Mayor reflects on a veteran’s homecoming

Published 5:49 pm Thursday, December 11, 2008

Allan Lowe, recently elected to a third term as mayor of Columbiana, served in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991 and in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

He retired in 2006 as a major in the U.S. Army after 20 years and six months of service. At a recent meeting of the David Lindsay Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Lowe spoke on the challenges combat veterans face as they return from the ongoing war on terrorism. He spoke from his own experience as a combat veteran.

“Since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, our nation has seen more than 4,207 service members give their lives in Iraq. Another 627 have returned home in flagged draped coffins from Afghanistan. That’s a total of 4,834 casualties so far. As a comparison, Columbiana, as of a 2006 population count … had 3,796 residents. Over 110,000 service members have returned home after wounds received during their tours of duties in this conflict. Regardless of opinions of the war, thousands of lives have been irrevocably changed.”

Mayor Lowe spoke with passion on his experiences as a combat veteran, his close calls with death, and witnessing those service members who were wounded and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. One of his most compelling comments was of war itself.

War today, he said, has become too easy to wage because it can be done with such precision that others close by do not ever feel the effects of it. Here at home, we do not feel any different because our men and women are fighting overseas.

He mentioned the effects of combat on veterans including tragic physical wounds. But there are also emotional and mental combat wounds. He said the Department of Defense is becoming more aware of the need of psychological help for our service members in the war.

“If a service member has a respect for the sanctity of life, then a war, and all the horrors that a war creates, will affect that person,” Lowe said. “What’s more, there is nothing that a parent, spouse, child or anyone else can do to help that person except two things … Don’t push them to talk, and more importantly, pray for them. Pray with them. Often.”

He closed by saying that his experiences have affected him much more in a positive than negative way. He appreciates and loves his family, his home, his community, and his nation more than ever. He said he values the source of his strength and his protector through those dangerous years — God.