Honoring Our Veterans

Honoring Our Veterans

veterans day

Each year, Veterans Day presents an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. We honor those serving the country—in wartime and in peace—thanking the veterans who are still with us today.

It’s a day for honoring all veterans, as evidenced by the spelling “Veterans Day”. According to 5 Facts to Know About Veterans Day, “The holiday is not a day that ‘belongs’ to one veteran or multiple veterans, which is what an apostrophe implies. It’s a day for honoring all veterans — so no apostrophe needed.”

While we take the time to remember our veterans, we should also take a moment to consider the challenges many face after serving. In particular, healthcare continues to present an obstacle for veterans. Only through the efforts of many dedicated advocates has some improvement been made, and there’s still a long way to go.

One advocate we’d like to highlight is Mike Crosby, a retired U.S. Naval Commander who founded Veterans Prostate Cancer Awareness. This group educates veterans about their risk for prostate cancer. Together with the group Zero – The End of Prostate Cancer, Mike worked to hold the Dept. of Veterans Affairs accountable to improve access to healthcare, ensuring screenings and treatment options are available to the men who’ve served our country. “Veterans have a high concentration of probable patients who are at risk and may not know it,” Mike explains on the Zero website. “I dedicate my time to raising awareness of prostate cancer in the veteran community as a whole, because it’s vitally important for these men.” Bravo Zulu Mike.

Another major healthcare issue concerns veterans’ mental health. VA data show suicide rates have spiked for younger veterans, accounting for 14 percent of all adult suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2016, even though only 8 percent of the country’s population has served in the military. A study published by the National Institutes of Health pinpointed mental health as one of the common precipitating circumstances of the spike in suicide rates.
The VA has begun to address the epidemic, setting up a crisis intervention phone line and providing more pinpointed access to mental healthcare. Yet the struggle remains, as many veterans suffer with mental health issues and cannot access effective treatment.

The selfless actions of those who’ve chosen a life in the military deserve our focused efforts to improve their quality of life. On November 11, remember to thank veterans for their service. And if you’d like to go a step further, consider reaching out to one of these great organizations working on behalf of our vets. Make a donation or become a volunteer—giving a little can help a lot.

Here are some suggested organizations to support with donations, or with time:

VA Voluntary Service
Give An Hour 
Operation Homefront
The Soldiers Project
Lone Survivor Foundation

In Texas, find volunteer opportunities here.

Remember, you can always check non-profit organizations on Charity Navigator before donating.