Making a difference in veterans’ lives
Veterans’ Voices is directed toward veterans and their families who have given so much to ensure our freedom in this country. This is an area where you may share your experiences, or read of other veterans’ experiences. We thank you for your service, and hope that you know how much you are loved and appreciated.
First, let me explain the definition of a veteran. What makes us veterans?
You’re a veteran if you:
Have engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard), or are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes or were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies; and were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
The United States continues to wield its global military dominance in wars and armed conflicts around the world. While most of us will never go to war, millions have.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) estimates that 41.89 million Americans have fought in wars, from the American Revolution in 1775 to Desert Storm in 1991. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the start of the Global War on Terror, 3.3 million veterans have served in the U.S. military. Today, there are around 1.4 million active-duty military service members living in the United States or deployed in more than 150 countries.
As of the end of 2018, there were approximately 18 million veterans in the United States, or 7.1 percent of the adult population. More than 5 million veterans have at least one disability, 1.2 million live in poverty, and 77 percent of veterans aged 18 to 64 are employed or looking for work. At the end of 2018, an estimated 37,878 veterans were homeless.
Close to 4 million or 35.5 percent of U.S. veterans served in Vietnam, the most heavily represented conflict among veterans. In all states but three the largest group of veterans is that of Vietnam War vets. Alaska, Hawaii, and Virginia are the exception. The largest group of veterans in these three states served in the Gulf War. California has the most veterans today with almost 1.5 million.
As a whole, the American public believes that military veterans deserve respect and support. However, with so many veterans facing unemployment, homelessness, and mental health problems, among other challenges, it’s clear we’re not doing enough.
It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of veterans’ issues. Problems like veteran homelessness and PTSD can’t be solved by one person’s goodwill, but that doesn’t mean individual efforts don’t make a difference. Here are ways you can help America’s veterans.
• Show your support by providing transportation. A lot of times, a veteran has no way to get to doctor appointments. They have to take public transportation. Give them a lift.
• Visit wounded or ill veterans in nearby medical facilities. One visit could make a world of difference in their lives. I remember when I was in the hospital. A little 7-year-old girl visited me, and I will never forget her. She made my day. She made me a get-well card. That was in 1971. I still have it.
• Say “thank you” and mean it. Really look them in the eyes and be genuine.
• Perform household chores or repairs for a veteran in need.
• Donate your time to a veteran’s organization.
• Spend time with a veteran and really listen.
• Visit a vet with your pet. It is a well-known fact that animals provide emotional and physical benefits.
• Volunteer your services to help vets in need.
Take one hour a week to do just one of these. Take your own family when you perform these. Show your children how important it is to help others in need.
Any comments or suggestions, email me @ AboutVets@yahoo.com.
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— Royal D. Goodman, U.S. Army / Vietnam,
1st Cav/9th Infantry