Today is Veterans Day. Many Americans won’t give it a second thought. With today’s loss of patriotism and even outright anti-American sentiment, I hope you take the time to appreciate our veterans. I believe you will, for I know most of you love America and those who have served us in the military.
Today’s post is written by our friend and veteran, Major (Ret.) William Ostan. Some of you will recall that Will is the person who introduced me to the Appeal To Heaven flag. I wear this shirt in his honor today. He shares a very poignant post, demonstrating exceptional vulnerability. Please excuse me if I have to pause while reading it; it will not be easy at times.
The Sentinels of Liberty
by Major (Ret.) Will Ostan
I love everything about celebrating Veterans Day. The red, white, and blue American flags proudly displayed by patriotic families on their homes, lawns, and vehicles are always an inspiration. I’m filled with joy when attending small-town parades replete with colorful bunting, local high school marching bands, and children excitedly waving miniature versions of Old Glory. I am grateful that our citizens, young and old, honor all veterans, including those of foreign wars going all the way back to World War II.
When I attend these community gatherings and look into the eyes of the brave men and women who have walked the ancient paths, some of them through the gates of hell in combat, I hear the faint whispers of duty calling out. It is in these sacred moments that I realize these veterans have paid a price to serve as our sentinels of liberty.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines sentinel as, “In military affairs, a soldier set to watch or guard an army, camp or other place from surprise, to observe the approach of danger and give notice to it.”(1)
From the colonial patriot Minutemen, who courageously stood their ground on April 19th, 1775, when the British redcoats fired the shot heard around the world(2), to modern-day Special Operations Forces operating in the shadows to rescue hostages in the Middle East, the United States of America has been blessed with some of the bravest warfighters in the history of humanity. Millions of veterans spanning almost 250 years have resolutely guarded the homeland from the enemies of liberty, usually foreign and sometimes domestic. These Sentinels of Liberty have faithfully “observe[d] the approach” and “give[n] notice to it” whenever a totalitarian spirit has encroached on our God-given freedoms.
On this Veterans Day, as we highlight those who have honorably served in every branch of our Armed Forces, I want to be more vulnerable than ever before in order to reveal the cost of being a Sentinel. I will then issue an encouraging and hope-filled call to action for all civilians who’ve never served in the military.
One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was to commission as an officer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, after graduating from Pepperdine Law School. During a 12-year active-duty career, I had the distinct privilege to serve with elite warfighting units. This includes the legendary 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) in Baghdad, Iraq, as well as the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and Navy SEAL Team 5 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
While on the combat deployment in Afghanistan, which spanned several months (2012 - 2013), I was exposed to what my team of doctors identified as “environmental toxins.” This triggered a rare and severely debilitating auto-immune disorder called Behcet’s Disease.
I knew upon returning home that I was physically not the man that I used to be.
I began to experience unexplained weight gain, extreme fatigue, fast-growing cysts protruding from my rib cage and scalp, severe joint pain, debilitating migraines, and overwhelming brain fog. From 2016 to 2018, I had four sudden breakouts of excruciatingly painful leprous-like open sores that presented on my eyes, mouth, and the most sensitive parts of my body. These “flare-ups” lasted for weeks at a time. I’ll never forget urinating blood and spitting out chunks of skin from the roof of my mouth where the lesions had taken over. It was an intense progression of symptoms!
In 2018, I was prescribed the wrong medication, which acted as an “accelerant” for Behcet’s Disease. My body began to shut down - I was bedridden for more than six weeks and subsequently diagnosed with POTS, a neurological disorder with no known cure. Since then, I have been periodically bedridden for weeks or even months at a time with no relief, despite having access to all the best medical care.
I love my wife and twin teenage daughters so much. I take great pride in being a family man. Tragically, I am missing from countless pictures marking special occasions over the last decade. I’m often bedridden as those whom I love dearly celebrate Christmas, birthdays, and go on vacations without me present. A joint decision to not let this illness steal more than it already has.
This is the cost of being a Sentinel of Liberty.
