Heroes surround us.

Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Gen. David Petraeus. I could go on and on about heroes who have been elevated by the media only to disappoint us. Bob Dylan said: “I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

A hero could be a teacher, first responder, military or veteran. They are our family, co-workers, neighbors and friends.

Since 9/11, 5.3 million men and women have served in the military. Every one of these men and women volunteered knowing the high likelihood that they would serve in combat. Of the 5.3 million who have served, more than 2.5 million have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. I contend that anyone who swore and oath to protect our great nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic is a hero.

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf said it best when he said, “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”

A military hero isn’t just the one most wounded or with the most medals. A military hero is the one who served.

Last week, I met with a young lady who had served her country with distinction. Everyone knew her because of her combat wound and story of surviving an improvised explosive device. However, when reviewing her record, I noted she hadn’t received a purple heart and that the circumstances leading to her grievous injuries were an accident, not enemy inflicted. She had been caught up in the “Wounded Warrior” buzz and couldn’t reset her story after it was spun.

Sadly, she had avoided accessing medical care for fear the truth would be revealed. As a community we need to stop categorizing our heroes and simply serve them, regardless of whether they deployed to a combat zone, and certainly regardless of whether or not they were wounded.

When I served in Iraq, I had the opportunity to work with the most elite special operations in the world. We were armed to the teeth, had access to in-depth intelligence, and traveled by helicopter when outside our operating base. Books and movies romanticize these operations; however, the men and women I served with considered the fuel truck driver one the bravest soldiers in the military. These men and women drove trucks pulling 12,000 gallons of fuel through IED infested enemy roads so the mission could continue. They and many others are the unsung heroes of military service and some of the bravest I’ve ever served.

Gen. Omar Bradley said: “Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.”

Millions of men and women have performed properly in the face of danger. Everyone who served is a hero.We don’t need to be told who heroes are. We know them. There are 66,000 who surround us here in the CSRA.

The Aiken Warrior Project supports all these heroes. We need your help to continue helping our heroes. Visit our web site www.augustawarriorproject.org and donate today.

Jim Lorraine is the Executive Director of Aiken Warrior Project and the Augusta Warrior Project. Contact him at 706-434-1708 or jlorraine.awp@gmail.com.