Veteran's Day: November 11, 2011

Today is Veteran's Day.

I listened to the news on the way to work this morning, and the topics reported focused on veterans, past and present: President Obama will lay a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier, there's a bill proposal to help returning vets find employment, suicide rates are alarming, two marines were seriously wounded at Occupy Wall Street protests, post traumatic stress disorder, homelessness, high divorce rates are the norm. What? I know the news focuses on the negative, but the state of returning vets and their families seems dire. Can this really be true?

Flipping from one news report to another, I realized there isn't an "on the ground" way for me to find out because I don't know a single man or woman currently serving in the military.

The only veterans I know personally are my father and his friends. They served in WWII, during the war, and as peace keepers after the war. From their stories, books and programs, I know the sacrifices soldiers, their families, and every American bore during the world war. I live near an air force base and see soldiers in uniform almost every day, but I don't know any of them or the sacrifices they and their families bear. I think this is true for the majority of Americans. We watch the news, read the paper or Internet, but the war, the service men and women and their realities, are not our reality.

All of us, me included, should realize that the men and women, who serve and have served, are our reality. They're our neighbors. We may not know them yet. There are 23 million veterans in our country. Who are they? How many do you know?

There are numerous ways to get to know our service men and women right in our own neighborhoods. Oprah aired a program last January on the US Wounded Soldier Foundation. This is one way.

I've posted veteran statistics from the Christian Science Monitor article from today. Click on the link below to see the images and to read more related aritcles.

Veterans Day: America's wartime vets, by the numbers
By Leigh Montgomery, Monitor Librarian
posted November 11, 2011 at 8:18 am EST
The Christian Science Monitor -

Veterans Day (US) and Remembrance Day (British Commonwealth) are observed on Nov. 11, the day in 1918 that an armistice ended hostilities in The Great War. Some 41 million Americans have served in the US military since 1775; 23 million of them are still alive, of whom 17 million served during a conflict.

Source: 2010 American Community Survey, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs

1.Vietnam War
Vietnam War(1964-75): Many of the 8.8 million who served in uniform were draftees; 7.6 million are alive today.

2.Korean War
Korean War(1950-53): Often called "the forgotten war," it finally had a memorial dedicated to it in Washington in 1995. Of the 5.7 million Americans who served, 2.7 million survive.

3.Operation Desert Shield/Storm
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm(1990-91): America's first encounter with Iraq's Saddam Hussein involved 2.3 million military personnel, of whom 2.2 million are still present.

4.World War II
World War II(1941-45): America's most massive mobilization involved 16 million men and women, of whom 2.1 million are still alive.

5.Global war on terror
Global War on Terror(2001- ): Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have involved 1.4 million military personnel.

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