Purpose Through Survival

Staff Writer Helen Phillips

January 15, 2020

For many of the veterans we serve, the conversation is about the struggle of identifying their new purpose. They were born to be warriors. They signed up to be warriors. They fought will all their might, were good at their job and could see clearly that their purpose was to protect their brothers, fight against evil and protect their homeland, families, and friends. They fought for freedom, the stars, and the stripes.

Then the day came. A day they truly never fully imagined as they were a warrior, a strong and mighty warrior, an indestructible warrior. In a blink of an eye, the world slowed to a crawl, the sound deafening in a cloud of dust and smoke, and in a calm yet intense shock, the warrior realized that he was the one injured. “How can this be? This is what I was meant to do? Now, I’m at home on my couch and can’t figure out what I am supposed to do!”

Benjamin Stepp served in the US Army Infantry and was injured in Iraq in 2003 and is a Purple Heart recipient. Benjamin is now working as a licensed professional counselor in north Mississippi. He has been fortunate to find he could serve others in a capacity outside of military service but only recently did he have the opportunity to see the story of a combat veteran and how his life spared had a different level of purpose.

During a recent hunt with the Warrior Bonfire Program, Benjamin shared his grandfather’s story of survival during WWII. He never met his grandfather as he died just weeks before Benjamin was born. He heard the stories of how his grandfather came back with darkness and faced challenges that are better understood in today’s times. His grandfather had children prior to the war and didn’t expect to have anymore, but he did. Benjamin’s father was the only other child born to the family post-WWII.

Benjamin relates well to what he thinks his grandfather endured as both came back from war with PTSD. Most likely his grandfather too, struggled with trying to discover his new purpose, just like Benjamin has experienced.

The reality that we may never know what our true purpose is but Benjamin recently experienced the revelation that someone else’s purpose may very well have been him, his existence! See, our purposes may be one single huge act or many little acts that have a multitude of impacts across the globe and for many.

Benjamin’s grandfather’s life was spared in WWII, an unexpected child was born to that man that grew to be the father of Benjamin, a soldier in Iraq that played an instrumental role in a variety of missions and is now counseling adults with disabilities and fellow veterans struggling in their path post-war. His grandfather never got to see how incredibly miraculous his post-service purpose proved to be.

Sometimes we over-analyze what we are meant to be and do. We try to label it and present it in a way society approves. If you go through life, loving and helping your loved ones, neighbors and friends, there is no doubt that your “purpose” will make a huge impact!