Doing Their Part to Heal Wounds
The true cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan does not show in federal deficits or spending bills, no matter how large. It isn’t the trillion spent going there, being there, and coming back. It can’t be measured in dollars — though dollars are and will be needed for years to come.
The real price is paid in flag-draped caskets, in lost legs and arms, in damaged brains and disfigured faces, and the absence from the nation’s military of highly trained patriotic and heroic men and women who must now — somehow — live as civilians instead.
They’re Americans all, and their losses came in service to this nation.
Thanks to modern military medical methods, since 9/11 dozens of our wounded now survive for every one who dies in battle. Many, many more are coming home from these wars, compared with the myriad who lost their lives in Vietnam, or Korea, on Pacific Islands, in Africa or Europe.
Gentrys Point the Way
Unlike any other time, these badly wounded men and women are coming home to face enormous difficulties as they attempt to put their lives together in new ways. A month before his own death, President Abraham Lincoln reminded the nation of its duty “to care for him who shall have borne the battle” — and that is just what a band of generous, dedicated local people here have been doing.
Martha and Peyton Gentry sell houses and land for a living. They are real estate brokers and have the ReMax office in the village of Pinehurst.
But the Gentrys are more than that, because they are — with help from a growing team of others — going about Lincoln’s caring, one soldier and one soldier’s family at a time.
A few years ago, at a real estate meeting, they heard about Sentinels of Freedom — a national organization with the idea of raising money to provide four-year “life scholarships” to help grievously wounded vets become more self-sufficient.
Everybody faces ordinary hardships finding a home, continuing an education, working to support a family. In the case of these vets, all those tasks of life are made more difficult because of their sacrifice.
A National First
The Gentrys started a local chapter of Sentinels of Freedom and set about recruiting others to raise at least $100,000 — the cost of one four-year life scholarship. They found an ally in retired Maj. Gen Sid Shachnow, who was skeptical at first. As many might, he wondered whether this was just an advertising ploy from a real estate company. The Gentrys made a believer out of him, and Shachnow set himself to the task.
Others, like Sandhills Community College President John Dempsey, joined in. People reached deep into their pockets — and some hereabouts have very deep pockets indeed — and came up with the cash needed for the first, and then the second, and then the third, and now the fourth wounded warrior family.
This is the only Sentinels of Freedom chapter in the country to raise its own funds and do so much, one family after another. Nationally, the Sentinels organization turned to corporate donors, but here it’s the Shachnows, Dempseys and others who are shouldering Lincoln’s task.
It is they who are “binding up the nation’s wounds.” They deserve our thanks and praise.
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