Who comes to mind when you hear the word “veteran”? Perhaps you picture an elderly man wearing a hat with a military insignia. Or a middle-aged citizen with Semper Fi on his license plate.
The word “veteran,” however, encompasses so much more.
Veterans are men and women who have served in the United States military. Those who have put others’ needs above their own … who have served selflessly for their country … who have been willing to die for our freedom, rights, and safety.
An unknown author described them this way:
“A veteran – whether active duty, retired, National Guard or Reserve – is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount ‘up to and including his or her life.’”
What kind of person signs a check like this? What kind of spouse supports their husband or wife to make such a pledge?
I love my country. I know you do, too. Those who sign up to defend this country we love deserve our gratitude, respect, and prayers.
We see veterans as we go about our day. Since they’re most likely not wearing their uniform, we may not realize who it is that is sitting next to us in the movie theater, standing in the grocery line in front of us – or lying on the city sidewalk with no place to call home.
Sadly, our culture can make our veterans feel their time was wasted and that we don’t appreciate them. Many end up isolated and alone, feeling they have no one to turn to. I especially worry about the lack of mental health services. Too many VA clinics are not properly staffed or equipped to meet these needs.
This is heartbreaking on every level.
Major General James E. Donald, U.S. Army (Retired), expressed his desire to see benefits for our veterans extended when he spoke at a St. George Island 2017 Veteran’s Day ceremony:
“As our country debates the economic crisis we face and looks to where we must make cuts in spending, I urge all of us to remember that veterans’ retirement and medical benefits are not gifts. They have been earned through their blood, sweat, repeated deployments, and sometimes, loss of limbs or life.
“Certainly, the richest country on earth can afford to continue its benefits for the few – less than one percent of the population – who defended it with a lifetime of service.”
If each of us lives to be 1,000, we’ll never be able to pay back what these men and women (and their families) have given to us. Let’s get busy with the few years we do have and thank them every chance we get.
What do you think?
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