The Other Sides of Independence

Happy Birthday, Land of the Free! America celebrates 244 years of Independence this July 4th.

This year’s celebrations will likely be fewer, smaller and look different. While most of that change is imposed by the pandemic and health and safety concerns, I think it’s important to note that they bring with them a chance to re-focus.

Celebrating our cherished independence comes this year with a not-so-subtle reminder that we are all inter-dependent. Face masks and social distancing make the point that we care enough for each other to prevent the spread of the virus. We remember that with freedom comes responsibility.

That’s at the core of our mission here at the NVFV, where we help veterans and their families find the resources they need, starting with transitioning out of the military and continuing through accessing VA benefits, medical care, housing and meaningful work. One of the most important aspects of what we do is the person-to-person contact—vet-to-vet.

Recently, the NVF’s Outreach delivered Survival Boxes to the homeless in several locations around Los Angeles. We broadened our scope from homeless veterans to all homeless. The boxes held a 3-5-day supply of food, masks, gloves and personal care items. Over and over we heard people exclaim over the fact that we had come to where they were. This is the model we know works: one-to-one.

So when you’re standing in line take a moment for a closer look at those people six feet away from you. Because we are, indeed, all in this together. We all want to be treated with dignity and respect. Turn your gaze outward to be as inclusive as you can.

Independent, inter-dependent and responsible. We can do this.

If you know a veteran who needs help, here’s our Lifeline for Vets hotline: 888.777.4443.

 

 

 

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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