Math for Veterans Day: .5%

That really should say < .5%   What’s that mean?  Less than one-half of one percent.

That’s the percentage of the U.S. population who make up our military.  That’s pretty sobering, isn’t it? Such a small percentage.

November 11th is their day. It’s the day every year the nation pauses to honor and thank all those who serve and all veterans who have served in our country’s military. “Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” 

If you’re a veteran, or you have a family member or friend who is, you know that these people choose to put themselves in harm’s way if the need to protect us arises. They’re the ones who spend holidays away from their families and friends, who miss birthdays and anniversaries, first steps, first days at school, graduations. They’re the reservists who put their civilian lives on hold to fulfill their commitment to our security and our way of life. And they’re the ones who often come back to us changed—sometimes from visible, sometimes from invisible injuries.

Here at the National Veterans Foundation, we talk with vets and with their family members all day long.  Our counselors are all vets. Our non-veteran team members are all military brats, meaning they grew up in families where one or both parents were veterans. That’s no coincidence, by the way. A high percentage of military brats either join the military themselves or choose occupations of service to others. Amy Schafer, in her piece “The Warrior Caste” on Slate.com, tells us that “between 22 and 35 percent (depending on the service) are the child of a service member.”

It’s in the culture.

If you’re in an area that has a military base nearby, you see these men and women in uniform. They’re a constant reminder of the stakes of the commitment they’ve made.  If you’re a part of the 99% who don’t see those reminders, this holiday is especially important. You’ll have to look harder at the people around you.  They’re there, the veterans.  This is your chance to thank them.

If you know a veteran, male or female, who needs help, here’s our Lifeline for Vets crisis and information hotline: 888.777.4443.

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Shad Meshad

As a U.S. Army Medical Service Officer in Vietnam in 1970, Shad Meshad began pioneering treatment techniques for what would later become known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is the founder of the National Veterans Foundation and founder and co-author of the VA’s Vet Center Program.

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