Veterans Day: 10 Ways to Thank a Veteran Year-Round

A MacDill Air Force Base color guard at the base Veterans Day Ceremony Tuesday.

It might be a little late to attend a Veterans Day parade or visit a National Cemetery on this Veterans Day. Yet, that doesn’t meant it’s too late to “Thank a Veteran.” Here are some suggestions on how to do that from

  1. Did you know November is also Military Family Month? By thanking the family, you thank the Veteran. Family Matters Blog: Nation Celebrates Military Family Month
  2. Nearly 40 percent of our veteran population is 65 or older, give a veteran your phone number and ask them to call if they need help around the house.
  3.  Teach your children a patriotic song, like America the Beautiful or the Star Spangled Banner. Instill patriotism early.Offer a Military Discount year round and include veterans.
  4. Businesses: Offer a Military Discount year round and include veterans.
  5. Teachers: Invite a Veteran to speak at your school, in a class room or to the entire school.
  6. Clean out your closets and contribute gently used household goods to Vietnam Veterans of America.
  7. Do a random act of kindness for a vet or their family. Remain anonymous.
  8. Open up your house on Thanksgiving or another holiday to a few veterans (active-duty or prior-service) that don’t have any family in the area. Make it a holiday none of you will forget.
  9. Visit Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Wall, or any of the other War Memorials on your next trip to DC.  (The Vietnam Wall and Future Generations)
  10. Volunteer at a VA Medical Center.

Veteran Rex Temple Still Dealing with Afghanistan Tour

SMSgt. Rex Temple shortly after his return from a year in Afghanistan in April 2010.

On this Veterans Day, I catch up with Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple. We first met in May 2009 just days before he deployed to Afghanistan. Rex had started a blog, Afghanistan: My Last Tour, and agreed to  include a weekly radio series for WUSF 89.7FM, the National Public Radio affiliate for the Tampa Bay region.

Temple used Skype and morale phones to communicate and he never missed a week, unless he was on a mission. He took listeners inside makeshift Afghan schools, along the winding, mountainous roads and through congested intersections in Kabul. He introduced us to Afghan Army officers, women and men, and to members of his team.

Temple returned in April 2010 after his year-long deployment with an Embedded Training Team and retired June 1, 2011 after 28 years of military service.

But, as he told me during a radio interview earlier this week, he’s still dealing with incidents and images from Afghanistan.

REX TEMPLE: There were some things that we didn’t talk about on the radio, things that I didn’t write about. Things that I saw that at the time – it didn’t bother me then but when I came back. At night, I did, I had some nightmares. I had some of these flashbacks, but I reached out and I got help and I’ve been going through therapy now for a year for some of those things.

BOBBIE O’BRIEN: You’re finding you’re not alone there aren’t you?

TEMPLE: I think the hardest thing was to admit, okay, there’s a problem here, that this isn’t right, but there was also a fear of reaching out and asking for help.

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Veterans Jobs Package Passes Senate, Now in the House

Image courtesy of the Bay Pines VA website.

Almost a quarter million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are out of work. A Senate bill passed just in time for Veterans Day would provide tax breaks of up to $9,600 to private employers who hire them.It’s now up to the House.

Scott Horsley, White House correspondent for National Public Radio, writes that the tax credits are the first sliver of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs package to actually win bipartisan approval in the Senate. Obama says service members who fought for their country shouldn’t have to fight for jobs when they come home.

Employment chances for returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan also was the topic of a conversation between Veteran Affairs Secretary Gen. Eric Shinseki and Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep.

Returning Florida National Guardsmen have an unemployment rate among recently returned soldiers of more like 16 percent, according to the Florida Army National Guard. And wounded veterans have a nationwide unemployment rate over 40 percent according to a Florida Sun Sentinel article which also finds veterans skeptical that the Veterans Jobs Package will help.

Veterans Day: How Do You Define Who Is a Veteran?

Photo courtesy of the VA website.

Who are veterans? They are our next door neighbors, our co-workers, our family members.

An essay by a Navy veteran who saw no combat questioned if she should be considered a veteran in the same breath as a WWII seaman who served on a PT boat in the Pacific.

Alison Derr wrote:

There are very few words that catch me quite like “Veteran”. It’s such a short word, but in today’s world, it means so much and identifies a person in just seven letters.

So, we asked how you define who is a veteran. Here are a few of the responses:

From Motorcycle Enthusiast:

If you have a DD 214 you stepped up to the plate regardless of duty station or MOS.

From Lisa, Veteran U.S. Army:

General Douglas MacArthur gave his famous farewell speech to the cadets of West Point on May 12, 1962 where he spoke about “duty, honor, and country”. I believe his words speaks volumes of the word “Veteran”.

“And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead?  Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory?  “Their story is known to all of you.  It is the story of the American man-at-arms.  My estimate of him and her (sic) was formed in the battlefields many, many years ago, and has never changed.  I regarded him (her) then, as I regard him now as one of the world’s noblest figures-not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless.    “His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen”.  In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give.  He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man.  He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast”.

General Douglas MacArthur, May 12, 1962

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