It’s been more than 2 weeks since the COVID19 virus began affecting all of us in ways we will not forget. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about where we will go from here. What’s important to rebuild and what can we let go of once we get past this? It’s not something any of us, individually or collectively, have an answer to yet. But I do challenge you to think about that question.

The CBAW community is built of Service members and civilians who already saw a need for personal growth and change–at some point in each of our life’s trajectories, we came across a need to share and communicate personal experiences in a way that build understanding and community. It’s what binds us together, and it’s something that is desperately needed in this time of isolation and limited social contact.

So what do we do with our time? Stare blankly at memes? Scour the internet for clues on how to keep our families safe? Create a new structured zen lifestyle in order to cope with the added responsibility of being the resident subject matter expert on everything that scares or creates chaos in our microcosms of existence? Cycle through every emotion we have the ability to experience before breakfast?

If I said no to any of those things I’d be a hypocrite. I don’t know how exactly we’re supposed to spend these days, but I do know a few things:

1. We are not strangers to chaos stress or trauma. For most of us, as Veterans and Service members, we are already more equipped mentally to deal with what life may throw at us. You may even find yourself feeling comfortable during this time. A sense of normalcy and validation–we have been saying this world is broken and scary for a while.

2. We are all survivors and that’s not just a ribbon we put on our uniforms. If you are reading this, you have survived everything life has thrown at you so far. Do not scoff this off lightly. Its not just some empty feel good phrase I threw in there.

3. Like it or not, people will look to us for answers. Because truth #2 isn’t always easily won. On some level you are going to have that story or experience that will hold together or shape what we build as humans going forward.

4. You are not alone

5. We are not alone

6. Now is when we start the planning, asking What’s important, what do I want to get back, what makes my life beautiful? 

Keep creating, keep writing, wash your hands, and know that you are someone else’s inspiration. Because you draw breath and think thoughts and pump blood, you are part of the collective solution. You get to choose what that looks like.

Semper Fi

Joe Merritt, CBAW Co-Founder & Vice Chair, USMC Veteran