The United States is spending this Saturday in parades, and other celebrations celebrating and remembering those who have served our country. Yet, with all our words of thanks, do are we really giving the men and women who have served or are serving in our military, and their families, what they need? How should we celebrate veteran’s day?
We Should Celebrate Our Veterans 365 Day a Year
While I agree public celebrations are in line, there are many other things we should be doing if we want to honor these brave souls. It is my belief that we should go much, much farther and that veteran’s day should be celebrated 365 days a year.
People who return from active duty to civilian life often find themselves at a loss. They have spent many years being highly disciplined and listening to orders. Now they must find their niche in a society which would rather not pay them any heed.
Our Society Would Rather Turn a Blind Eye
This ignoring of our service member’s needs is perpetuated by a culture who would rather turn a blind eye to the things our service members have had to endure in combat, and what they have seen. Atrocities and death are not uncommon experiences, and overwhelming survivor guilt along with the ravages of post-traumatic stress disorder can leave the defenders of our freedom alone and hopeless.
To make matters worse, finding help is difficult. First there is the distances many must travel to find a veteran’s administration center where they can find assistance with the destructive symptoms of the above disorders. Also, the stigma attached to getting help holds many back from reaching out and receiving the help they desperately need from mental health professionals.
A Touching and Telling Email
I received an email a few months back from a woman who had been honorably discharged from the service. She described to me her desperate need for therapy, but her intense fear of being seen less than tough, less than the soldier she had been. Her self-image was wrapped in what she had been taught by the service, and that meant she feared being a human being who needed help.
The Families of Service Members Suffer Too for Our Country
The families of service members have their own issues. Not only do they live in fear of receiving news of the death of their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and lovers, they also face other problems.
These other problems consist of multiple moves, raising children alone, and the resulting isolation from doing those things. Very often the military culture will not allow, these brave men and women to seek help. They fear their loved ones serving in the military will somehow be slighted and their names tarnished.
What of the Children?
The children of military personnel live in a world of wondering where their mommy and/or daddy are located in the world, never knowing when or if they may see them again. This uncertainly messes with their attachment to their caregivers, and can cause them to feel unsafe.
The Gold Star Families
Then there are those who have lost their relatives who have died in service to our country. They wear their gold stars proudly, but few notice. Unless they are vocal, speaking up about their grief, they remain suffering in silence. The ghosts of their loved ones, who often die a distance away, haunt their waking hours.
What Do We As A Nation Offer Our Heroes?
What are we as a nation doing to honor the people who suffer and sometimes lose their lives for us?
We have public parades, and shake their hands.
Whiles these things are wonderful, shouldn’t we be making sure that their needs are met?
The Things We Should Be Offering!
Shouldn’t we be offering, free of charge, high quality physical and mental health care?
What about jobs for them when they return to civilian life? Shouldn’t they be guaranteed a good paying position, one they can be sure to not only raise their children on, but to send them to college?
Should we not make certain that our veterans to attend, free of charge, allowing them to go as far as they wish with their education?
The Families of Service Personnel Deserve Help
The families of veterans must be helped as well, not just while they are alive, but after they have lost their lives in service to the United States.
They too should receive high quality health and emotional support. All military families (and single service people as well) should be issued a nice home mortgage free. It doesn’t have to be a mansion, but a nice home large enough to sustain a family in a nice neighborhood.
Loans and Other Platitudes are Not Enough
Veterans loans and other things we have prided ourselves on supplying are not enough. They only put these vulnerable heroes in debt.
It is my hope that on a veteran’s day in the near future, Congress will enact such sweeping laws as to offer our service people and their families all that they deserve, the very best of everything.
We Can’t Afford it? Really?
Some will argue we cannot afford to use our countries money to buy homes, good quality health and mental care, or to pay for their education.
My answer is, why not? We throw away money on expensive air planes and the accompanying costs of flying them, on our politicians. We spend huge amounts of money on pensions to government officials who are already rich. There are tons of ways this country wastes money, but spending those resources on our veterans and their families IS NOT A WASTE!
If We Want Our Good Wishes Fulfilled, We Must Do Something
We as a nation, wish the suicide rates of our former service members to disappear and we yearn to attract good quality people to serve in our armed forces, yet we ignore the silent cries for help from our military personnel and their families.
If we truly want our wishes to be fulfilled, we must get up off of our pocket books, and be generous toward who have allowed this country to survive the dangers of our divided world.
A Challenge to My Fellow Citizens
I’m asking my fellow citizens, and myself, to begin a new movement. This new wave should say loudly that we will not remain silent any longer on these issues. To celebrate the heroes that live among us, let’s celebrate them every day by making sure they have the support that they need to fulfill their American dream.
After all, we owe them our freedom, we owe them everything.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F. Kennedy