I’m a Navy Veteran. To some degree, I appreciate all the people and companies who are filling my inbox today with generic spam and ads that have “Thank You to our Veterans” in the subject line, and a variety of promotions and discounts they are offering to “honor my service”. It’s nice that these folks have Veterans on their minds this weekend, but honestly, if you are going to take the time to send me an email or conduct a sale, why don’t you ask me what I really want for Veterans’ Day? Don’t assume I want a mattress sale, a furniture sale, or a discount on my meal. If you really want to honor Veterans, ask us what we want. Here’s what I want for Veterans’ Day:
• A pair of pants
• A shirt
• A warm coat
• Some underwear
• Some socks
• Some shoes
• A job
• To be treated nicely if you meet me on the street
I don’t need any of those things for myself, but yesterday I spent the morning with homeless Veterans at the VA Clinic in San Francisco. They, and Veterans of all ages across the U.S., need the items listed above, and if you give these things to them, you’re giving them to me, as well.
And I’m not just concerned about homeless Veterans, because there are Wounded Warriors who are on the verge of losing everything who need help, too. I’ve been talking with a medically retired Special Ops Army Sgt who lives in North Carolina. Before he was called back on to active duty in 2001, he owned a multi-million dollar wireless internet connection business. But he was wounded in Baghdad in 2004, leaving him with seizures; memory, hearing, and vision loss; 60% loss of lung function; limited ability to walk and stand…and little hope. He’s the father of four kids, and from the 10th of each month until his paycheck arrives on the 1st of the following month, they cannot afford groceries, so they ration MRE’s (meals ready to eat) from an Army surplus store to get by.
No amount of emails and sales circulars thanking me for my service can make me feel good about Veterans’ Day when one of my brothers in arms is living this way.
Sometimes it seems like a million years ago when I wore a Navy uniform as a young mom, and did my best to “lead” sailors. I loved every minute of being on active duty, and even when my sailors were acting like knuckleheads in ways that only sailors can accomplish, I loved ‘em and they were precious to me. It breaks my heart to see the way some of our soldiers, sailors and Marines are living on Veterans’ Day, but I believe that together, we can help them. Let that be our mission this Veterans’ Day and beyond.
If you really want to thank a Veteran for his or her service, contact me at jillbuck[at]Comcast.net, and I’ll help you find a way to make a meaningful contribution in your area. With any luck, I’ll be so inundated with emails that it make take me a week or two to get back to you, but I will get back to you.
Thank you in advance for your service to those who served.