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Honoring Veterans Day

One hundred and five years ago, on November 11, 1918, the guns of the world fell silent. An armistice was signed, and the Great War was over. Unfortunately, World War I was not the “war to end all wars,” as many had hoped. Following WWI, the United States commemorated November 11th as Armistice Day. The date was significant since WWI fighting ended on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour, 11th month, 11th day). However, in 1947, a WWII veteran from Birmingham, Alabama, was the driving force in his community to organize this country’s first Veterans Day celebration. Raymond Weeks believed that all veterans should be recognized – not only those who perished, as was the case for Memorial Day. The idea took root, and eventually, in 1954, Congress passed a bill designing November 11th as Veterans Day.

This Veterans Day marks the 76th anniversary of that first celebration. The service of America’s veterans never truly ends. Even when they hang up their military uniforms for the last time, many still choose to protect us.

The U.S. Justice Department estimates that 25 percent of law enforcement officers have a military background. Bravery and dedication to the community are common among veterans.

Veteran’s Day is a day to honor all the men and women who served in the U.S. military. It is about the approximately 19 million U.S. veterans who are still with us today and the millions who have preceded them since the American Revolution. Today, over 42% of veterans are aged 65-74 years old. 40% of veterans were never in a Combat area. Of the remaining 60%, only 10-20% were in actual combat situations. Combat veterans are 1% of the military and of the veteran population. Today’s active duty is only 1% of the US population. Vietnam veterans are fading away at nearly 400 each day. While 58 thousand died in Vietnam, over 300 thousand have died from Agent orange related diseases. While veterans make up only 7% of the US population, many serve their communities as first responders, teachers, health care workers, or church leaders. Some are business owners, farmers, company workers or retirees.

Veterans are a diverse group represented by men and women of every economic, ethnic, and religious background. They come from every state and territory but are bound by one common commitment – to defend America with their life if called upon. From fighting terrorism, defeating fascism, and liberating slaves, veterans have a record of remarkable accomplishment throughout our nation’s history.

Military service is not for the faint of heart. Transitional challenges, the stress of military life, and feelings of isolation all factor into a suicide rate among veterans that is more than 50 percent higher than that of nonveteran adults.

The stigma of seeking help needs to end. If we are going to stop veteran suicide, it is crucial that we look at this issue much differently than prior generations. If we wait for someone to make an attempt before we reach out, there is a very good chance that it will be too late.

Veterans value courage, and it takes courage to ask for help. We must be proactive. Ask and encourage veterans to seek help before they pass a point of no return. The bonds that we formed in the military are unlike any other. Very few of us are trained, counselors or mental health professionals. But we are capable of listening, referring, and following up.

Homelessness is another tragic outcome that is too often connected to military service. It is estimated that America has 60,000 veterans who are homeless. That is greater than the entire population of Carson City, Nevada. Though veterans comprise approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population, they are 11 percent of our nation’s homeless.

The best way to prevent a veteran from becoming homeless is to hire one. It’s not only good policy, but it’s smart business for an employer who values skill, discipline, and patriotism.

For many of them, this nation was worth enduring long separations from their families, missing the births of their children, freezing in sub-zero temperatures, sweating in the Sahara, sacrificing their health, and, far too often, losing their lives. When a politician laments the cost of a veteran’s program, it is up to us to remind them of the cost of being a veteran.

Whether it’s exposure to burn pits or other toxins, many veterans today continue to pay a high price for their military service. It is up to us to ensure that they always have access to high-quality health care and benefits reflecting the thanks of a great nation.

Veterans are not only responsible for defending this nation during times of war, but it is the imposing presence of our great military that has acted as a deterrent to would-be aggressors. The veterans of the United States military have not only fought wars, but they also deserve our gratitude for preventing them.

Eternal God, give to us, your people, grateful hearts, and a united will to honor these men and women and hold them always in our love and our prayers; until your world is perfected in peace. Amen

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Category: #Military

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