Personal Development

3 simple ways you can show appreciation this Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a U.S. holiday, but not a barbecue and fireworks kind of day. It’s not a gift-giving occasion either. It’s a day to remember, to respect, and to be thankful for sacrifices made by service members and their families for their country. Let me suggest a few ways you can show your appreciation this Veterans Day:

1. Seek to understand.

There are 18.2 million veterans in the U.S. today, which is less than 7% of the total population. Have a conversation with a veteran you know. They have a variety of unique experiences with some similarities, since veterans share many common bonds.

One hundred percent of those who served left home, left their families, friends and communities, and went through rigorous training to prepare for combat to protect and defend our nation.

Don’t be afraid of veterans who are homeless or who are missing a limb. They all have a story. Some will share it, some won’t. I have found that often they don’t view their circumstances as a disability, but just another challenge to be overcome, or an opportunity to excel.

The good news
Most veterans go back to work, get jobs, go to college or start new companies. About 25% of veterans become entrepreneurs. Service members gain maturity and valuable life experience from their time in service and bring that perspective to their communities.

Even vets who only serve one tour of duty learn discipline and life skills such as teamwork, being on time, keeping themselves “squared away,” and they understand how to serve a cause bigger than themselves.

The bad news
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is real. It shows itself at different times and in different ways to all types of people. If you meet a veteran who may have PTSD, don’t judge. Be supportive.

Veteran suicide is twice the rate of the civilian population at 30 per 100,000 compared to 17 per 100,000 among the general population.
There are 40,000 homeless vets. The causes of PTSD, suicide and homelessness vary by individual and individual circumstance. There is no single cause and effect – so treatment is likewise not straightforward, but many are working to solve these serious challenges.

2. Thank veterans for their service.

I am grateful when someone thanks me for my service to my country. Although I am also humbled because I know there are many veterans who sacrificed and suffered a lot more than I, it was a privilege to serve with many wonderful men and women who made great contributions to our nation. I appreciate the sentiment.

3. Remember their families.

There are about three times as many family members as service members and veterans.

I remember how hard my mother cried when my brother left to go to Vietnam. Although his orders changed later, Mom thought that might be the last time she would ever see her son alive. I’m guessing about 18 million mothers have felt the same way.

Military spouses also have a difficult challenge. They keep the home fires burning, pay the bills, taxi the kids, and hope and pray for a safe return. Like the spouses of first responders, their deployed service members are never guaranteed a safe day. Family members also make huge sacrifices. Thank them too.

To you citizens and taxpayers, thank you for your support. To all my brothers and sisters in the military – I was proud to be on your team. Thank you for your service.

 

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A leader’s guide to being wrong
The rules for survival

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Michael Malone About the Author: Michael Malone

Michael Malone has spent more than 41 years in the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve. He has been a CEO and senior executive in several technology companies, and has been a Vistage Chair since 2005. You can learn more about becoming …

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