Mercifully, I have never had suicidal ideations, but I have, in the dark nights of the soul, prayed, “Jesus, please take me to heaven while I sleep so Jen can re-marry a healthy husband, and my girls can have a healthy father.”
The “collateral damage” of stress on my family, caused by my chronic illnesses, is the hardest part of this fight.
Sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of heartbreaking stories similar to mine in the Veteran community that has been at war since 9-11-2001. Some of my brothers and sisters have lost limbs or eyes, while others suffer from “invisible” illnesses like Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). A veteran may “look” perfectly healthy on the outside, but they often describe their own symptoms as a feeling of “rotting” on the inside.
So where is hope to be found in this storyline?
My fellow Americans, it is found in you taking action to fight for those who have fought for you. There is more, much more, to be done than simply saying, “Thanks for your service,” as meaningful as that is to hear.
Our family has been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by great Americans like Papa Dutch and Mama Ceci Sheets, in addition to other generous Americans who follow Give Him 15. Civilians like you have allowed my family to live in their homes for months at a time when we were financially destitute after being medically separated from the Army. Others have sent us money for groceries or regularly do all kinds of service projects, including mowing our lawn for free. I cannot overemphasize what a positive impact this has on the daily well-being of my family. This outpouring of kindness is a healing balm to a warrior’s heart.
There are veterans in need across America, and there are many ways to practically love them. You can start small by inviting them to a meal. Be observant and sensitive. Listen to them. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how you can connect. Sometimes veterans can be reticent to ask for help when they need it most, but I speak from personal experience when I say we need you.
Make no mistake, those of us broken by the trials of war desperately need you. I fervently pray and earnestly hope that you answer this call to action by lovingly “adopting a veteran.”
Because we are living in one of the most perilous times Western Civilization has faced since World War II,(3) I firmly believe that now is a kairos moment. A time when God wants to unify the veteran population with civilian patriots so that we can stand together as Sentinels of Liberty to fulfill our duty in once more making an Appeal to Heaven.
Pray with me:
Father, we thank You for the courageous men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. We acknowledge that America is still the land of the free because of our brave veterans. We thank You for the families of our veterans, who selflessly serve at home while their loved ones are in harm’s way. As the Bible instructs us, we give honor to those whom honor is due. We esteem their service and sacrifice on this Veterans Day.
We ask You to send a great spiritual awakening to veterans and their families. Bring Your restorative touch to bodies, minds, and spirits. Release Your miraculous power to heal what medical experts say will never be healed. We know that truly nothing is impossible for You!
Father, we ask You to initiate a movement where civilians and veterans come together to advance Your Kingdom’s mission. We seek Your face to impart wisdom for creative ways for veterans’ skill sets to be incorporated into their communities. May the warrior ethos that is instilled in veterans be taught and transferred to the civilian population as we come together in this kairos time.
Holy Spirit, give each one of us an opportunity to support the veterans in our lives - let our acts of service be a healing balm to their hearts.
In the matchless name of Jesus, Amen.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
William J. Ostan is a medically retired Army Major and the recipient of two Bronze Stars. He is the Founder and President of Arc of Justice, a nonprofit organization that advocates for active-duty wounded warriors. Will is the author of The Patriot’s Field Manual, which became a #1 bestseller in multiple Amazon categories. Please visit WillOstan.com to purchase the book and ArcOfJusticeUSA.org to find out more about the Wounded Warrior Bill of Rights.
Webster, Noah. Noah Webster's First Edition of an American Dictionary of the English Language. Foundation for American Christian Education,1828 edition, reprinted 1989.
“Portrait of John Parker.” American Battlefield Trust, https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/john-parker. Accessed 7 November 2023.
**Captain Jonas Parker, the minutemen’s commander, famously told them, “Stand your ground, don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” This is one of the first instances of American Rules of Engagement being issued by a military commander to his troops.
Chesterton, G. K. The Everlasting Man. Numen Books, 2012.
**G.K. Chesterton, the brilliant philosopher, Christian apologist, and literary master, wrote the following in The Everlasting Man, which is very applicable to our current cultural moment, “If there is one fact we really can prove from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty, and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.”