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May 19, 2012 | Carmen DiNino Alspach

Commentary: A Lesson in Faith from Our Nation's Defenders

It is the honor of my life to have had the opportunity to work with the young defenders of our country returning from combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. These heroic men and women have taught me the true meaning of faith.


Stepping onto one of the world’s largest military installations is a spiritual experience for me. What I see is, despite the incredible hardships our defenders have experienced both downrange and stateside, there is a strength of spirit that is inspiring. Our defenders have an upbeat, positive, optimistic attitude about life, and I didn't expect to see their smiles, helpfulness, encouragement and faith in one another.


I commented about this to my husband, who was formerly in the military, and his response was, “Well what did you expect?” I told him my expectation was that the post might be somber and serious with all that our troops have been through. My husband replied, “The service members you see have returned from combat alive…so they have a lot for which they are grateful! Given the choice to have gratitude and faith or anger and resentment, most choose the former."


I spoke to a service member who had recently returned from five combat tours and had survived direct fire, IED explosions and deaths of battle buddies. I asked how he was able to maintain his positive spirit in light of all he had been through. He reported experiencing divine guidance, strength and protection in defending this great country. In his mind, any day above ground is a good day. 


“M’ am, it is all in how you choose to look at things…we always have a choice,” he said.


Carmen DiNino Alspach is a pyschologist who has worked with veterans after returning from duty. She is also the co-author of Journey to Wholeness