DEAR READERS: Happy Veterans Day! I offer love and blessings to all veterans and veterans’ families. We live in a country that has enjoyed relative safety from foreign violence on our shores for many years, in large part thanks to the strength, dedication, skill and sacrifice of our military. For those who have fought on our behalf, we give thanks. To their families, we offer our deepest gratitude because we know that the sacrifices do not end with the person who served.
So many of our families can share stories of members who served in a branch of our armed forces over the generations. My maternal grandfather served in WWI. My father served in WWII. I still remember stories that he used to tell us. Being a tall Black man in the '40s, he had lots of challenges due to segregation and Jim Crow on our own shores. In France, he was beloved. He enjoyed telling us how he was able to serve our country and also, ironically, be better respected abroad than in America.
When I listen to families today talking about loved ones who have served or who are currently serving, I see a similar reverence for the commitment they have made and concern about how they will fare if and when they return home.
I see veterans in my own neighborhood, some who are suffering from conditions -- likely PTSD -- who are not receiving care. I have known veterans who came home burdened by mental distress and not seeking or receiving the support they needed. To be fair, there are plenty of veterans who are getting that life-preserving help. But surely we can do more for these people.
Especially now, during the pandemic, when resources seem to be stretched, we need to remain generous and thoughtful to our veterans. Even more, we can lobby our elected officials and the White House itself to do all in their power to support our veterans. We should not, and cannot, forget these souls when they return home. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to those who made the choice to serve our country.
I have neighbors who are Israeli. They have shared with me how every Israeli citizen must serve for two years in the Israeli army -- period. In this way, everyone must fulfill the responsibility of serving their country. Because it is a requirement, it isn’t something that people try to get out of or never consider in the first place. It’s part of their culture. Part of their DNA.
What is our culture’s relationship to military service? What is yours? Do you believe that you respect the men and women who serve? What more can you do to show your appreciation for their service? This is worth contemplating, especially today.
We can start by saying "thank you." We can start by acknowledging veterans when we see them in uniform. We can reach out to families and neighbors who we know have loved ones in service right now. We can choose to keep these people in our awareness and seek them out to offer support. We can be thoughtful citizens by not forgetting those who work to keep our borders safe. We can remember that our military is nonpartisan. The military is designed to support the country and all of its citizens regardless of political persuasion. We can take a page out of their book and begin to support each other. And then the much-needed healing for all of us can begin.
(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.)