Every year on November 11, we celebrate our Veterans. These brave men and women certainly deserve to be celebrated each and every day, not just this one day that’s been set aside in their honor. They’ve made sacrifices you and I can only imagine. They have volunteered to put our safety above their own, time and time again; rising up during tense and terrifying moments we see only in the movies we watch in the comfort of our homes.
Veteran’s Day is particularly special in my family. I have numerous relatives who are veterans. My nephew is currently enlisted, as are many friends of the family.
My dad is my most favorite veteran, having served in the Coast Guard from December 20,1950 to January 12,1954, as a Seaman (see him in uniform below). He served mostly on a buoy tender, the Columbine. He was also stationed at the Point Arena lighthouse in California. At the end of his service, he spent time on the Taney, the last ship afloat from Pearl Harbor, which is now a museum in Baltimore Maryland. As he’s told me many times over the years, he (and he alone) protected California during the Korean War. That might be a slight exaggeration of the truth, but his service has always been a highlight of his life. To this day, he collects historical military memorabilia, watches black and white war movies, and attends all Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day services in his community. He also works as a docent at our local Veterans Memorial Museum. Service and honor are the unspoken codes that he lives by.
As we celebrate today, let us never forget those whose service has been tarnished in some way. Sadly, more and more men and women are leaving the military having suffered from PTSD. One staggering statistic I read while putting together this post, was that one in three returning troops will be diagnosed with symptoms of PTSD. Even more astounding, were these heartbreaking statistics:
On average, 5 active duty soldiers will attempt suicide each day.
20 veterans commit suicide each day.
1,100 troops have committed suicide since 2006
In 2014, there were 49,933 homeless veterans
In my opinion, we are failing our veterans in every way possible. We’ve all heard the stories on the news about veterans dying while waiting for treatment from the VA. My own father, who is 85, has just now for the very first time, been able to seek treatment from the VA. Not that he hasn’t tried before, but the loopholes and lack of facilities close to home have made it impossible for him to get his medical needs met.
So I have to ask….why are we allowing this to happen? Why, in this day and age of quick fixes and celebrities who make millions doing nothing, are we allowing our most cherished Americans to fall by the wayside? Yes, these statistics should sadden you. But they should really, really piss you off too. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! These men and women have made it possible for us to sit on our couches each night and watch TV. These men and women have sacrificed their families, their health, their futures, and even their lives, so that someone like me could sit in front of computer on a beautiful November day.
On this Veteran’s Day, I ask of you only what I ask of myself. Get out there and do something. Send a care package to troops overseas. Get involved with your local veterans community and ask what you can do. Attend community events where veterans and those who have perished are honored and celebrated.
Below are some links I found for organizations serving our veterans. I urge you to take a step outside your comfort zone and remember why you have the luxury of sleeping peacefully, safely, each and every night. Lend a hand to a soldier or their family. Have your kids make cards to mail to our soldiers. This is really a no-brainer. No one should be asked or requested to help; that should come simply because of who we’re helping. Those, who at any cost, protect our liberty. Our veterans – all our soldiers – deserve our respect, our gratitude, and our time.