November is a great time to reflect on supporting our country’s veterans. Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11 in honor of the millions of military veterans across the U.S. The day coincides with holidays such as Armistice and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other countries and also honor military veterans.
There’s no denying that veterans need the support of people whose freedoms they protect. According to a 2021 study from researchers at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the percentage of veterans with disabilities is significantly higher among post-9/11 veterans (40%) than it was with veterans from previous eras (25% for Gulf War veterans and 13% for veterans of previous wars). Veterans benefit from support legislated by elected officials in Washington, but there’s also many things ordinary citizens can do to show their appreciation for the sacrifices veterans and their families have made and will make in the years to come.
- Visit wounded veterans. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than one-third of the nearly 3.8 million men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since September 2001 have a service-connected disability. Many are fighting to overcome physical injuries sustained while on active duty. Individuals wanting to show their support for veterans can contact their local VA facility to arrange a visit to wounded veterans. Such visits can lift veterans’ spirits and reassure them that their sacrifices are both acknowledged and appreciated.
- Support legislation that supports veterans. Though it might seem like a no-brainer, legislation to support veterans often faces an uphill battle to get passed. By supporting legislation that ensures veterans get the support they need, individuals can send a message to veterans that they haven’t been forgotten, and that the very democratic principles they fought to protect are alive and well. Citizens can write letters to their elected officials, urging them to support veteran-friendly legislation, and raise awareness of bills and laws through social media.
- Help raise awareness about homeless veterans. Data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that approximately 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. But that figure doesn’t tell the whole story, as the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) notes that, over the course of a year, roughly twice that many veterans experience homelessness. The NCHV believes that programs to assist homeless veterans should focus on helping them obtain and sustain gainful employment. In addition, the NCHV believes the most effective programs are community-based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups. Individuals can offer their support to such groups through financial donations or other means so they can continue to ensure no veteran sleeps on the street.
Veterans Day is a time to show veterans that their service and sacrifices are not taken for granted. Visiting wounded veterans and supporting efforts to ensure veterans get what they need to live full, healthy, and happy lives is a great way to send the message that veterans are appreciated. Locally, learn more about services and resources for veterans at https://www.va.gov/buffalo-vet-center.