Let’s Support Our Veterans the Whole Year Through

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The United States has many veterans of all ages and backgrounds, whom we celebrate every November 11th. We have grand parades and speeches. These are all great ways to acknowledge our veterans who have placed their lives on the line to defend our country. In his Veterans Day message[i], Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough stated, “Veterans Day should be a call to action for all Americans to serve those who have served, because that’s our most sacred responsibility, on this Veterans Day and every day.” It is not enough to show appreciation for our troops just one day per year.

Although the sacrifice and service of veterans is widely appreciated, Veterans Day has not always existed. The holiday the United States has come to know as Veterans Day was initially known as Armistice Day, and began on November 11, 1918. This day commemorated the end of World War I for many years. After 1938, Armistice Day was rededicated to the overall goal of world peace and the celebration of World War I veterans.[ii] Eventually, on June 1, 1954, after World War II and the Korean War had ended, Congress approved legislation to dedicate Veterans Day to the celebration of veterans of all wars-- past, present, and future. 

Resources for Veterans Facing Challenges

Even after their tours of service have ended, veterans remember the many sacrifices they made for their country. Many veterans’ lives are impacted in both good and bad ways during and after their service.  Serving, no matter which branch, affects veterans long-term, often for a lifetime. Veterans in the United States experience a variety of challenges on a day-to-day basis, and require support and resources to resolve some issues. Some of the greatest challenges facing United States veterans are disabilities and post traumatic stress disorder.[i]

There are a variety of reputable resource centers prepared to help military veterans as well as their families and caregivers. Some resources include the National Resource Directory and  Make the Connection, which have compiled comprehensive lists of crisis lines for those who may be experiencing difficulties. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs and Veterans of Foreign Wars provide many benefits to veterans, as well as their families and caregivers. Through the VA, veterans are able to receive counseling, as well as healthcare, pensions, and insurance.[ii] There are also organizations outside of the United States government such as The National Veterans Foundation, which provide resources, assistance, and awareness to various veterans’ issues.

Joblessness and homelessness are other significant challenges many veterans face. Sometimes when Veterans return home or complete their service, they require some assistance completing their education or finding suitable employment. In 1944, the G.I. Bill[iii] was established to help veterans returning from World War II to purchase homes or start businesses with lower loan rates, or to pursue college degrees. The G.I. Bill has been modified, and in 2017, was passed as the Forever G.I. Bill.  In the 1970s, programs such as Veterans Upward Bound were established to provide veterans with college prep, tutoring, and mentoring services.[iv] Programs like these allow veterans to get back on track in society after being deployed or otherwise detained from pursuing higher education or providing for themselves and their families.

Sometimes female veterans in particular fall behind in finding jobs after their service ends. On October 4, 2021, Veterans Affairs awarded $30,000 grants[v] to three female veterans who planned to invest in their own business ventures. The grants were awarded based on the veterans’ business value propositions, or the business ideas that would best meet current market demands and solve existing issues related to business.

 

A Helping Hand for Veterans

With Veterans Day and Thanksgiving in our recent memory, individuals and organizations across the United States have striven to help veterans. Churches, hospitals, and food banks have organized countless dinners and donations, such as the 250 Thanksgiving meals donated to veterans in West Virginia by the Beckley VA Medical Center.[i] Vietnam veterans from the Elkins VA Chapter 812, also in West Virginia, distributed 273 Thanksgiving food baskets to those in need.[ii] Charitable acts like these can show veterans how appreciated they are by their communities. It can also bring communities together while helping to get food and supplies to the veterans who need them most. Vietnam veterans in the Elkins VA area have donated Thanksgiving meals every year for the past 31 years.

The United States military has fought in several significant wars over the past 80 -100 years. Many veterans of wars such as World War II, Korea, and Vietnam may benefit from the use of a medical alert device based solely on age-related health issues such as a lack of steadiness on their feet, as well as side effects from medications and chronic conditions. If you or a loved one are unsure whether a medical alert device could be of use, you can always consult a trusted physician or read Alert1’s recent blog article, “Is it Time to Start Wearing a Medical Alert System?

