While Memorial Day is our designated day for mourning and remembering those who have given their lives in the service of their country, Veterans Day is about remembering all who have served, including our living veterans. This year, do more than remember. While it is a nice and respectful gesture to attend a parade or post a message of support on your Facebook profile, challenge yourself to do more this Veterans Day. Here are some ideas:
1. Hire a veteran. Are you a small business owner or a manager who is looking for a new employee? Make a point of talking to your HR and recruitment teams about how your company is reaching out to veterans. Post 9/11 veterans have a disproportionately high unemployment rate (10% as of September 2013). Do something to help change this.
2. Give to an organization that supports veterans. I truly admire the work of The Wounded Warrior Project, a charity that my husband and I support. Other great organizations include IAVA and Fisher House Foundation and Homes for Our Troops.
3. Make our politicians live up to the promises we’ve made to our veterans. Tell your congressional representatives that you want the VA to process vets’ benefits in a timely manner. Support government policies that help veterans deal with post-traumatic stress or find jobs or help homeless vets (more than 1/5 of homeless Americans are veterans, to our great shame).
4. Send a letter of support or a care package to veterans who are currently deployed. And don’t forget military families, who are sacrificing so much while their loved ones are away from home.
5. Think critically about policies that send our people into harm’s way. The next time our government representatives are talking about sending our people into war, don’t just mindlessly fall into step with whatever the media or the politicians tell you. Research what is going on, what our options are, and what the motivations are on all sides. Sending our fellow Americans into battle and deploying our people into dangerous situations all over the world is the most serious commitment we make as a country. Don’t make it lightly.