What Does It Mean to Love Our Veterans? hand holding heart with camo background and veteransmatter.org logo

I remember taking an aptitude test, administered by the U.S. military, my junior year of high school. It revealed I had a fair knack with mechanical things. This was not surprising as much as the new idea of a career in the armed forces. Despite my lack of firm occupational direction at that time, entering the Air Force (which is where I leaned during this brief notion) had not been on my list. Eventually, I dismissed the idea for myself – my issue with living a disciplined life was already evident in my need to lose weight before I could realistically apply to join.

Perhaps you, like me, entertained but never committed yourself to serving your country in the military. Perhaps, for various reasons, it was never even an option. Perhaps you are a veteran, or are actively serving. Together, we are Americans, each in our roles of working, serving, and enjoying our freedoms.

We know we owe these freedoms to generations of brave men and women. We’ve all pledged our allegiance to the same basic ideals. We recognize the ultimate sacrifices on Memorial Day, celebrate our shared independence on the Fourth of July, and say ‘thank you’ to veterans known and unknown, near and far, on Veterans Day.

We are outraged to hear of mismanagement that jeopardizes care for veterans. We are shocked by the soul-shattering statistic that 22 veterans a day – yes, a DAY – commit suicide. We can all agree that the words ‘homeless’ and ‘veteran’ don’t belong together, even less the fact that one in seven unhoused people are former service men or women.

But these are all reactions to problems which have existed for a while now, problems that will continue to exist until we all come together in more than just words and observances. The great news is a foundation has been laid to solve each one of these problems – changes in the VA to correct mismanagement from a new Secretary, the ‘Clay Hunt’ Act to stem the tide of veteran suicide, and an unprecedented concerted effort by the VA, HUD, and the Obama administration, along with communities across the nation, to virtually eliminate veteran homelessness.

Love is a Verb

It’s all happening NOW. Now is the moment to truly support our troops. The time for cards and care packages during war is dwindling; the time for creating a ‘home’ to come back to is overdue. Like my dad always told me, “Actions speak louder than words.” Or, if you prefer the way our founder Ken Leslie has put it, “Compassion without action is just a word.”

We know many folks are struggling themselves; it’s not always an option to give out of a nearly empty wallet. Trust us, our veterans understand hard times. Yet just like not all of us can (or did) serve in the military but all of us are capable of rallying to support those who can and did, we can still take any number of actions:

  • Contact elected officials to let you know you support their commitment to veterans on every level
  • Share facts with others about the issues facing veterans and encouraging them to do their part
  • Learn more about the solutions for these issues – and others – and advocate on behalf of veterans to push good solutions forward
  • Subscribe to our RSS feed and/or our email newsletter, and share what comes your way with those who might find it interesting
  • And, for those who are able, donate here – knowing that what you give gets veterans off the streets, out of shelters, and into a warm home… just the start of a new life for them!

Those are just a few ways that together, we as Americans, can take roles of bringing the change our veterans need. Let’s not just say we love our veterans, let’s actually love them back to health and home with our action-filled compassion!