Friday night I had the privilege of attending the annual KPTS Veterans Coming Home Salute and Awards Banquet. Some friends who have a non-profit dedicated to helping Veterans asked if my husband and I would attend. We said yes.
I found out I knew several people there and even knew on of the honorees who is a good friend. You can find the pictures of the honorees and banquet here. The banquet was well done, the key note address powerful and the stories of the veterans that were honored were powerful and moving. Every one of those veterans were doing good work, and many of them, hard work.
I am not a veteran, but I come from a family that has had veterans in every generation. Part of the story I heard again and again is of the forgotten veterans, the ones on the street, the ones in the throes of addiction or mental illness. The most recent statistics is that 20 veterans a day commit suicide. Twenty a day.
In some ways this does not surprise me. Current warfare is so awful, so violent and the rules of engagement always changing. Health care for the average American is difficult enough, for a veteran there is more red tape and often long waiting lists.
Those who choose military service often face situations I can not even imagine. If they are members of a “minority” group it can be worse: women, ethnic minorities, lgbtq persons have even tougher roads. Yet, everyone of them chose to serve a great cause.
My brother in his blog wrote this about being a veteran and how to best honor them:
Gratitude is best when coupled with action. On this Veteran’s Day don’t stop at thanking a Veteran for their service. Turn that sentiment into tangible activity. Patronize and support a veteran owned, led or managed business (Google is very good at identifying these businesses). Take a few minutes to write to your congressman and senator about your support of Veteran benefits and services.
Finally, if you have a Veteran in your life, whether teacher, family member, loved one or friend, reach out to them. When genuine gratitude comes from someone close it is a sentiment that will touch that Veteran profoundly.
So, I would echo his words. Honor a Veteran, honor a veteran’s service AND their business. Give to the non-profits that support veterans. Volunteer and get to know a veteran. Thankfulness is seen in action as well as heard in words.