Today is Veterans Day in the U.S., the day men and women who have served in the country’s armed forces are honored. Many wreaths will be laid today at war memorials here in DC and around the country. Parades will lift up local heroes. Our attentions will focus on the 23 million veterans living among us in the United States. How are they doing? Here are some interesting stats on veterans today from the Center for American Progress.
This Veterans Day may be more momentous than others. With two wars still in the balance, here at home the debate continues over whether LGBT servicemen and women can serve openly. A draft of the special study conducted by a Pentagon working group has determined that there is “minimal risk” in removing the ban better known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The advocacy to end the ban is coming from Republicans (Log Cabin, the LGBT Republican group) and Democrats, among others. Servicemembers United keeps tabs on the developments.
Tonight, HBO will broadcast “Wartorn,” a documentary that looks at the history of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the U.S. Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will hear more about PTSD and feel its impact in out communities as more soldiers return to civilian life from Iraq and Afghanistan.
18 veterans commit suicide each day according to the Veterans Affairs Department. Women attempt it more often; men more often succeed.
The VA has set up a Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), on call 24/7. Veterans and family members can chat with trained VA counselors via www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Counselors receive at least 10,000 calls a month.
Yesterday, actor Gary Sinise broke ground for the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. There are over 3 million living disabled Americans veterans according to Disabled American Veterans, an organization I became familiar with during the screenings of “Lioness.”
In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts launched “Operation Homecoming,” an initiative of former chair Dana Gioia, to inspire soldiers from to write down their experiences about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Writers worked with soldiers on basis and veterans hospitals throughout the U.S. An anthology of the writings was published by Random House in 2006.
More information about Veterans Day (the official holiday) is available on the Veterans Administration website, located here.
Today we honor and support our veterans. How do civilians impose a narrative on the men and women who choose to serve — Is that the price of honor? Today may be the day to listen to veterans in their own words. Afterall, it’s their day.