3 Ways to Honor Our Veterans
November 11, 2019
Today is Veteran's Day. I can't help but think about my family and the sacrifices my father and my uncle made. They both served during WWII. My uncle in the 10th Mountain Division, spending much of his time in the Italian Alps, and my father as a Sergeant in the 390th Bomb Group. He was the tail gunner in a B-17 and was shot down over Germany, finally ending up in the underground.
While they served in the same war, they had wildly different experiences and had different views on whether and how they should be honored. Thus, over the past week, I have asked myself how do we best honor our Veterans?
I have thanked soldiers and Veterans for their service, bought them snack food in airports, smiled as they have walked by, felt solemn at an array of flags, and attended Veteran's events. And I know there is no perfect way and each veteran may wish to be honored differently, and for some it may even mean not being honored. So, as opposed to honoring these women and men the way I think they should be honored, I decided to ask a few Veterans about Veteran's Day and how they would like to be honored. They told me there are three ways:
Shake Hands and Walk Away
As civilians we can never fully understand the sacrifices these women and men make and have made on our behalf, but a handshake speaks volumes.
Advocate for Veteran's Services
Many of our vets return home in need services ranging from assistance with re-entry, medical, mental health, education, and financial. Another way to honor our veterans is to advocate for these services to ensure they are available to these women and men upon their return. Mental health is perhaps the biggest of these - according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 veterans die by suicide every single day.
Write a Letter of Gratitude
For our veterans who are currently serving, consider writing them a letter. It is common to think about our veterans during the holidays and send care packages, but what about the other 11 months of the year. Sending soldiers letters of support throughout the year can have a big impact on them, especially those with little or no family. Knowing there are people who support them, can get them through the difficult days during their time of service.
I hope you will honor our Veterans today, but I also hope that you will honor them tomorrow as well, and next week, and next month, and next Spring. Honoring those who make such great sacrifices for us should be something we do every day.
Here is a list of resources to help you honor our Veterans:
Support Our Troops
National Veterans Foundation
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies