Continuing To Serve Those Who Serve
Jim Knotts, United States Air Force Veteran, President and Chief Executive Officer of Operation Homefront.
Jim Knotts recalls watching the clock tick
20 years ago in a tent in Kuwait. It was January 15, 1991, the deadline for Iraqi forces to withdraw from Kuwait. The deadline came and went, and a still defiant Iraqi government refused to comply with the demands of the United Nations.
Any minute, the call to arms would come.
Jim remembers the tension in the hours and days that followed the missed deadline. “I was in a tent with our location’s base commander…. The call came early in the morning on January 17th. Everyone else was awake, knowing what the call meant, even though we didn’t hear the conversation. It was a surreal moment, knowing that at that point I was a real combatant “.
A US educated Kuwaiti citizen volunteered to be their unit translator. “He wore the Kuwaiti flag pinned to his shirt – right next to an American flag. In his somewhat broken English, he talked about how thankful he was to America for helping to free his country, for giving him an opportunity to be a part of the liberation effort. For him, he was fighting for his home, for his very way of life. It made me proud when he reminded me that our country stands for freedom, and we’re willing to put our lives on the line to help protect the freedoms of those who can’t always protect themselves.”
That pride and fierce love of home, family and freedom was also evident in towns across America. Reflecting on a Veterans Day parade in Huntsville, AL many years after his service was done, “(The parade) was a real slice of Americana…with Girl Scout Troops, marching bands, the local Ladies Auxiliary, High School JROTC units, VFW Posts, and vintage fire truck. The pride in the community, the overwhelming appreciation for our veterans and the sacrifices they had made – it was evident on every face.”
Our military members and all of the veterans before them have chosen to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Jim advises, “That commitment to serve the greater good doesn’t end when you take off the uniform. The leadership you exhibit by answering the call of duty and raising your right hand… that is the same leadership that your communities need every day.”
“ There are millions of ways to continue serving as a volunteer, as a community organizer, working with a favored nonprofit, or becoming involved with a local church”, he continues. “You helped insure this country’s freedoms. You’re short-changing yourself if you don’t enjoy those freedoms by continuing to serve in other ways within your community”
Answer Jim’s ‘Call to Action” by volunteering with your local Operation Homefront chapter or helping us meet one of our families’ urgent needs. You can also find additional way to serve your community through United We Serve, Joining Forces, and Hands On Network.