For Veterans: Our Gratitude and Promises Kept

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, a time for all of us to recognize and thank the men and women who have stepped up to defend our country since its beginnings. My own father served in the Air Force. I feel immense gratitude for all service members.

Individuals who have served our nation have been in the news lately, heartbreakingly the nexus of tragic and violent events. Too many service members end their tours bearing the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other conditions that directly affect their judgment, relationships with friends and loved ones, and responses to stresses that come up in every day life.

We owe each who serve to protect us a welcome, an embrace back into our peaceful society as they reintegrate into civilian life.  We must honor their closeting of the tools of war within the safety of our military institutions.  We must recognize that every veteran took an oath to make sacrifices on our behalf.  We must, in turn, commit ourselves to address their wounds, both physical and mental.

The psychological toll of military service has been shamefully ignored by our political leaders, who seem more interested in the flag on the casket than the wound in the soul.  In Minnesota, our valiant returning veterans are committing suicide at a horrific rate.  We need to focus on the health of our veterans and their families. 

There is much more we must do here in Minnesota to lead the rest of our nation in providing a standard of care for service members that is high enough to honor their sacrifices.

I urge each of you to reach out to every veteran and their families to express your gratitude in the most humble way, by saying thank you. Do it any time, not just on Veteran’s Day. It’s a start.