First, I want to take this time to recognize the two veterans that shaped my life.  My mother and my father both served and met during the Korean War era.  My father served in Vietnam and retired as a captain. My mother served in the Women’s Army Corp.  Service is the one thing that unites individuals, teams, organizations and countries.  Thank you to all Veterans.

It will soon be time to remind ourselves why Monday, November 11th is a national holiday.  It’s Veterans Day and there are many people who may want to understand the true meaning of the word veteran.

“Veteran” means a person who served in any branch of the military be it Army, Navy, Marine or Air Force and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. Those are the words that mean “veteran,” but if you happen to know someone who served the United States by spending a portion of their life standing in harm’s way to protect freedom, then you know much more about the word.

The person who becomes a soldier, a protector, should be celebrated. And, since 1954, Veterans Day has existed to honor veterans of all wars.

According to National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics (NCVAS) there are over 22 million veterans in the United States today.  While this number is shrinking due to the national budget and the Armed Services’ change in their recruiting methods, a large amount of people [which] make up this demographic.

On Veterans Day, find some way to honor those who served our country.  Unless they identify themselves with articles of clothing, things posted on their social media or memorabilia in their vehicles or homes, a veteran might be difficult to spot.  They are among us—every day and everywhere.  While you may not have a family member or friend who served in the Armed Forces, it is important to understand what value they bring to our country and our lives.

So how can you make a difference and show appreciation to those who have made sacrifices and given to our country in a manner of commitment, service and respect? Here are some suggestions:

Show appreciation – When you see any indication that a person may be a veteran a simple “thank you” will go a long way.  So many veterans feel misunderstood and disconnected to the civilian world and our greater appreciation of their service is one why to make a connection.

Make a donation or volunteer your time – Small donations to VA Hospitals are always welcome. Many patients are on fixed incomes and unable to buy some of the things that could make their recoveries better. Check with your local VA Hospital, but here are some items they are looking for:  Magazines, coffee and cookies, new or gently used clothing and telephone cards.

Veterans of all wars seek health care at the nation’s many VA hospitals. And more than likely, there is a VA hospital in your community.  Many of those hospitalized may not have family or anyone to visit them. Taking a couple hours every week or month to volunteer can make a huge impact on your life and a veteran’s life. This would also be a great way to teach children American history by introducing them to the people who have preserved America’s freedom.

At the very least, go to the Veterans Administration website, for more information on veterans. And have a happy Veterans Day, while standing in appreciation.

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