More than just a “Thank You”

I’m a non-combat Veteran, having served for 6 years on active duty with the United States Navy during the height of the Cold War in the 1980’s. If you note the timeframe, you may also recall that just prior to my service, members of the Armed Services weren’t all that celebrated in the late 1970’s in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War.

While I always appreciate the freedom of speech that we hold so dear in this country, taking out one’s frustrations on a group of people who had nothing to do with the policies, and little choice whether or not they participated (recall there was a draft) is poor practice on many levels. For this reason and others I am especially heartened to see such a groundswell of goodwill toward Veterans and servicemembers in recent years.

On this Veteran’s Day I would like to highlight 3 ways that citizens can take that goodwill a step further and really make a difference in the life of a Veteran. Before I list my 3 main suggestions, I want to point out that the most significant sacrifices by Veterans and their families are made by what we know as Gold Star families, and by those men and women who return home, changed in ways we may never fully comprehend: our Wounded Warriors. Reaching out to a family who has lost someone in a war or is coping with a severely injured son, daughter or spouse is at the top of my list for observing Veteran’s Day. If you don’t know anyone, contact your local VA or Veterans organizations and ask how you can be of service to these heroes and their families.

Otherwise, here is my advice for truly thanking the many Veterans in our communities today for the service and sacrifices that they have made.

1. Stop voting on single issues and really look at the policies the politicians you vote for have supported. Do these policies and politicians truly support Veterans and their families?

2. Give some food or donate money to a food bank. Many, many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marine Veterans live at or below the poverty level and struggle to feed and clothe their families. This is compounded when they have left active military service with non-transferable skills, and multiplied exponentially if they carry home scars whether they be physical, mental or emotional.

3. Go volunteer at the VA. They do more than provide healthcare for veterans. They serve the homeless Veteran population, care for elderly and indigent Vets, provide drug & alcohol rehab, help veterans find jobs when they return home and much, much more. Don’t believe everything you hear on the news either. For every negative story, there are thousands of dedicated, caring people at VA facilities across this nation giving their best to our nation’s Veterans every day.

So on this 2015 Veteran’s Day, if you want to “thank a Veteran“,…I’m suggesting that actions speak much louder than words.

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(( originally posted on the author’s LinkedIn page ))

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