Those who have experienced physical injuries, as well as mental or emotional trauma associated with war and deployment, may feel more secure at home if they have a medical alert system. Especially for younger veterans, who have served in recent wars such as Desert Storm, Iraq or Afghanistan, admitting that they may benefit from the use of a medical alert device may be difficult. There is a desire to maintain an air of independence and toughness. It is important for these veterans, and all veterans, to know that they are strong, valued members of society, regardless of what difficulties they have experienced while defending our country. Those who are seeking a discreet medical alert device, which does not have the appearance of a traditional medical alarm, will love the new on-the go wristwatch. This wristwatch has an SOS button which connects to the Alert1 monitoring center in seconds. What’s more, it includes additional functions such as GPS, a weather app, and a pedometer.

Alert1 makes a real effort to support veterans. In addition to our highly-competitive prices, Alert1 offers an additional veterans discount.

Preserving Veteran History

As long as there has been war, soldiers and veterans have shared their stories with their families and communities. Many stories are oral accounts, told from one person to another, passed down generation to generation. This is especially true of wars from long ago, before people were more widely literate. Since then, letters, journal entries, and photographs have all been shared between veterans and their families and friends. Sometimes these letters and photographs contain the bulk of the knowledge one has about their loved one after they have passed on.

Due to the significance of veterans’ letters, stories, and photographs, many organizations have made efforts to catalogue these documents so that they may be preserved for future generations. The American Folklife Center, in partnership with the Library of Congress, has steadily been working on the Veteran’s History Project since 2000.[i] The Library of Congress has made it as easy as possible to add you or your family’s history to this ever growing collection. They have a field kit, which allows veterans to mail, fax, or digitally upload their memorabilia. By doing this, your own perspective and experiences can become a lasting part of history.

Many states such as Illinois, have created their own databases and digital archives to catalogue and commemorate military history. Databases like these allow people to research and learn about the military history of their area. They can also search by name, branch of service, or war to collect information. This is an excellent resource for those seeking their own family history, or to access the collective memory of their community.

Though not as grand in scale, there are small community organizations and libraries throughout the United States which seek to preserve local history and local military history. One such organization is the Montgomery Area Historical Society, which has assembled a Veterans Day display in Montgomery, Pennsylvania. Their collection includes a digital picture of Armistice Day 1918, featured in their article commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I, published in 2018. They also have a record of 129 veterans who have served in the military from their area.

No matter whether you wish to appreciate the sacrifices veterans have made over the years, or to gain a better understanding of veterans and their history, there is an ever growing list of organizations who are working to help, support, and remember veterans. It is essential that we as Americans reach out to our veterans now and in the future to provide them with the support and resources they need to build and maintain their lives and the lives of their families. The more we can do each day to honor and assist the veterans who defended our freedoms, as well as their families and caregivers, the stronger our communities will be for years to come.



[1] Editorial staff. (2021, Nov. 9). Veterans Day ‘call to action’ says VA secretary. Blogs.va.gov. https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/97032/veterans-day-call-to-action-says-va-secretary/

 

[2] Lin, Ho. (2021, Nov. 10). Veterans Day History. Military.gov. https://www.military.com/veterans-day/history-of-veterans-day.html

 

[3] Editorial Staff. (2019). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. nimh.nih.gov. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd

 

[4] Editorial Staff (2021). Outreach Portal. Chooseva.gov. https://www.choose.va.gov/outreach-portal

 

[5] Editorial Staff. (2021, Nov. 9). G.I. Bill. En.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.I._Bill

 

[6] Editorial Staff. (2021, Feb. 5). Veterans Upward Bound Program. www.2ed.gov https://www2.ed.gov/programs/triovub/index.html

 

[7] Editorial Staff. (2021, Nov. 16.). Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. va.gov. https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5741

 

[8] Upchurch, Rivers. (2021, Nov 24). Beckley VA and community partners deliver 250 thanksgiving meals to veterans. wvnstv.com. https://www.wvnstv.com/top-stories/beckley-va-and-community-partners-deliver-250-thanksgiving-meals-to-veterans/

 

[9] Kelley, Edgar. (2021, Nov. 24). Vietnam Veterans provide Thanksgiving meals. Theintermountain.com https://www.theintermountain.com/news/communities/2021/11/vietnam-veterans-provide-thanksgiving-meals/

 

[10] Editorial Staff. (2020, Aug 31). Veterans History Project. Loc.gov. https://www.loc.gov/vets/about.html