Celebrating America’s veterans
In 1775, the Second Continental Congress was convened and recognized America’s first veterans when it voted a pension for disabled Continental soldiers. Today, we come from all over the 50 United States of America. Some of us come from U. S. territories and some are immigrants from foreign lands.
We are part of America’s long history of 42 million Americans who served on active duty in one of America’s Armed Forces. No single generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending American freedom by force of arm, thereby we became veterans. The Veterans Administration estimates that there are 25 million veterans living today.
Over 1 million of our comrades paid the supreme sacrifice on the battlefield, and 1.4 million of our veterans suffer from combat wounds. Many of our comrades lie buried outside the continental United States in U.S military cemeteries in England, France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, North Africa, Mexico, Hawaii and the Philippines. Some of our Navy and Coast Guard comrades lie in watery graves at the bottom of the world’s oceans, resulting from fighting in American sea battles.
Many of our displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. The trauma caused by these deficiencies are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks. In addition, military occupations are not always transferrable to the civilian work force when veterans seek employment. An estimated 2 million veterans are suffering from service-connected disabilities that occurred while serving on active duty.
Many of our fellow veterans’ sacrifices happen without fanfare or recognition. We veterans did not pledge ourselves simply because we thought it was our duty. We pledged ourselves because we held a deep-seated belief that our country, the United States of America, was worth fighting for.
Nov. 11 is Veterans Day— a day we honor all veterans.