“I looked at my life, all the physical abilities I had been blessed with-and I felt as though I didn’t deserve it. I knew I was able bodied, healthy, and that other people could potentially benefit from my service. I knew I had to serve, for all the people who couldn’t. For all the people who didn’t have a choice in previous wars. If I am lost, I know it will be for a purpose much greater than myself.”
– Connor Sheridan, current Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Freedom is a tenuous concept. At times, it may seem limited, but the freedom we do have is owed to those who have fought so valiantly for it. Our reverence for veterans should not only be limited to Veterans Day; we must honor those who have fought every single day. We must practice gratitude for the individuals who have put themselves on the line for this country, and not allow them to flounder inside a broken system.
Right now, there are over 22 million veterans in the United States, and an alarming amount are not receiving the proper care or attention they deserve. Roughly 40% have a service related disability while about 9% live in poverty. The Department of Veteran Affairs approximates that 13% of the overall U.S. homeless population are veterans with 50% experiencing severe mental illness and 75% struggling with substance abuse. These statistics are harrowing and highlight bureaucratic failure at all levels.
In addition, many veterans have been on the precipice of potential destruction and now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This disability takes captive of your mind and body with somatic sensations, horripilating flashbacks and night terrors, inter alia. A potential known combatant of PTSD is cannabis, yet Republicans recently shot down a bill that would allow veterans access to medical marijuana. The government our vets have fought to serve would still prefer to throw prescription meds at them, despite alarming side effects and high price points.
The current state of affairs for veterans is heartbreaking, but it doesn’t mean we are powerless to do anything. Veterans—we stand with you because you stood for us when we needed it. You have seen things that some of us couldn’t imagine, you have endured nightmares and terror, you have experienced evenings where you were unsure if you would see the rising sun. You have fought, and some have fallen, but your sacrifice and valor should never be forgotten—not even for a minute.
While asking for monetary donations seems minimal when held against the magnitude of the current situation, donating to these organizations serves to put a dent in the dilemma and let these warriors know we care about them—their mental health, their physical body, and their unbreakable spirit.
Verified Charities for Veterans:
- AMVETS: Founded in 1948, a national 501(c)3 Veteran Service Organization
- Fisher House Foundation: 305,000 Families served since 1990, 72 houses in operation, providing $360 Million in savings to families since 1990
- DAV (Disables American Veterans) Charitable Service Trust: 96% of the charity’s total expenses spent on the programs and services it delives
- Hire Heroes: Transforming Military Service into Civilian Success
- Operation Homefront: “Building strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.”
- Grow for Vets: Helps provide free cannabis and support for Veterans.