Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saluting our Veterans on Veterans Day

WE believes that as a nation, every single day we should take a moment to honor the men and women of the armed forces who served the United States, especially those service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  But on Veterans Day, it provides a special opportunity for Americans to collectively express their gratitude and sincere appreciation for their commitment and service.
On Veterans Day, Shinseki will join White House and military officials, and leaders of major Veterans organizations, at the traditional Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.  Across the country, from the rousing notes of the “Star Spangled Banner” to the poignant bugle solo of “Taps,” Americans will celebrate U.S. Veterans with music, ceremonies and speeches.  Nearly 100 VA-sponsored activities are scheduled, highlighted by Birmingham’s 63rd annual Veterans Day parade and parades in Lexington and Denver; recognition ceremonies in Anchorage, Alaska, Chillicothe, Ohio, and Tomah, Wis.; concerts in Durham, N.C., Bath, N.Y., and Tucson, Ariz.; and the third annual Veterans Run/Walk in West Haven, Conn.  The oath of citizenship will be administered to 25 Veterans at the Fort Sam Houston Cemetery in Texas as they become official citizens of the nation they served.[1]
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs the projected U.S. Veterans population is 23,067,000 with 8 percent, or 1,824,000 being females.  Among our Veterans, 79.3% are white, 11.3% are black, 5.8% are Hispanic, 1.5% are Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.8% are American Indian and 1.3% are classified as “other” ethnicity.  The number of Veterans with service-related disabilities is just over 3 million.  And as of September 30th, there were an estimated 2,272,000 World War II Veterans still living.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, summarized it best when she stated: “This Veterans Day, I invite all Americans to never forget those willing to serve our great nation. Here in South Florida we have an extraordinary diverse cross-section of veterans, and I am honored to represent each and every one of them in the U.S. Congress. Whether they have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Merchant Marines, all members of our Veterans community have helped secure our nation’s values of freedom and democracy for future generations. Although America’s veterans come from all walks of life, they share one thing in common: A belief in the promise of America and the desire to protect the freedoms we all hold dear.”[2]
Unfortunately, many of our Veterans are homeless today.  The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that there are 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, with an additional 1.5 million at risk of being homeless.  Racial and ethnic minorities represent a disproportion 56% of the homeless Veterans in the United States.
NCHV states that Veterans “need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment…[through] job assessment, training and placement assistance…helping them obtain and sustain employment.
There exists a need in almost every community to help our Veterans.  The NCHV database provides an excellent resource for homeless Veterans, but there are many other resources – including the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion, to name a few.  The VA lists accredited service organizations on its website here:
So on this Veterans Day, please consider donating blankets, or nonperishable food items, or unwanted clothes or anything that you think might help out a Veteran in need.
WE invites you to learn more about Veterans Day on VA's Veterans Day website at under “Regional Observances.”   
The WE Movement and its HELP4U platform support this worthwhile campaign.  We have joined, will you?  Learn more at

[1] U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, “On Veterans Day, VA Secretary Shinseki Recognizes, Thanks Veterans,” November 11, 2010.
[2] Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Veterans Day Message, November 11, 2010.

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