Duty and Honor

On a full flight from Atlanta to Chicago I noticed a soldier was sitting behind me.  As is my custom I thanked him for his service to which he sheepishly responded “thank you”.  A few minutes before take off the flight attendant approached the soldier to notify him that a man in first class wanted to give him his seat.  Those of us around him encouraged him to take the offer and it was heartwarming to watch him take the long walk from the back of the plane to his place up front.

Conversely, I also noticed a middle-aged woman who had gotten on the plane with her elderly mother.  Other passengers plane most likely didn’t notice her unless they were “stuck” behind her as she tried to see to both her and her mothers’ bags as well as assist in securing both of them in their seats.  Even if people did notice her, most passengers in first class are not going to give up their seat for her and, even if they did she have probably given it to her mother before taking it herself.

Much like those who enlist in the military, there is a sense of honor and duty for those who “sign up” to care for an elderly family member.  Caring for an elderly parent is not an easy job and, though obviously the daily perils of being in the military far exceed those of a family caregiver who is physically caring for their parent, there are some paradigms.

Points to Ponder:

Both the military and caregiving:

  • Entail a high level of physical and emotional output
  • Involve a sense of honor (a higher calling)
  • Require a sense of duty
  • Put someone or something else’s needs in front of their own
  • Necessitate the ability to be flexible yet focused on getting things done
  • Can have detrimental affect on ones physical health if they don’t take proper care of themselves
  • Involve the need to keep moving even when you want to stop and rest
  • Are thankless jobs

If you have never been a family caregiver, you may think I have completely lost my mind comparing military personnel to family caregivers.  However; if you are or have ever been a family caregiver in the trenches caring for someone you love as I have, I’m sure you can relate to this correlation.

Action items:

  • If you see someone from the military whether in an airport, restaurant or on the street please take a moment to shake their hand and thank them for their service. 
  • If you know someone who is caring for a family member take time to thank them for all they do every day to help that other person.
“Honor is the reward to those who answer the call to serve.”- Michael Nichols

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
This entry was posted in aging, caregiving, eldercare, encouragement, taking care of yourself, work/life/flex, working caregiver and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Duty and Honor

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  4. Olga Brunner says:

    Sue, that was an amazing piece and thank you for the comparisons between a military person and a family caregiver. That was so dead on. I entered my line of work after having cared for a parent with Alzheimer’s and I will always honor those who choose this path. It is selfless and can burn you out if not careful. Thanks again for your post.


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