While society seems firmly divided these days over politics and policy, appreciation for our veterans still remains strong among residents of Long Beach and elsewhere, whether someone has recently served or did so years ago and is now receiving palliative care.
After all, men and women of the military are asked to serve and defend their country and follow orders, even if there’s disagreement among leaders about the best course of action and what these orders should be.
This month, the staff at Accredited Home Care is encouraging the community take some time to think about veterans and thank any you know for their service in different capacities, whether it was recent or decades ago. We also make the effort ourselves to be appreciative of any of our clients who have military backgrounds
May is National Military Appreciation Month, a federally-designated occasion that celebrates the role of veterans in our lives all month long and also recognizes the collective accomplishments of so many in defending our country.
Though veterans commemorate a number of holidays and anniversaries throughout the year, National Military Appreciation Month includes many in May. The month was officially designated in 1999 based by legislative efforts from then-Arizona Sen. John McCain who hoped to bring more awareness to veteran topics. The former prisoner of war also encouraged all Americans to go out to thank any veterans in their lives.
Part of the effort to improve appreciation for veterans and awareness of their needs should include learning more about them, including how many there are.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2017, there were 20.4 million U.S. veterans, about a 10th of the country’s population.
This figure declined slightly from previous years, partly because a larger group of veterans from the 1940s and 1950s continue to die, and many veterans of newer campaigns are generally younger.
According to the U.S. Veterans Administration, the population of veterans has been projected all the way to 2045. It too sees a gradual decline to around 12 million.
At the same time, military roles are changing, such as the role of women. Though they’ve always been part of branches of the military, it has traditionally been in a support capacity such as nursing or administrative work. But in the last decade, more have been part of combat operations.
The Veterans Administration is also more conscious of the physical and mental needs of veterans. In the past, physical injuries were treated if they occurred quickly. But in some cases, originally minor injuries may become more painful as someone ages.
More attention is also given to mental treatments; as many as 730,000 returning Afghanistan veterans have some mental health conditions such as PTSD or anxiety. Suicide rates are also on the rise.
The Veterans Administration is happy to assist veterans and their families and offer everything from medical assistance to local resources to help to find employment and mental health assistance.
For people who want to look for occasion to let veterans in their community know they’re appreciated, some events coming up can include:
- Loyalty Day Start the month off on May 1 with a celebration of heritage and American freedom. This holiday was created in 1955 but was first celebrated in 1958. Each year there’s an official proclamation by the current U.S. president discussing various important topics and virtues, including the value of patriotism.
- Public Service Recognition Week. This week runs May 5-11 and honors fellow men and women who have helped society, whether it’s through the military or roles or employment as a federal, state, county or city employee. Officials from any of these groups, such as mayors or county commissioners are encouraged to create local proclamations so local individuals will feel appreciated and included in this national act.
- Victory in Europe Day. Although World War II officially ended in August 1945 with the surrender of Japan, the final stages of the war in Europe ended a few months earlier. The Allies succeeded in surrounding and defeating the Nazis. So their unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, is always recognized and celebrated as V-E Day.
- Military Spouse Day. May 10 is set aside each year to honor the role of the spouse. In the past, married members of the all-male army relied on their wives for a great deal of support. But as more women began joining the military in various capacities, their husbands are also celebrated. The spouse’s role can vary depending on posting, rank, and role, but he or she generally can help spread awareness, assist during deployments, and keep hopes high.
- Armed Forces Day. Whatever branch of the service someone is in or when they served, they are all appreciated on May 18 every year. Some communities include local tributes or honors this day for any active, reserve or veterans living nearby.
- Memorial Day. The last Monday of May now tribute to any members of the military who has given their lives for their country. This celebration often includes celebrations at area cemeteries.
Overall, there’s plenty of ways to appreciate veterans, from larger public efforts to more private opportunities where you can say thanks.