As a nation, the United States has fought two wars in the last 10 years, and thousands of the brave men and women in our armed forces have lost their lives.
Yet there are those, too, who made it home, but for whom the battle continues in many ways.
And for one grandmother from a city west of Boston, even though her son is alive, the toll has been especially high.
In a letter to Globe Santa, she wrote that she and her husband are raising their granddaughter, who will be 9 years old this month, as they try to help their son, who returned from Iraq some seven years ago and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The young man endured a painful combat experience and came back safely, but has not recovered from the trauma well enough to care for his daughter on his own.
“My son had to tag and bag the bodies of four fallen soldiers and write up an identifying description of each body and send it to the Department of Defense,” she wrote in the letter to Globe Santa.
Her husband, the little girl’s grandfather, is also in military service and returned from deployment in Afghanistan in February.
He has been unable to find steady work, and the couple are struggling to keep up with expenses while supporting their daughter, as well as their granddaughter.
Despite all the little girl has gone through, she is as excited about Christmas as most any child her age, and the family does not want to let her down, her grandmother wrote.
“She still believes in Santa, and I want to keep it that way,” she wrote. “If there is any possible way you could help us, I would greatly appreciate it.”
Meanwhile, the wife of another veteran wrote to Globe Santa to ask that he add the couple’s three children — their 10-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, and baby girl — to his list this year.
Her husband was honorably discharged from the Army in 2009, she said in her letter, but he has struggled to fully recover from a traumatic event in 2007.
“Most of my husband’s war scars are unseen and most often unheard, making it difficult for me to explain to our children that ‘Daddy is sick,’ ” she wrote. “Our three children have a loving father, committed to his family and to his country . . . but only time will heal him.”
She describes their family as “loving, hard-working, and appreciative” and added that she and her husband are proud of how their eldest daughter embraces the values they have tried to pass along, that service to others is an essential part of a fulfilling life.
“Every year our oldest daughter volunteers at a local organization to provide a little love to families in need. . . . She does not realize we are in need,” her letter concluded. “Thank you for your kind, warm heart during the holiday season.”
These two families will join some 30,000 others receiving a visit from Globe Santa this year, thanks entirely to the generosity of individuals, groups, and local businesses that donate to the fund drive, many of whom make giving to Globe Santa a part of their holiday tradition.