I’ve received a lot of flak from lawyers, congressional aides, local government, etc. when stating I am a veteran asking for help or assistance. My words are just disregarded, implying I want preferential treatment or pity like a victim when put in a position to defend our rights. I think it might be helpful for them and others if I clarify what that one word “veteran” means to us.

When declaring the Oath of Enlistment, hand held high “I, Dawn A Simonds do solemnly swear, that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…So help me God” my whole body shook, heart raced.

I’m thinking ‘Lord what have I done?’ I just wanted to travel while going to college…but give up my very life? (Airman’s creed) ‘What am I getting myself into?’ Then conviction flowed into my soul, my words clearer, more concise, strengthening my determination and purpose to follow through and give it my all.

I quickly learned during the years served the repercussions of taking that oath. The greatest irony, a well-kept not talked about truth is what every member in every branch of the armed forces faces when signing on the dotted line and raising of our right hand. We completely lay down and relinquish our own personal rights and forfeit our freedoms while fighting to defend and protect yours!

That oath requires us to do so. We fall under the Uniform Code Of Military Justice (UCMJ). The commitment to put the needs and welfare of our country takes precedence over our own in order to function. We know what is required of us and freely vow to do so, not comprehending all that it entails until actually lived through.

So, when our personal rights are challenged, it is second nature to fight and defend as it’s engrained, a part of who we are. I think I can speak for all of us when I say ‘No one who makes these sacrifices, (some more than others) come out unscathed, no one.’

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Fast forward years later as in our situation today, our township is mandating us to leave our own property and in doing so, become homeless.

So, following the chain of command as taught, led us to our congressman’s aide, who informed us they will not intercede or help in any way. Not even inquiring on our behalf stating, that it is a ‘different’ government.. What?

I don’t know what kind of oath they took for ‘We the People’ but it obviously was not anything resembling ours! Basically, we were told to even worse than stand down! Just relinquish those rights you swore to defend and protect, set your butt down in that recliner, and let that different government just take them away?

We were taught to be warriors, trained to be warriors, COMMANDED to be warriors, and now years later just flick a switch and turn it off? Could you? Where would our rights as Americans be today if we turned it off back then?

I cannot help but think the lack of understanding of what all this oath encompasses (even amongst ourselves) contributes greatly as to why so many vets take their own lives after leaving military service.

After all, how can anyone really “acclimate” to life on American soil when acclimating means letting go of all you valiantly fought and sacrificed to defend? Then get faced with the reality, the biggest threat to our sovereignty, liberty and justice for all, lies not outside our borders, but within.

The declining enlistments leading to lowering of standards confirms the unwillingness of Americans to commit to those sacrifices today.

So, when someone says “I’m a vet” like me, we are not whining about our circumstances nor implying special treatment is deserved.

It is a battle cry of sorts, a warning that WE are Americans that made an oath before God to defend and protect. We will not give in. We will not back down. There is no shut off valve! I hope and pray this gives insight for those whom have never known, felt, or walked the path of an American Veteran.

USAF Sgt Dawn A.S. Williams Veteran