Family Matters Blog: Take Time to Thank a Veteran

WASHINGTON — My daugh­ter came home from school the oth­er day and told me she had learned about Vet­er­ans’ Day in class.
“I told the teacher my mom is a vet­er­an,” she said proud­ly.
Her words touched me. I was thrilled that she had remem­bered my ser­vice and proud that she felt the need to share it. I sep­a­rat­ed from the active-duty Air Force after eight years of ser­vice near­ly six years ago, and have long since put away my old uni­forms and pho­to albums.
Still, my pride at hav­ing served is as strong as ever. I loved being a part of some­thing so much big­ger than myself, and still miss the cama­raderie and deep friend­ships a mil­i­tary lifestyle fos­ters.

And I feel a deep sense of pride to think I’m tied in some way to oth­er vet­er­ans, par­tic­u­lar­ly after this past decade of war.

Today, the nation cel­e­brates Vet­er­ans’ Day, a day set aside to hon­or Amer­i­can vet­er­ans through­out his­to­ry for their ser­vice and sac­ri­fice.

Only a frac­tion of Amer­i­cans choose to serve, but their sac­ri­fice is any­thing but small. Our ser­vice­mem­bers put them­selves in harm’s way –- some pay­ing the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice — so we can go to bed each night in a free nation. And they’ve been doing so since the birth of our nation.

Our most recent vet­er­ans par­tic­u­lar­ly need our sup­port. They served with hon­or and val­or, but many move on with the vis­i­ble and invis­i­ble wounds of war.

In a recent speech, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not­ed that many ser­vice­mem­bers and their fam­i­lies have endured five year­long or up to 25 short­er deploy­ments since 2003.

“From the every­day sac­ri­fices of missed birth­days, soc­cer games and spe­cial moments each fam­i­ly cher­ish­es, to the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal reper­cus­sions attached to the post-com­bat expe­ri­ence, these are lives for­ev­er changed,” Mullen said.

As ser­vice­mem­bers tran­si­tion out of the mil­i­tary and into oth­er endeav­ors, they need our sup­port just as much as those who cur­rent­ly serve.

First Lady Michelle Oba­ma and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, often speak of the need to embrace our mil­i­tary fam­i­lies in our com­mu­ni­ties and work places. That extends also to our vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.

Take time today to thank vet­er­ans for their ser­vice, whether they served decades ago in World War II or last year in Iraq. And extend your sup­port to them at all times of the year. Togeth­er, we can let our vet­er­ans know they are appre­ci­at­ed, and that their ser­vice and sac­ri­fice nev­er will be for­got­ten.

To read about some of the hero­ic men and women who have served the nation, vis­it the Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice Web Spe­cial Report: “Vet­er­ans’ Reflec­tions.” Sto­ries will be post­ed about vet­er­ans from World War II, the con­flicts in Korea and Viet­nam and the Gulf War through­out the month of Novem­ber.

To com­ment on this blog, or read oth­er posts, vis­it the Fam­i­ly Mat­ters web­site.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter