Sunday was Veterans Day, the day we honor all of the men and women who have served in our armed forces.
Parades and assemblies are scheduled throughout the Ozarks and the country to honor our military veterans, to give us all an opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who put their own safety on the line to protect our country.
We should all take advantage of the opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone who put their own safety on the line to protect our country to let them know that we appreciate their service.
But there is much more that we can and should do. We know that these soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and women deserve our support, and we have come to realize that they need it in many ways — medical, psychological, spiritual and financial.
Warriors are returning from faraway countries with broken limbs and broken spirits. We send our military into war zones that have little resemblance to the worlds they left behind. We ask them to defend people who don’t always appreciate their presence, often leaving our troops in danger from enemies both known and unknown. The kind of guerrilla warfare and terror attacks they are facing in the Middle East is an apt example of that reality.
Injuries that once killed troops now maim, thanks to better immediate medical care. But that also means a life without a limb or eyes, without the future once embraced, without the assurance that their life will go on as expected, often without the needed funds and support system to see them through.
We see rising numbers of homeless veterans, suicides among returned warriors, drug and alcohol use, broken families, abuse and anger. These are men and women who faced death and danger in a war zone — because they had the support and resources to persevere. We must work to guarantee the same support and resources for them when they return home.
One exciting development is a new Veterans Administration clinic planned in Springfield in 2015 and another in Marshfield next year.
Bringing health care closer to home will help those vets and their families.
The government’s Homeless Veterans Initiative is another important step. Last year, an estimated 144,842 veterans spent at least one night in an emergency shelter, according to the VA. We have seen the proof of that in Springfield. Springfield Victory Mission and Veterans Coming Home are among local agencies that provide assistance to veterans.
Many private organizations have worked to provide needed support to wounded veterans and their families, including Springfield's Our House Foundation.
As a nation and as individuals, we can best honor our military veterans by supporting them through these and other services.
So, on this Veterans Day, we salute our armed forces, thank our veterans and express our support for services to all of the men and women who have willingly volunteered to defend our country.
Copyright Springfield News-Leader. Reprinted with permission.