I’m going to open this with saying simply:
Thank you, veterans of the U.S. Armed Services for your service and dedication.
That is the EASY part. It’s a “well, duh” moment in my book.
The second? Is to remind those veterans who may be suffering alone that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO. Reach out. Ask for help.
YOU DESERVE IT.
… seriously. I only know a small portion of what you’ve been through, but that stuff sticks. I saw things as an EMS medic that still stick with me years later. Reach out. You are NOT ALONE.
Now, for the rest of us…
There are things asked of us as citizens that aren’t pleasant, easy, or safe. Most of us do our minimum, like pay our taxes and serve on the jury. (some with significant whining and avoiding that much)
Some of us do more, like working a ladle in the soup kitchen or getting out of warm beds at 3am to make sure our fellows are safe, to extinguish a fire, to perform CPR.
Some of us agree to surrender their freedom and their safety for years at a time, to be sent away from home with the not insignificant chance of never returning.
Are the things those people are sent to do always righteous? Oh hell no. We are a meddlesome, authoritarian country that LOVES to fuck around with other people, prop up failing dictators, protect economic interests and generally toss our weight around.
But we’re also a country willing to step in and be the muscle for the world. We are a military country and always have been. We CAN do good in that, and we have.
And more than any other of the esoteric ideals, our soldiers and sailors and airmen and guards sign up for that. They sign up for the IDEAL of what our country stands for, and can do.
But you know what ELSE they sign up for? More than anything else tangible?
Because the vast, VAST majority of our service-people are from the poor families in the nation. The ones who dream every day about improving, growing, getting ahead. Our nation takes their service, risks their lives, pays mediocre-at-best, then returns them with only the barest of chances to really get ahead. Oh, and subjects them to an under-supported and under-funded VA system. Let’s not forget that part.
We can do better. We can do more than elect politicians who gravely shake the hands of grieving families and salute the flag. We can demand that just as we ask service of our citizens, we give it in return.
Thank our veterans. Help them out. Support them, and vote for policies that take care of our fellow citizens just like they take care of us.