wonderful of a life we live in, which is the reason this holiday season
I am traveling to take time to give back to our military families who give so
much. We will be visiting Walter Reed National Naval hospital to pass out
stockings, gift cards and bring chocolates to the medical staff who I feel
sometime get forgotten in the shuffle. These nurses, corpsmen, doctors and
medical staff work 365 days a year ensuring the nations wounded are cared
for. Even in the midst of furloughs, cut back and holidays they are there
comforting and caring for our wounded warriors and their families. I
remember the long days we spent in Walter Reed after Jamie was shot by a sniper
in the Zhari District of Afghanistan leaving him paralyzed from the chest down
and to live his life as a quadriplegic not able to eat, drink or breathe on
his own for nearly six months. Where daily we would
meet with his medical team and live our life behind closed doors of
the hospital doing occupational and physical therapy to get ready for yet
another surgery that Jamie had to have. I remember the cries of
wounded warriors at night for their wives or family members and banter of
little feet as children came to visit their mother or father inside the
Its a harsh reality of life that can wake you up in a split
second, it was this harsh reality that made me realize I was a selfish
American, taking for granted the simple freedoms each day with no worries of a
road side bomb detonating as I drove to my office to start my
work day, as I turned on the lights in the office or as I opened the internet to
check my email. The freedoms I used to daily were interrupted the day my
husband was wounded in action on foreign soil, not the day he deployed, because
after all, I was just a military spouse and I just supported his career decision
to serve our nation. A decision that would forever change our life as a
family. If was told three years ago, that I would have resigned from my
corporate, six figure career that I had word relentlessly for nearly 15 years, I
would have laughed and walked away. Now today December 2013, its been over
two years since I resigned from my career that I thought I needed so much.
The idea of success, the never ending amount of money and stability of knowing
each day I had everything I ever wanted.
That was until Sunday April 10, 2011 when my phone rang and I was told that
my husband Sgt Jamie Darrell Jarboe was shot and in surgery.. the day I found
out that all the money in the world, no amount of success could change the fact
that the man I loved would spend the last eleven months of his life being a
testimony to not only me but thousands around the world of selfless
sacrifice. A man that would ask me to carry on a wish to care for his
fellow service members, a man who would watch me from the heavens carrying on
his wish by creating a non profit called the Military Veteran Project.. a man
that even today not physically next to me can still motivate me each day to
carry on his story..
So this holiday season as you read this journal entry do me a favor,
whether you are inside or outside, look up to the heavens and please give
thanks to our fallen heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice for America,
words I humbly speak each day before I give thanks to God for creating such a
man to show me the true meaning of love.
My name is Melissa Jarboe, military spouse, wounded warrior wife and war widow. Today and everyday moving forward, I will honor the sacrifice of our men and women who selflessly serve our nation.