President Barack Obama issued an official announcement this week proclaiming Nov. 11, 2013 as Veterans Day.
On Veterans Day, America pauses to honor every service member who has ever worn one of our nation's uniforms. On this day, America also acknowledges the profound debt of gratitude that it owes its patriots.
By way of expressing this gratitude, we hope that all men and women who have served our country in uniform are respected and given the care they deserve. Let’s not overlook our veterans, but instead - always remember our wounded, our missing, our fallen, and their families. When we hand out services and benefits, let us not forget members of the National Guard or the reserves. When our wounded warriors seek help, let us not ridicule them. When we make policies or create programs for our veterans, let us include them in initial stages of development. When we report on our wounded warriors, let us not emphasize the negative or misuse statistics. And when returning veterans seek employment, let us not discriminate against them. After all, in the words of the President, “no one who fights for our country should ever have to fight for a job.”
As a veteran and a family member of a loved one impacted by mental illness, my heart goes out to the under-served—including families, women veterans, National Guard and reserve members and military children—who for the most part, suffer in silence. Let us commit to taking care of the battle wounds of these populations as well. This is how we show the fullest support of a grateful nation.
A grateful nation also invests in research that helps to improve the quality of life for veterans and service members with psychological wounds. A recent study found that treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) reduces the nightmares of military veterans affected by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep apnea. Another recent study found that Vietnam veterans living with PTSD are much more likely to develop heart disease.
Such research findings benefit all of us. We will not have real peace until we appreciate the beauty of diversity in our nation and do right by the relatively few men and women who sacrifice their lives for American freedom.