A Grateful Nation
“Memorial Day honors service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military—in wartime or peacetime.” —From military.com
Why do I want you to know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Because it’s important that when sharing our gratitude, it’s with the right people at the right time. I honor loved ones on both days.
Six-and-a-half years ago, the call came in that changed my life forever. It changed who I was, how I worshiped, and how I viewed life in general. It could have made me bitter and angry because I was forced to live this life without the man I loved, married, and started a family with—but instead, it gave me a different purpose. My husband, SSG Michael Harrison Simpson, passed away on May 1, 2013, from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Eastern Afghanistan while serving with 1st Special Forces Group. Since then, I have worked to honor him and live a life worthy of his final sacrifice.
Today I am married to MSG Gus Anderson, active duty Green Beret. I would not be where I am today without his love and support. This man loves me, loves our boys, and never makes me choose between loving him and Mike, since Mike’s life and death made me who Gus loves today. He is a true angel sent from God.
Gus has served over 20 years, which includes training in 9 foreign countries and 11 combat deployments. I see it in his eyes, in every veteran’s eyes: Service weighs heavy. It is a burden they carry for us all.
If I told you this journey has been easy, I wouldn’t be truthful, but I couldn’t be more grateful for those that have walked with me: family, friends (military and civilian), and multiple organizations who inspired our organization, The Unquiet Professional. Our mission is to provide Gold Star and surviving families, veterans, and their families with healthy and empowering ways to heal from the wounds brought on by war.
We have had so many wonderful opportunities to serve our veterans and surviving families. I pray I can always instill selfless service as a lifetime vocation in our boys. My husband, Gus, does such a wonderful job teaching them the importance of serving others every day.
In 2018 I was awarded the Armed Forces Insurance Army and Overall Military Spouse of the Year due to my work. My response always begins with, “Don’t they know this work is what helped heal me?” I have had the incredible honor to work with families all over the nation who have lived, lost, grieved, and healed—who struggle with the realities of war each and every day. Some succumb to those struggles, and I pray for those men, women, and families incessantly.
I have been humbled to serve as the Green Beret Foundation’s Gold Star and Surviving Family liaison and received their Keeper of the Brave recognition. There are no words that can adequately describe the blessings the Green Beret Foundation and Special Forces community have bestowed upon my heart and soul. As a Steel Mag member (a sisterhood comprising wives, mothers, and sisters of Green Berets), I have had the distinct opportunity to serve among some of the strongest women I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
For the past year, I have served as the Military Spouse Ambassador for Army Emergency Relief. I have loved the opportunity to educate Army spouses on the resources available to them. AER provides 0% loans, grants, and scholarships. Most recently, one of their categories assists Army spouses with relicensing and re-certifications due to a military move. AER is not just for emergencies.
There are so many military spouses working to change the narrative around what it means to serve and sacrifice. Jessica, Maria, and Samantha founded #GivingTuesdayMilitary with a goal of spreading kindness. The goal is 1 Million Acts of Kindness on December 3, 2019! Brittany Boccher of Discovering Your Spark teaches how we can obtain our passion and purpose in our ever-changing military lives. I am also excited to be a member of MilSpo Co, a group dedicated to sharing our military stories, founded by Megan Brown.
When testimonies are shared, we can paint a better picture of military life that will allow us to bridge the gap between our military and civilian communities. I pray that in becoming a Truthteller, I can connect our communities and build greater awareness.
A life of military service can mean you come out the other side a wounded individual: visible or invisible. I have a dear friend who believes God couldn’t ever forgive what they have done, what they haven’t done, things they have seen, and things they couldn’t stop from happening. I am here to tell you that God forgave those sins when his son died on the cross, before you ever made them. No matter your religion, no matter who your god is, or if you even believe in a higher power, you are not meant to carry those burdens. You were meant to LIVE.
“Freedom is not Free” is a slogan used so often that I feel it has lost its power. The price is paid by the lives of every single man, woman, and child who has ever carried the burdens of war. It’s gut-wrenching pain coupled with immense pride. Pride in serving something bigger than ourselves and gratitude to have the opportunity to do so.
On Veterans Day, please share your kindness. Let us live out what it means to be a grateful nation. Our brave men and women who have served in wartime or in peacetime couldn’t be more proud to serve. Let them share their stories. Let them be a Truthteller.
God Bless You.
God Bless our veterans.
God Bless America.