Honoring those who gave their lives to protect the United States is the legacy of Memorial Day and part of our integrity as a nation. We pause to reflect on the cost of our freedom by recognizing those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Today, an increasing number of servicemen and women survive combat and live among us with debilitating physical and mental wounds. As federal funding for veterans support programs is reduced, it’s up to local communities and grassroots efforts to help close the gap of their care. Of the findings in our recent summit with the USC School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation & Research, none were more startling than the sense of detachment from society our veterans reported feeling.
This is a solvable problem.
Working with and supporting veterans is such an enormous part of my life but I never forget that most Americans rarely interact with our defenders. Unless a family member or friend has served or is serving, there is an unfortunate disconnect between the American people and its military. But they are living among us. We pass them everyday in the supermarket, in our commutes, and sometimes—regrettably—living on our streets. These men and women answered the call of service. They protected America, its liberty, and our way of life. And they did so voluntarily. They deserve our honor and our respect. Most of all, they deserve our complete support. They are our everyday heroes and they live right down the block.
Very simply, if every neighborhood in every community in every town and city in every state would make it a priority to seek out, identify, serve and address the needs of the veterans and military families within those communities, we will have the problem solved.
As we prepare to honor those who have fallen, let us also remember those we still have the privilege to thank personally. They are everyday heroes not only because they protected our everyday freedom, but because they deserve our salute each and every day.
This Memorial Day, I urge you to reach out to the veterans and military families in your community, introduce yourself, and express your thanks. Offer your assistance wherever and however it may be needed. Join the Gary Sinise Foundation and let’s help close the gap in the veterans’ care. As citizens, it’s the least we can do in gratitude for the remarkable sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf.
God bless you and yours this holiday weekend.