Behind the Camo: Supporting Our Veterans Fight with Others and within Themselves


“I start hearing the sound of 50-caliber machine guns all around me, and it’s getting louder and louder, and I know that nobody else is hearing it, but I swear to f—ing God it’s real. And the voices around me grew louder and suddenly I can’t remember where I am. ”  — Frank Lesnesfsky, “Humans of New York.”

Nov. 11 was Veterans Day, and while some may just put an American flag on Instagram, here is really what Veterans Day is about. This is the reality that some veterans face, like Iraq War veteran Frank Lesnefsky. 

Veterans Day is important because it celebrates and remembers veterans who chose to fight for our country knowing they may not live. Men and women everyday make the choice to fight for the safety of our country regardless of their situation. Not only is Veterans Day important to celebrate our veterans, but it is also important to be in support of their families. Veterans who are deployed year -round or suffer from PTSD can greatly impact their family. For a parent who is deployed, a child and spouse have to deal with having a non-traditional, long-distance relationship. For a spouse or parents, fostering a new relationship between themselves and a veteran with PTSD can be a long process. A veteran can return home and feel completely different, out of their element and followed by graphic memories. 

This was the case for Pennsylvanian- turned-New Yorker, Frank Lesnefsky, who dealt with PTSD after serving in Iraq. Through CBS News and his blog post on “Humans of New York,” Lesnefsky shares his struggles and stories to help others and bring awareness. 

“And now I’ve come to a place where the human body is shredded and stomped and blown to bits. And that just wasn’t me. I used to be jokey. I used to be goofy. I was Frank from North Scranton. And now I won’t ever be that again.” 

Lesnefsky and many other veterans wait to seek help. That is why supporting non-profits who work with veterans is so important. One of the main ways to get involved would be to donate to these programs or go to events in support of veterans. The non-profit organization Headstrong, where Lesenefsky found his help, hosts events and has an active donation page. You can also create a care package through Support Our Troops. Or, like some Johnnies have done, write a letter to a veteran. Doing something as simple as writing a letter could help a veteran feel remembered and remind them why they chose to serve. 

I choose to celebrate Veterans Day to remember my grandpa and great grandpa’s sacrifices and dedication to our country. Since my grandpa and great grandpa passed on, I celebrate Veterans Day by participating in races that raise money for active and inactive veterans. 

On Sunday, Nov. 17, I will be running in the Jimmy’s Run Down Hero Highway organized by the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund. This non-profit offers financial assistance for active duty, casualty assistance, recovery and transition to Ranger Regiment veterans. 

But remember, even though Veterans Day is only one day a year, you can choose to support our Veterans every day.