Every day, millions of Americans wake up and enjoy the freedoms guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution. It’s easy to believe that we enjoy those liberties because they were written and signed into law. In all actuality, we enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” because of the men and women who have fought, and bravely continue to do so around the world to protect our nation. Since the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11, America has sent over 2.5 million men and women to fight in the Middle East. More than just our appreciation, these brave heroes deserve our unfaltering support. Here are some ideas for what civilians can do to exhibit their support toward active military members.
When veterans return home, it is crucial to their recovery that we show them a warm welcome. It’s not that everyone who serves wants a hometown parade down main street, but the aftermath of the Vietnam War taught us how harmful being poorly received when returning home from war could be. Being welcomed and engaged in the community can help men and women who have actively served overcome trauma (physical or mental) and has been shown to relieve some symptoms of PTSD. It’s important to remember that these men and women have been gone from home for months or years on end; welcoming them back with a warm smile, a kind word, and something to be a part of is the least we can do.
Another widespread epidemic is the number of veterans who are unable to find work once they return home. By no means are our military members looking for a handout once they make it back home, but they do need to be able to continue to provide for themselves and their families. If you are in a position to give someone a job who has served or can talk to someone who is in a position to do so, check into doing just that. Offer a veteran a position, so he or she can continue to feel a sense of purpose.
Finally, don’t ask for details about their combat experience. Many of them saw some of the worst times of their lives while serving, and they don’t need to relive those experiences over lunch. Let them talk about what they would like to talk about.
Being there for our veterans is an honor and a privilege. Let’s continue to help them on their road to recovery.