Meet Johnnie, one of many Veterans in our program who asked if he could design a Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) bracelet to commemorate the soldiers who are or were captured and held in custody by the enemy. When asked to explain the inspiration behind his design, he says:
My military service has enhanced all of the things I was taught growing up: treat others as you want to be treated, respect your elders, never judge a book by its cover, and to help one another.
During my time in Service, I have learned so much about the military and the way it is perceived. There are people who don't think any further than the term, “Military”, and others who won’t think any further than just the names of our Branches of Service: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, & Coast Guard. For some people, that is as far as they can go or understand, but Veterans & P.O.W.’s are not just soldiers who served in a particular branch, we are all a part of an everlasting brotherhood.
We all have a unique bond and it’s one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. However, this amazing gift of family does not come without great pain and heartache; we have watched our brothers and sisters suffer and lost those dear to us. The feeling that we as Veterans share cannot be seen in a documentary, it can't be heard in a conference, or read in a book. It's an emotion that we can't title, but all know very well.
I visit the same services every year, rain or shine, at the same location. I see the same Veterans every year and it breaks my heart to see our 80+ year old, Purple Heart, P.O.W., Service Members with their breathing machines and wheelchairs, till this day, so proud of what they fought for. Regardless of their pain or disability, these men and women still stand up and salute our Flag; their resiliency is incredible. Listening to our Nation’s Anthem and honorary military songs fill us all with such intense energy that, frankly, is overwhelming.
I feel guilty when I compare all of the extra benefits and comforts today's military is provided to the struggles that Veterans from past conflicts went through in their time. Still, even though our military does a much better job of supplying soldiers with what they need, it’s still not nearly enough. The sacrifices service members make are priceless. Till this day, there are Veterans who have served and some of their military records lost, or there is no record or their service all together; leaving them forever without any benefits or any help that they so well deserve. So, for all our Veterans lost, but not forgotten, I designed this bracelet for you, in your honor.