Veteran’s Day TL;DR: less thanking, more helping.
As a Navy brat, few things have played a larger role in shaping who I am than my military background. On Veteran’s Day, we’re reminded to thank veterans for their service, and some vets appreciate this. But this can sound like an empty platitude, and in many cases you may be thanking people for some of their most horrific and traumatic experiences.
Instead, here are 5 ways we can all do a better job of honoring veterans:
💥 Celebrate w/o fireworks. 15–20% of veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, and many more suffer from this disorder without an official diagnosis. The loud explosions from fireworks—especially the unexpected backyard variety—can trigger flashbacks and induce panic. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.
🐶 Foster their pets while service members are deployed. Everyone loves those videos of service members being reunited with their dogs, but we don’t see the agony and stress of trying to arrange temporary care on short notice. Organizations like @dogsondeployment connect military pet owners to volunteer boarders. If you can’t foster, they’ll happily take your money.
🚨 Prioritze mental health care. Vets suffer from PTSD at a rate 15x higher than the general population, from depression at a rate 5x higher, and they die by suicide at a rate twice as high. This is unconscionable. Our government has a responsibility to care for our veterans, and we should hold our elected officials accountable. You can also help through organizations like @wwp
🌈 Make the military safe for women and LGBTQ folks. 37% of female veterans and 33% of LGBTQ veterans report having been sexually assaulted while serving in the military. Among lesbian and bisexual vets who identify as female, that rate is 58%. Changing the culture won’t erase their trauma, but it will honor their sacrifice.
🗳 Vote. Vote for people who believe diplomacy resolves conflicts. Vote for candidates who recognize that members of our military are people, not pawns. Vote for women, vote for veterans; vote for people who know how to compromise. And after you vote for them, stay on top of them. Look alive.