DEAR READERS: Today is Veterans Day. Too often we notice these holidays on the calendar, but they take on meaning only when they affect us directly. It is worth pointing out that we live in relative safety thanks to the sacrifices that our men and women in the armed forces offer in order to keep our country and its citizens safe.
Recently, I have been talking to high school and college students who are contemplating what’s next for their lives. One young man, who immigrated to our country with his family when he was a baby, told me that as soon as he finishes college, he intends to go into the Air Force officers training school, if is he fortunate enough to be selected, because he wants to build a career in the military. “Why?” I wanted to know. He answered that he was inspired by his grandfather, who had fought in World War II back in his home country. His grandfather’s stories of valor stirred up something within him that set him on this course.
If you listen to young people, you will hear similar stories time and again. Yes, it can be dangerous to enter into the military, but there are also amazing benefits. The myriad educational opportunities seem endless. The areas of concentration are vast. And not every job is on the front line of a conflict.
But even for those jobs that are in direct combat, the preparation to be able to master a weapon or maneuver is top-notch. In other words, each person on the front line is prepared to be there.
I am not going into all this detail as an ad for the armed services -- not at all. More, I wanted to shine a light on the fact that for those people who decided to take that step, the arm of the military that they choose will do its best to keep that person out of harm’s way.
On Veterans Day, our attention really should be on what happens when they return. After serving, when our veterans rejoin society, they often need an extra dose of TLC from family members and, sometimes, from mental health professionals. In order to participate in some of the activities that keep our country safe, members of our military have had to learn how to approach situations in a way that is different from what is acceptable in civilian circumstances. The transition can be rocky at best.
The argument for more support of veterans is not a new one, but it wages on. To ensure that the care that veterans need at home is offered to them, we need to raise our voices and demand that Congress adequately fund the programs that will support their full rehabilitation. This is a topic that deserves loud voices speaking out on behalf of the men and women who come home with the various emotional and physical challenges that commonly plague veterans.
To learn more about what the Veterans Administration does for veterans, go to va.org. If you have a veteran in your life who needs more support, call 800-827-1000.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)