This Friday is Veterans Day, and if you don’t have close friends or immediate family who have served in the military, it may seem like just another day. I know that as a young child, I couldn’t have cared less about any holiday that wasn’t Christmas or Halloween. But as I’ve gotten older and begun to understand the sacrifices that my extended family members have made while serving, this holiday has taken on new meaning. And the more I understand, the more it upsets me that so many of our veterans end up struggling financially, mentally, and socially, upon returning home. There are about 50,000 veterans who are homeless1, rates of PTSD in veterans are twice those of civilians2, and we lose an average of 20 to suicide every day3. One of the biggest problems is the lack of coordination among services that are offered to military veterans, and I was pleased to learn that this is where United Way has stepped in. I only recently found out about MISSION UNITEDTM, which was created by a veteran working with United Way in order to help other veterans “navigate the complex system of services available to them.” I read some the stories on the MISSION UNITED webpage, and I was amazed and inspired by the transformations that this initiative has been able to facilitate (I encourage you to check out the site!). Personally, I would love to see it expand to even more communities across the U.S., so that we can bring down those statistics and take better care of our neighbors, friends, and family members who have served. So while Veterans Day can be a sobering holiday, it can also be hopeful- and I’m hopeful that we can improve the lives of those who have sacrificed.
1 National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/fact-sheet-veteran-homeless...
2 Annals of Epidemiology. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.annalsofepidemology.org/article/S1047-2797(16)30034-5/abstract
3 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2016). Retrieved from https://va.gov/opa/publications/factsheets/Suicide_Prevention_FactSheet_...