There are two things just about every house in The Heartland (Indiana) has hanging up: a basketball hoop and a flag. Raised as a good old country girl, patriotism was woven into my psyche as a child. A year and a half my elder, my sister, Rachel, was my rival and my best friend growing up. Upon our graduations from Notre Dame, I proceeded to enter the WNBA as she found her passion in life in the Army. She fell in love with the camaraderie, purpose and challenge she found there, first becoming an Arabic linguist and then proceeding on to become a Blackhawk pilot. As I was preparing for the 2006 WNBA Finals, my sister was also preparing for battle -- only the real one.
For those who have had loved ones bravely lose their lives to protect our freedom, my heart goes out to you. Thankfully, my sister was not one of them. Physically she returned a few months later to be medically discharged with severe depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), but my best friend, the sister, the daughter, the wife, and the mother are in essence still missing in action. Since then, I have watched my sister battle an opponent far greater than one that I will ever face on the court -- it is the one she faces every day in her mind.
There is a certain stigma when dealing with mental issues, as if it is a sign of weakness that should be only discussed in secret, if at all. When I was asked to write something for our upcoming Military Appreciation Night on Sept. 10th, I thought it was important for the 1 in 8 soldiers returning from service with PTSD and their families to know that we are so grateful for their sacrifices and service to our country!!
If ever there was a time when saying "thank you" just does not seem to be enough to show the level of gratitude that is trying to be conveyed, it is when it is directed toward our appreciation for the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces. San Antonio has a very large military presence, with 4 different bases in the area, so we are accustomed to seeing men and women in uniform at our games, throughout the city and in the airport. As we honor our military, I want to make sure that they understand that it is a continuous flow of appreciation, and that our gratitude extends to every branch of the military as well as their families. We recognize that their sacrifices are not an isolated instance or singularly experienced. There are spouses who are left to manage households on their own, children who have never met their fathers, and extended family members who spend countless hours worrying for loved ones. On behalf of the Silver Stars organization, we proudly salute you and are eternally grateful for your service!!!