Thanks for your service, veterans

Rob Burkett

With Veteran’s Day approaching, I wanted to take a moment to recognize the men and women who have or are currently serving in the military.

With the events of the last decade, members of the military have had to bear the weight of serving at a time unlike anything we, as a nation, have seen in quite a while.

Not since the end of the Vietnam conflict have so many troops been deployed overseas. According to the Department of Defense, approximately 516,000 troops are currently deployed around the world in approximately 150 nations.

These missions range from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to guarding the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula to building water distribution systems in Tanzania.

That is just the most recent veterans returning home from service abroad. Let us not forget the generations of Americans that have served before them.

In particular, I wanted to take time to say thank you to my father.

William Burkett graduated from high school in 1972 and enlisted in the Army. In the course of his enlistment, he served in the conflict that not many will ever know about.

In the four years that he spent enlisted, my father was part of a group of young Americans who spent the best years of their lives protecting the nation without firing a shot.

During his service as an enlisted soldier, he spent his time first learning the Russian language and then using those skills in the signals intelligence service, intercepting and translating Soviet radio communications.

After his time in the Army, he used his G.I. Bill to go back to school to continue serving the nation.

He spent the next 18 years as an officer in the Army doing roughly the same thing: protecting the nation through his service in the Defense Intelligence Agency at various posts around the nation and abroad, monitoring Soviet intentions around the world.

Towards the end of his career in the Army after the fall of the Soviet Union, he also spent time in one of what I feel is the more noble activities that he pursued during his service.

Throughout the Cold War, the military fought several conflicts around the world in which American servicemen went MIA or were taken as a prisoner of war.

After the end of the Cold War, my father spent the end of his service in the military, attempting to find out what happened to those young men, giving their families closure to what was, I am sure, a hard burden to bear.

In the years since he retired from the service, my father has pursued a second career as a lawyer using his intellect that he sharpened in his military career to serve the taxpayers of Jacksonville, Fla., as a city attorney, defending the city in tort law cases.

He has often told me that the only thing that any veteran wants to be told is, “thank you for your service.”

So, as Friday draws close, take a moment to thank the veterans in your life. They are the ones that have given their dedication and talents to providing citizens with the opportunity to pursue their own American dream, whatever that may be.

So, to simply put it, thanks dad.