Thought I would share an article I wrote in 2012 in honor of those who serve our country. It was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect that ended the fighting to what was called "the war to end all wars" (World War I). It was also known as “The Great War,” and officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919 in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. The complete History of Veterans Day is presented at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs official website and tells the story of its evolution and what we have come to celebrate every November 11th. The important "purpose of Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good." Whether serving in the armed forces via conscription (the "draft" which Congress abolished in 1973 at the end of the Viet Nam War) or voluntarily, a service was provided, and often under the harshest conditions and circumstances. Many who dedicated time, effort and sacrifice deal with innumerable challenges as a result of experiences fighting wars on foreign soil while perhaps most of us are comfortable in our environments and only read or hear the news that keeps us updated on military activities. Generally, unless we have a loved one deployed, or involved in political activism against military involvement, we are pretty much otherwise engaged in daily life with our own challenges that don't include weaponry, facing the enemy, or fighting to survive the unknown and potential death. I think the key word for me in all of this is "sacrifice," which means giving up the comforts of home, joining forces to fight for a cause (whether some believe in it or not), and being a part of the effort that contributes toward freedom and the continued safety and security of our country. It is said by some that our freedom is a result of what is embedded in our U.S. Constitution, and not dependent upon existence of any military force, but I ask this ... if we are just reading words on a doctrine, how is that action ensuring the freedom and safety of the citizens of the United States? The United States Armed Forces have been an integral part of preserving those freedoms that are written and embedded in the U.S. Constitution (created Sep 17, 1787 and effective Mar 4, 1789). Prior to that, if our freedom and safety were secure without military intervention, then I think it's safe to say that things would have been quite different if we weren't forced to fight the American War of Independence (1775-1783), as well as defend ourselves against the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (a U.S. Military base in Hawaii) on Dec 7, 1941, which led to the United States entering Word War II. There have been several wars and conflicts over time that all don't agree with, but when the freedom and security of our nation is at stake, then more than reading words in a legal doctrine is required to protect the rights guaranteed by that doctrine. With the continued advancement of technology, we now find ourselves involved in a different kind of war that invites not only vigilance, but an involvement from a position of action that requires (again) more than just reading words in said doctrine. The history of the United States Military dates back to 1775, even before the Declaration of Independence when we had to defend our new nation against the British Empire in the American Revolutionary War. I bring all of these facts to light because if we were a nation who from the beginning was able to just depend on the words that are printed in a doctrine to enjoy freedom and security, then there would have been no need to even develop a military force. As a nation, we have given thanks to many over the years who have made major contributions in the name of humanity, peace, and freedom that keeps us strong as a country. No system is without flaws, but dedication, determination and certainly patriotism have been at the forefront of those who have made sacrifices on our behalf. The U.S. Veterans are no exception, and have earned their rightful place to be recognized and supported for their service, and not forgotten. There are holidays that celebrate many things, and Veterans Day is one such holiday in which we openly give thanks to our U.S. Veterans for their service. However, support needs to extend beyond just one day a year as it relates to benefits and services that are required to assist returning Veterans who are in dire need based on any number of personal circumstances that often includes grave injuries that are debilitating and challenging. It doesn't stop there though, because the dynamics of war can have long-term negative effects that make it quite difficult for some to assimilate back into civilian life after their military service. For others, it's a matter of receiving benefits and services that are due to them as a result of their military employment that frequently takes far too long to disburse. Military combat personnel put their lives on the line every day, and some more than others, but there are also those U.S. Veterans employed in non-combat positions who do the work necessary to support all military activities. Without a military force to stand against those who wish to destroy our freedoms, life would be quite different today. Many organizations have been created in an effort to support returning U.S. Veterans, and while I can appreciate that our own U.S. Government provides certain key benefits, the disbursement of such doesn't seem to be as quick or as extensive as deploying troops to serve in the front lines that puts them in a state of need to begin with. I would encourage people to check out their local U.S. Veteran organizations to see what they can do to lend support. Sometimes it's just a matter of having someone to talk to, because that can foster a different kind of healing as well. Veterans Day may be a single day in the year to give thanks and celebrate our U.S. Veterans, but there are 364 other days in the year that give us an opportunity to continue celebrating and supporting their needs that I feel are quite deserving given the circumstances. Reaching out to just one person can make a difference. Thank you to all of our men and women who have served, and to those who continue to serve.