Today is Veteran’s Day. It’s a day set aside each year for the purpose of appreciating, honoring and recognizing the sacrifice and willingness to sacrifice of the soldiers who place their lives on the line to protect us all so that we may live freely in the greatest democratic republic in the history of humanity. I hope it’s also a day for you personally to be persuaded to do something in their honor.
While on active duty, soldiers give up the comforts of home (near your loved ones, familiarity, quiet, luxury items, good food, temperature control, bedding, and the freedom of movement that we all take for granted each day) to live with profound risk, loss, uncertainty and fear.
In our all-volunteer services, they answer the call of duty for many reasons, but in the end, they do what they believe is the right thing even when the right thing is hard to do. And in the moments of decision, when bravery and sacrifice must be summoned and the desire to run away squelched, they do what they do not because they want to suffer, but because they don’t want us to suffer.
Every soldier I have ever met has impressed me with his or her honor. Yet our nation has a long way to go in honoring them. Their work was serious business, and they guaranteed it with their lives. Yet many of these returning vets have trouble finding work, because employers fear they have mental problems or will be deployed again.
During the Vietnam War, a soldier typically only had to do one tour of duty. Today, soldiers are sometimes sent back for three or four tours of duty. Over 4,000 troops have now been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 30,000 have been wounded. Soldiers returning from these multiple tours of duty have suffered traumatic brain injury and carry the effects of war as post-traumatic stress disorder at unprecedented rates.
When returning veterans step off the bus, they may be greeted with waving flags and the love of their families and fellows, but they may face a new battle for medical care and benefits. There is a growing population of veterans who need help, and there is less money with which to help them. Our country now faces the harsh reality of a large number of men and women in their 20s who will require health care for the rest of their lives. The military and veteran health care systems are being pushed to the limit.
If you know someone serving in the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, the Marines or the National Guard, whether they are on active duty or standing by in the reserves to answer the call when it is given, please take a moment today to thank them for their service. If you pass someone in uniform, take a moment and shake their hand and say thank you. Let them know that you know what their wearing of that uniform means to you. And if you know the family of a soldier lost in combat, send them a card, a thought, a prayer of gratitude for their sacrifice.
If you would like to volunteer some of your time to help our returning veterans, follow this link.
My Dad is my favorite veteran. In honor of my father and all those who have worn our nation’s colors and served with dignity and honor in order to preserve our freedom, thank you from the bottom of my heart.