This post is sponsored by Disabled American Veterans (DAV). All opinions are the author’s. 

By Babette Maxwell

Colonel Thomas Dewitt Gaither, referred to by those who loved him most as “The Colonel”, was easily the most influential man in my life. Dad, a fiercely Southern man, grew up in a small town in Tennessee and made his way through college on a National Defense Loan to get his shot at being a soldier. Commissioned as a Field Artillery officer, he wore the Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Wings, and the Air Assault Badge. He served two combat tours in Vietnam, one in command of an artillery battery. A soldier’s soldier until the very end of his life, Dad didn’t just bleed Field Artillery red…he bled red, white, and blue.

The Colonel was a colorful, full-of-life, magnetic man who left both the Army and the community a better place than he found them. It was often said that if you wanted to find Colonel Tom Gaither, you should look for him up stream. He saw the world very black and white, and yet he lived every day full of color.

The Colonel was a straight arrow. He didn’t sugarcoat anything and he told you the truth every time, whether you wanted to hear it or not. He was famous for lifting his left eyebrow with a sarcastic grin on his face as his answer to almost any question, implying you already knew the answer before you asked him. His affinity for helping others and strangers he’d meet is legendary.

The Colonel, a man of strong conviction, was committed to tradition and custom. Gig lines, shined shoes, good manners, and a proper hand salute were a matter of habit. And required. So there is no doubt that Saint Peter is getting an earful on gate protocol at the Front Gates of Heaven as we speak. Rest assured, those of us who follow The Colonel will get a proper hand salute as we greet our own final duty station. As they say, Rangers Lead the Way!

To honor his life and the sacrifices Dad made, I created a tribute video in his memory for this Veterans Day.

This Veterans Day, say thank you to the veterans in your life by creating  a video with the Disabled American Veterans Thank A Vet video tool. The DAV honors veterans and their families across the United States by providing support, services, and awareness. Take a moment to honor a veteran in your life here.

Babette Maxwell is the newly named Senior Director of Partnerships for the leading military brand, MilitaryOneClick.  In this role Maxwell oversees partnerships and strategies for the brand as well as the ever-popular event series, MilSpouseFEST.  Leveraging her distinctive skill set and one-of-a-kind background, Maxwell additionally acts as a senior advisor to corporations and organizations seeking military spouse business strategies, human resource direction, and unique approaches for development and growing initiatives.