Our veterans deserve much more

Veterans Day is on Nov. 11 every year. This year, it falls on a Saturday, which means federal employees will observe the holiday a day early.

“While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.” –  Gary Sinise

Mr. Sinise is correct; we can always do more to thank our soldiers who line our streets with freedom. Their sacrifice and courage are often set aside by headlines, political mumbo jumbo, or our personal worlds. When we become absorbed in our daily routines, we often fail to remember that without them, we would have no political mumbo jumbo or headlines.

Freedom of the press, freedom to vote, and freedom to succeed and worship come at a high price paid for by our heroes, both past and present. Our Veterans and fallen soldiers have saved us from ourselves many times over.

We don’t need to look far to see what life resembles without independence. Women who aren’t allowed to be educated or countries whose daily news events are controlled or censored. Places where tyrants rule by ego-infused power and armies are fueled by fear.   Lands where children are used as human shields and corruption is apparent.

Yet, when we do see those who suffer under such evil, do we stop to realize that those who served our nation are the ones who kept us from falling into such horrors?

We pause to honor our fallen warriors on Memorial Day and our Veterans on their day in November each year. But pausing is not enough. Two days is insufficient, and there could never be enough thankfulness.

Today, 67,495 veterans are homeless. Furthermore, according to VA Claims Insider, our former military members are two times more likely to become homeless than those who never served.

One million Veterans live below the poverty line, and 4.9 million or 27% of all veterans have a service-related disability.

A new and troubling report found that 24 veterans per day commit suicide. Death by suicide is 1.5 times higher than the general population and 2.5 times higher for the women who once served.

So, clearly, after reading those statistics, are two days of gratitude enough? Is our freedom worth doing a wee bit more?

Our personal divides, our seemingly endless politicizing of everything and everyone, should become secondary to our thankfulness for those who served our great nation.  We must resolve to take care of those who protect us from harm.  We as a nation are obviously not doing enough to protect them.

My love for our service members grew enormously as I aged.  My peers served in Vietnam, and many came home with profound, long-lasting disabilities. Mental and physical scars accompanied them through life and those that made it home still grieve for those who didn’t.

These selfless men and women are the best of America. They continue to serve our nation with dignity, courage, and inspiration.

On December 6, 2018, a wheelchair-bound World War II veteran rose with help to salute another soldier.  It took all former Senator Bob Dole could physically muster to give a final farewell to his friend and former rival, President George H.W. Bush. The love of country and their fellow man came before the physical scars they bore. Ultimately, it was their honor to serve our nation with the class and dignity America should always represent.

No one should lead our country who does not understand the sacrifices of those who served our nation and protected our rights. They should never be in Congress or serve in any capacity in government. With an evident appreciation for our military members, our heroes can maintain hope and avoid dire consequences.

The best way to honor our Veterans is to live an appreciative life and never undermine their achievements by being insensitive to their needs. We are still America because of these brave men and women, no matter how self-absorbed we can become or how divided we can be. As long as they keep up the good fight, we must battle to become better and more appreciative citizens.

We can open our wallets and hearts and give to those who need our help. We can demand more support and less rhetoric from our representatives.

So, for more than two days per year, let us do more than pay lip service to our Veterans; let’s unite and care for our heroes.

“Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.” — President Abraham Lincoln.

We must do more; we must endure.


Lynn Walker Gendusa is a Georgia author and columnist. Her latest book is “Southern Comfort: Stories of Family, Friendship, Fiery Trials, and Faith.” She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com. For more of her inspirational stories, click here

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