Veteran’s Day is rapidly approaching. Students get a day off of school, banks and government buildings are closed and there will be parades and gatherings for those who set aside a day out of the year for honoring veterans and giving thanks that they are willing to make sacrifices to keep our nation strong and safe.
However, one day each year is not enough for honoring veterans. Veterans deserve to be honored and esteemed every single day. Some need care and some need benefits and every veteran has earned and needs our respect.
The few, the proud…
Each generation of Americans send fewer of their young men and women to protect this country. Less than one percent of the population can claim veteran status. In 2014, in the United States, the total number of veterans was 21.8 million (approximately ten percent of which were women) of a population that exceeds 300 million people.
During World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War a larger percentage of the population served in the military. The selective service, or draft, was discontinued in the 1970s and the American military became an all-volunteer force. Although our military no longer relies on the draft, we have been involved in more, although smaller, conflicts in the last forty years than we were prior to that.
Honoring veterans who keep us safe
These conflicts demand that our service members be better than their predecessors are. The lessons learned in the last half of the twentieth century have equipped our warriors with the drive and ability to wage war anywhere in the world. Quickly, efficiently and with an eye toward their own humanity.
The military has changed. In addition to keeping us safe, soldiers deliver food and medicine to remote villages, protect indigenous people from terrorists who would harm their own neighbors and work with local governments to help the population, not rule them. Honoring veterans who have learned that being a soldier means helping as much as hurting is our responsibility.
Doing more with less
The veterans living today have fought everywhere from the Pacific Theater of World War II to the mountains of Afghanistan. This country and its defenders have seen the military scaled back from the monstrous army and navy that existed at the end of World War II to the compact services that exist, now.
Budget cuts, unworkable technical projects and a cost-conscious population demand that our military go in harm’s way without the massive supply train of generations past. As a nation, we need to be honoring veterans who work past government short-sightedness to get the job done and get home as safe as they can.
Honoring veterans all year round
Honoring veterans doesn’t mean taking care of them. It means giving them the tools to take care of themselves. It means understanding the sacrifices they have made and giving them the help to overcome the demons they have faced. There are so few of them around, it should be easy to give them the respect that they are due.
Veteran’s Day is coming up, but honoring veterans shouldn’t need a special day.