I extend a Happy Veterans Day to all of those who have served our nation in the Armed Forces. Thank you for your sacrifices in defense of freedom for our great nation. Freedom is not free! According to the latest statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20.4 million or slightly less than 10 percent of Americans have had the privilege to serve in our Armed Forces. So we definitely honor those who have made the commitment to serve in our great military presently and over the years.
I and many Veterans appreciate all of the kind words and gestures or discounts from businesses that we receive during this time of year in appreciation for our services. More often than not, I receive kind words and gestures all year round from Americans of all backgrounds because Americans love our military men and women. As I pondered my message for this Veterans Day, I thought about challenging our nation to put action to our kind words. What if each American decided to show a kind act to a Veteran during the next 30 days? Each day, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs, approximately 20 Veterans commit suicide because they are suffering and can’t see a way out of their situations. Many live in homeless shelters, in desolate situations, and often isolated from their families. Further some are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) which makes them vulnerable to violence or other egregious actions. Ten to 20% of our Veterans suffer from PTSD due to fighting in the wars. The Department of Veteran Affairs has reported that up to 31% of Vietnam Veterans have PTSD.
There is no doubt that PTSD is real and the effects can be deadly. Take the case of the heinous mass murder in Thousand Oaks, California last week. That crime was allegedly committed by a Veteran who was dealing with PTSD. He murdered 12 innocent people at a nightclub, four of which were Veterans or had plans/appointments to enter the military. He then took his own life. According to USA Today, the lone gunman, Ian David Long, posted that “In fact, I had no reason to do it.” Specifically, USA Today quoted him saying, “It’s too bad I won’t get to see all the illogical and pathetic reasons people will put in my mouth as to why I did it,” “Fact is I had no reason to do it, and I just thought…life is boring so why not?” But he did not end there, then he posted the following a few minutes later, “I hope people call me insane (two smiley face emojiis) would that just be a big ball of irony? Yeah… I’m insane, but the only thing you people do after these shootings is ‘hopes and prayers’…or ‘keep you in my thoughts’.” My fellow Americans, this is the tragedy we are dealing with all across America with egregious crimes committed daily with what I termed, American -on -American violence. Indeed, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to the grieving families and thus my call for action. This is simply a small step to honor our Veterans.
If you take this challenge for the next 30 days, I am simply asking that all supporters for our Veterans find one former military member who may be going through a tough time and render a kind act to them. This kind act can be as simple as taking them to dinner, providing them resources monetarily, ensuring they get help by connecting them to local resources if they are living on the streets, getting them to counseling services, or providing housing for them if you have the ability to do so. In other words, I am challenging myself and my fellow Americans to put action behind our words for our Veterans in the next 30 days! The act you take may actually save a life or lives. Will you take the challenge? Reach out and Touch a Veteran!
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Dr. Neyland continues to demonstrate his hands are in the pulse of what veterans struggling need... this is an excellent article and challenge that I’m taking on as a veteran.