The fact that we live in the “land of the free” is too often taken for granted. Unfortunately, many Americans often become complacent, and nearly forget the brave men and women who have risked everything to keep America the beacon of hope and opportunity which it long has been. So it’s particularly important that we pause and remember. Hence, every year, on November 11th—the date associated with the end of World War I, exactly 100 years ago today—the nation joins together to honor America’s veterans and thank them for their dedication.
However, many of American veterans face many additional challenges after their military service. After dedicating their lives to protecting the lives and freedoms of American civilians, veterans so often face challenges with their mental wellbeing. These issues may develop from experiences in combat, constant relocation or any number of other sacrifices. After concluding their time in the military, one in three U.S. veterans are likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Furthermore, it is estimated that veterans make up 12% of America’s homeless population. Though the experience of each veteran is unique, the struggles faced after time in theatres of war are shared by so very many.
Though there may be no way to adequately repay American veterans for their service and sacrifice, there are many ways to show gratitude. For those who may not personally know any local veterans to whom to personally express, Operation Gratitude is a good resource. Operation Gratitude is an organization that sends letters from the American people to past and present members of the military. People are able to address a letter to deployed troops, veterans, new recruits or first responders. The Operation Gratitude website offers additional information as well as letter writing tips.
Spending time with a veteran or volunteering with a veteran organization are also wonderful ways to contribute. There are many ways to get involved this Veteran’s Day, including opportunities through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization. If there are not local veteran organizations near your community, consider visiting or volunteering for a retirement home. Nearly 40% of the veterans living in the United States are over the age of 65. Local heroes may be spending their civilian lives within the walls of retirement communities.
Sometimes schedules don’t allow much wiggle room for volunteering. It happens! For people under the pressure of time constraints that still want to express gratitude this Veteran’s Day, there are many organizations that use donations to help veterans. It is always important to research organizations before contributing, a good starting point is, again, the VFW.
No matter how busy life gets, the National Foundation for Cancer Research encourages all Americans to take a moment on November 11th to appreciate the freedoms veterans have fought for and protected.