Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S. It’s a day after the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. I look around and see businesses offering free goods and services to military veterans. I see civilians thanking veterans for their service. I see celebrities pitching donations for the USO, Wounded Warriors, Paralyzed Veterans, and other similar organizations. I find myself wondering one thing: what happens tomorrow?
What happens tomorrow, when we all wake up and it’s no longer Veteran’s Day? What happens when the free meals and the 20% discounts go away? What are those celebrities doing when the cameras stop rolling? Because the veterans will still exist. They will still suffer from hyper-vigilance, flash-backs, anxiety, emotional distancing, and 20 of them per day will commit suicide.
Don’t stop expressing your thanks, especially if it’s genuinely heartfelt. But don’t let it stop there, and don’t let it happen only one day of the year. The government services that are supposed to take care of our veterans are letting them down. Pay and benefits get cut, food stamps are cut, money is poured endlessly into the waging of the war, but the VA isn’t anywhere near being equipped to handle the numbers of veterans who require help. Our help is needed to make things better, and it can’t happen on only one day of the year.
Volunteer if you can. The USO and Wounded Warrior could use your help. Barring that, make regular donations to a legitimate organization that is trying to pick up the slack for the VA. Don’t forget those who still serve, and send them care packages, or donate to an organization that will send them for you.
You also need to check the voting records of your government representatives. Anyone actively cutting or refusing to fund services for veterans needs to go. Especially if they voted to send the troops in the first place. Nothing will change until we change who we are sending to represent us.
Happy Veteran’s Day. Don’t forget to thank a vet.