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Veterans Deserve Our Support and Gratitude (Commentary)

Nov 7th, 2014 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

This commentary was written and submitted by Pennsylvania’s VFW State Commander Gary Smith, a Vietnam War veteranThe Pennsylvania VFW is the largest state unit of the VFW in the United States.

Americans may differ on political issues and come from different backgrounds, but we all share one thing: we know that freedom comes at a high cost and those who have paid that cost have given us a tremendous gift. Through their military service, nearly one million brave men and women in Pennsylvania have sacrificed much—and some their lives—for our freedom. They deserve our support and gratitude, and so do their families.

As State Commander of the 92,000-member Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, I hope Pennsylvanians join VFW members in showing our support for these patriots on and after Veterans Day. When you see someone wearing their old military uniform, a ball cap or shirt identifying them as a World War II or Korean War veteran, please give them a firm handshake and a hug to express your thanks.

When you see a Vietnam War veteran proudly wearing a vest or other apparel showing their unit or where they served in Southeast Asia, please follow the VFW’s lead in supporting them, too. Offering the simple words “welcome home” will mean so much to this group of which many were not warmly received on the home front. If you know a veteran of the Cold War era, of military action in Grenada or Panama, or of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, tell them you appreciate both your freedom and their service. They all played an important role in our nation’s freedom story.

When you see younger veterans of service in the War on Terror, thank them for defending our home soil by going after enemies of freedom. Many of them joined the military to participate in our nation’s response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Tell them that you are proud of their service.

Let’s also be thankful for the service of thousands of veterans who served in military operations that were never made public, but which defended America’s interests. In addition, let’s be thankful for those who served in UN peacekeeping areas like Egypt, Bosnia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Kosovo and modern day Korea. They provided a firm foundation of security so freedom could gain or maintain a foothold in unstable international areas.

This collective group of veterans gave America the military might necessary to keep peace through strength.

Please join the VFW in writing your state and federal lawmakers urging them to provide veterans with all the services and benefits they need to live full, enjoyable lives. Many veterans struggle both with physical and traumatic stress issues, and they require considerable resources to manage their life-long challenges. Our nation should be as committed to caring for our heroes when they return to civilian life as it was when we sent them to war.

The VFW hopes that everyone will take time to thank our veterans regardless of when and where they served. Your freedom truly depended on their service. The VFW also hopes that you will express your gratitude and support to Pennsylvania National Guardians, Reserve unit personnel and active duty troops for being part of the 1% of our population who serve in the military. Your future freedom depends on their service.

Our veterans and our military troops keep America the land of the free, because of the brave. The VFW will continue to work at the local, state and national levels to honor, represent and support our brothers and sisters who served—and who serve today—in the armed forces. 


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