General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led our forces in Operation Desert Storm, once said, “It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” To me, the brave men and women who fight to protect our freedom are the heroes.
It's also important to recognize the sacrifice made by the families they leave behind. These families wait and hope for husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons. It takes courage to watch a loved one go off to war. There is pride that they go in defense of our nation; but that does not diminish the worry or fear.
I recently visited the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, where I was honored to meet some of our courageous veterans. The WFSC serves wounded veterans and their families and is located by Brooke Army Medical Center, one of the world's best trauma centers. The patients treated there have sustained devastating injuries, and most will remain in the hospital for months; some will be there over a year.
This, of course, is difficult for both the soldiers and their families. Recuperation requires healing from more than just physical wounds. The WFSC is a place where patients can keep company with their military family and people on the same long road to recovery. It is a place where they can rehabilitate as individuals, couples or families — whatever they need. It is a place that knows that the casualties of war are not always counted in bones and limbs. It is a place that heals the whole soldier.
The WFSC creates a home away from home. There is a big, open kitchen, where volunteers prepare home-cooked meals. There is a classroom where soldiers can take lessons, such as computer training or courses to earn degree credits as they acquire the skills they need to re-enter the workforce. There is a big living area, where families and patients can mix and mingle, and a private counseling room. And there is a play area outdoors, a butterfly garden and a game room where children can spend a few hours just being themselves.
The WFSC is a showcase of the genuine community spirit we have in Texas. It depends completely on private donations, yet the center has continued to expand, even in a time of economic uncertainty. There are a few paid staff, but 143 volunteers keep it open 13 hours every day.
On this July Fourth week, between the barbecues and the fireworks, I hope all Americans have honored America's founders, the brilliance and bravery that created this great country, the men and women who fight to preserve its freedoms and the military families who support them.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. senator from Texas.