As I sit here writing this, I celebrate the third Veterans Day since I transitioned from the military. On a day where all of the nation goes above and beyond to thank us for our service, I can’t help but revel in my appreciation for their support.
It hasn’t always been like this, you know. Those who returned home from Vietnam faced a drastically different “welcoming.” But through the years and through the wars our country has unified once again in its backing of our servicemen and women. So with that in mind, below are seven reasons I believe now is the best time to be a veteran of the great United States military.
7 – Healthcare:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “The VA is a hot mess!” But did you know there are more private companies, veteran-supported programs and non-profit organizations dedicated to veteran’s healthcare and research than ever before? From PTSD to suicide to TBI, there are millions of dollars being spent to find cures and increase the level of healthcare available to U.S. veterans. Is there room for improvement? There sure is. Do I think now is the best chance veterans have ever had at rehabilitation? I sure do.
6 – Military Friendly®:
There are hundreds of corporate entities deemed Military Friendly® every year. There are schools all across America building veteran centers on campus. There are employers hiring veterans in record numbers. There are franchises enabling veterans to fulfill their dream of self-employment. And there are cities that encompass all of these, making them the perfect environment for veterans and their families to thrive, long after the military.
5 – Our Veteran Elders:
I don’t know about you, but even after having experienced the military firsthand, there’s nothing like a story from a World War II vet to stop me dead in my tracks. It was a different life, different war, and a different military. Getting to hear the stories direct from the mouths of the generations who served before us is something we will, unfortunately, only have for a few years longer.
4 – Civic Duty:
While most Marines would argue that Ronald Reagan got it right, the Soldier in me would claim this statement applies to all of us:
“Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have made a difference in the world. Marines don’t have that problem.” – Ronald Reagan
Without belittling the drafting of the above-mentioned veterans of prior generations, I’d like to remind you that we joined an all-volunteer military. You are where you are because you had the guts to raise your right hand, and your level of pride is allowed to reflect as such. (Let’s just keep the chest puffing to a minimum, shall we?)
3 – Keeping In Touch:
Not to keep harping on the “older vets,” but another advantage we have to being a veteran in today’s age is good ol’ technology. Now before you go thanking the Internet Gods for all your extracurricular web surfing, let me keep it in context. Staying in touch with those you served with over the years has become easier and more rewarding than ever. Want to see what the Article 15 magnet from your last unit is up to? You can take your pick of social platforms to find out.
2 – Education:
Like I mentioned briefly above, the higher education sector has progressed leaps and bounds in their role of providing education for veterans. GI Bill or not, there are a plethora of additional funding sources making it possible for us to earn college degrees at little to no cost. Unless you’re interested in one of the 12 Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree, I highly suggest taking advantage of the education benefits you’ve earned.
1 – Representation on the Upswing:
Results from the recent mid-term election brought the total number of OIF and OEF veterans serving in Congress up to 22, making this a historic amount of representation in Congress for the post-9/11 community. These new representatives aren’t the stuffy suits in D.C. that everyone is getting fed up with. These were the boots on the ground next to you downrange, the same brothers and sisters who vowed to give their lives for you. If that’s not light at the end of the political tunnel, I don’t know what is.
Don’t forget to check out all of the restaurants that are taking the time to honor our country’s men and women in uniform by serving up meals free of charge on Veterans Day! – 25 Free Meals For Veterans Day