"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
Armistice Day was amended to Veterans Day (no apostrophe) in 1954.
Noting that Wilson seemed focused on those who died, it seems fitting to focus on those veterans who served and lost in other ways:
- Every 65 minutes, a United States veteran commits suicide; estimated to be between 18-22 per day.
- 1.5 million veteran households use food stamps (aka Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program). There are approximately 21.2 million veterans in the United States.
- 6.9% of all male veterans of working age are unemployed. 8.3% of all female veterans of working age are unemployed.
- 1 in 3 disabled veterans works for a government employer, compared to 1 in 5 disabled veterans who are employed in the private sector.
- There are 401,000 veteran disability claims that have been pending before the Department of Veteran Affairs for 125 days or longer. That is an improvement from 611,000 this past Spring.
- Less than 10% of the United States population has served in the military, yet veterans make up 16% of our homeless population.
- As of 2004, nearly 1 in 10 federal and state inmates have served in the military. This number is not tracked by prison authorities and may have increased.
I hesitated in posting these facts. The narrative is such that honor and thanks have replaced true appreciation. If you have not already, I strongly recommend Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk as a 320 page explication of the relationship between those who have served and those who have not.
Ever since TJ brought the organization to my attention about a year and a half ago, I donate to Team Red White and Blue on Memorial and Veterans Day:
Team RWB is transforming the way that America supports its veterans as they transition from service member to civilian. We are creating communities of veterans, their families, and American citizens that enjoy authentic interaction through physical and social activities.
It does not provide a homeless veteran a warm bed or speed up an inexcusably long wait on their disability claim, but it shows appreciation in ways more than "thanks". More importantly, it provides a platform for that veteran to address whatever challenges they may be facing on their own terms, with other veterans, in a constructive way.
While all of the statistics that I cited above may resonate, the one I find most inexcusable is the suicide rate. Our heroes are killing themselves.