This November 12th, we commemorate Veterans Day – a time to give thanks to those who have served in our armed forces. These brave men and women valiantly answered the call when their country needed them most, leaving behind friends and family to risk everything in the name of freedom. On the ground, in the sea, and in the air, they trained and fought for the traditions and ideals upon which our nation was founded – and that continue to make it a shining beacon across the globe. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these courageous defenders of our liberty.
While it's important to honor those who have already served, we should be careful not to forget the young Americans who continue to put themselves in harm's way. These servicemen and women freely volunteer to defend our nation in some of the world's most hostile environments. They do not do so for reward or recognition, as most could pursue far more lucrative careers in infinitely more comfortable settings here at home. Instead, they opt for a path that often takes them far from their families to face dangers, so that we at home can live a little more peacefully. Some even confront this struggle over and over again through multiple deployments.
When they do return home, our veterans sometimes face a whole new set of challenges. Some bring back sustained injuries from the battlefield and some return with invisible scars that can make the transition to civilian life frustrating and even overwhelming. Settling back into the community and returning to a normal family routine is not always easy for these veterans, as they too often find themselves surrounded by people – even those who love them dearly – unable to properly understand their experiences in war.
We must not let them confront this struggle alone.
For decades, our country has ensured that veterans receive a range of benefits when they return, including affordable healthcare and the education and training they need to secure meaningful employment. These programs are especially important today as our nation welcomes back a new generation of veterans returning from the Middle East to an extremely challenging economic environment. But there is only so much the government can do – often, the most important support these veterans receive is from their communities.
That's where we come in. This Veterans Day, I hope you will take a moment to show your gratitude to these heroes. I hope you will make it a priority to personally thank a veteran for his or her service, to attend one of the many parades across Arizona, or to simply teach others about the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. You can also show your gratitude by donating to, or by signing up to volunteer for, one of our country's many veterans charities.
We should be thankful to live in a nation that inspires so many to forgo lives of comfort in favor of the rigors of conflict in service of their countrymen. November 12th is a special day to remember these brave soldiers and to honor their service, but it should also remind us of the importance of letting them know that they are not alone when they return – that those for whom they sacrificed so much are there to support them.
Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees.