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Do You Really Appreciate Veterans?

Veterans Day on November 11th is coming up soon. How will you acknowledge it … or … show appreciation to a veteran?

Let’s start with “What is a Veteran?” Basically it is “a former member of the armed services”. There are five branches of the United States military (armed services). They are: Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Army. You’ll notice that this definition does not include the men and women who are currently serving. That’s called “active duty”.

To be a veteran there is no time requirement except having been on full time active duty. There is also no requirement relative to peacetime, wartime, or engaging in combat. There is a special term called “combat veteran”.

We celebrate veterans and their families because of their patriotism to defend the United States and our democracy and the many sacrifices they endure to serve.  A few examples include daily dangers in both war and peace, being uprooted every two years or so (impact on spousal employment, kids schools and friends, having to find new service providers – doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc.), deployments of 9 months where the spouse is alone with children, and many other things.

Veterans Day has its origins at the end of World War I when at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the fighting ended with the signing of an armistice.

It has become fairly common for people to say “Thank you for your service” upon meeting an active duty person or veteran. It may not be apparent, but some receiving that greeting see it as trite.  As a veteran of 20 years in the Coast Guard, I will suggest that is a good thing to say, but please make sure it comes across as sincere and heartfelt.

Beyond a greeting, how can we thank or acknowledge veterans? There is a website called “Carry the Load” which provides several ideas on how to do that. Here are others:

  • Donate to a Veterans-based charity (money, cars, portions of estates)
  • Have a Veteran speak to your organization
  • Attend a Veteran’s Day parade
  • Hire a Veteran when there’s a skills match (Here’s a Jeffism:  “When all else is equal, hire the person that will be the most grateful”).
  • Help a Veteran find appropriate housing
  • Participate in wreath laying for Veterans
  • Assist Veterans in making their transition to civilian life (I am currently delivering training to a third cohort of retiring active duty personnel helping them prepare for their second career.)
  • Participate in the Honor Flights program (shout out to my friend Susan Stinson who has done that for several years).

So please think about Veterans Day in a different light this year.  Find a way and get involved. We need those on active duty, Veterans, and their families.

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