You would have to search far and wide to find someone who either has not served in a branch of the military services, or whose family members did not serve.
That seems a likely conclusion to draw from statistics — between 1776 and today, more than 40 million Americans have served. Keep that fact in mind as you go about your Friday.
Today is the “official” Veterans Day. Tomorrow is the actual calendar Veterans Day, so you have two full days in which to find a veteran — maybe the one there in your own home or office — and thank him or her for their service to this country and its citizens.
Veterans Day honors all who have worn the uniform of one or more of the military branches. Memorial Day in late May, on the other hand, honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the service of this nation.
Even with those big numbers, less than a half-percent of the total U.S. population is active military at any one time. That percentage may change on the upside, considering the ramping up of hostilities between the United States and rogue nations and terrorist groups worldwide.
If those hostilities escalate into wars, there will be many more veterans in our future — and we hope they receive better treatment from the federal government than recent veterans have received.
The personal-finance website WalletHub did its usual splendid job breaking down some of the data concerning military veterans, the latest being identifying the best places in America for veterans to retire.
Tops on the list is Austin, Texas. No big surprise there. Austin is a nice community with a vibrant citizenry. The worst place for veterans is Detroit, Michigan. No big surprise there, either. In fact, a city that used to be the hub of America’s transportation industry is now a virtual ghost town.
The only California town in the top-10 is San Diego. Again, no surprise. San Diego has been a center of military activity since before World War II.
We mentioned earlier about Americans’ diverse feelings concerning war. The fact is that “diverse” may not be the right word to describe the situation. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they’d rather declare bankruptcy than fight in a war. More than 80 percent say the military should spend more on health care and retirement benefits for veterans, than on planes, tanks and drones. And roughly seven in 10 Americans say the military doesn’t do enough to teach soldiers about personal finance, and that veterans should not have to pay a penny for life insurance.
Those are some random thoughts and numbers to keep in mind today and tomorrow, as you go about your daily routine.
Something else to keep in mind is the sacrifices soldiers make day in and day out, and that far too many of them escape the perils of combat only to bring that overseas war with them when they finally come home.
There are reasons why so many veterans exit the service, come home and become victims of substance abuse, mental disorders and homelessness. Serving in our military can be, and is an honor — but it is also something that induces stresses those who haven’t served cannot even imagine.
You may think you know about war from watching films like “Sands of Iwo Jima,” “Full Metal Jacket” or “The Hurt Locker,” which are all incredibly realistic — but they don’t, can’t capture the realities of war.
So, celebrate Veterans Day today and tomorrow. Those who serve will appreciate your attention.