Thanking our Veterans is a 365-day-a-year community obligation
“We support our troops.” You’ve heard those words and seen them on bumper stickers many times.
I have often heard them from the general public, from politicians and government officials. In some cases they are simply empty words, not necessarily because people say them idly, but because they sometimes don’t know what else to say or do.
I think we can agree that veterans served without knowing exactly what they would face from one day to another. They know they could end up making the ultimate sacrifice when they signed on the dotted line. They ask for nothing except what they have earned.
And, the fact is, most veterans are just fine and don’t need anything more from us but a reassuring word of appreciation once in a while.
However, there are some veterans who face issues no one should have to face, especially not alone.
So, for those veterans, how do we go beyond the simple words, “We support our troops?”
Homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder, long wait time to claim the benefits they have earned, delays in seeing a doctor when they need one, and unemployment are some of the issues many of them face when they come home from serving.
Through the years I have written many times about homeless veterans, two words that should never have to be mentioned together, about long wait time for benefits, about PTSD and about suicides.
In Brevard County the number of homeless veterans has been greatly reduced in recent years, thanks to veterans advocate organizations, volunteers and donors. Organizations are helping veterans with benefits claims, assisting those with PTSD and drawing awareness to the reported 22 suicides a day.
We may say it is the responsibility of government to take care of veterans. But if we wait for government, veterans would likely be worse off. They already wait too long for the benefits they’ve earned.
So here is a challenge to make the “We support our troops,” have more meaning.
Ask yourself, what am I going to do for a veteran that gave so much and made great sacrifices?
Here are some suggestions:
If you have the time — volunteer with an organization that serves veterans. There are many in Brevard.
If you have the money — donate to a local organization that helps veterans.
If you can write a letter — direct one to congress and to the VA secretary advocating for veterans.
If you are an employer — hire a veteran.
If you appreciate the service of our veterans — tell them, “Thank you for your service to our nation.”