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A Veteran's Day Message

| November 10, 2017

Good Morning Friends,

November 11th is the day we as a country have set aside to honor those men and women who have served us in our Military over the years.  Today, we have the honor, privilege and responsibility to acknowledge and thank those who have willingly served and who chose to put themselves in harm’s way for us.  As you may know since the ending of the draft in the 1970’s all of our service members have been volunteers.  We are currently involved in the longest war in our Nation’s history and our Veteran’s have served us well and carried themselves with honor during this period.  As you will read below, it has not been an easy time to be a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine.

I’d like to take a little time this morning and share some interesting tidbits of information with you.  First, I’d like to acknowledge my family members who served:  my dad, my birth father, my ex-father in-law, my wife, my son, my daughter and my brother and my nephew in-law. Adding their service to mine, we have over 100 years of service since 1957.  My brother Travis is the only one still serving. Travis is a Captain in the USMC flying helicopters NC.  

As you may know, we didn’t always have a day set aside to honor our Veterans.  While we recognize that our current Veteran’s Day celebration was based on Armistice Day, and authorized by Congress in 1938, it was not until 1954 that it officially became “Veteran’s Day”.  Unlike Memorial Day which is set aside to honor those fallen in service, Veteran’s Day is set aside to honor all who served, both the living and those who have died. This year is the 99th Anniversary of the Armistice Day form World War I. 

As of last year, we had 18.8 million living veterans of whom 1.6 million are women.  The numbers also show that 54% of living veterans voted in the last presidential election. Over 3.9 million of our Veterans have a service connected disability. Some estimates put those Veterans suffering from PTSD as high as 20% from the last 16 years of war. This war we are in has resulted in more disability claims per veteran than other wars, including WWII and Korea.  Almost 800,000 of the 2.5 million who served have either filed for or received a service connected disability rating. According to the Veteran’s Affairs census map 733,000+/- of those veterans are living in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  This infographic shows a lot of really interesting information: https://www.va.gov/vetdata/docs/Demographics/New_Vetpop_Model/Vetpop_Infographic_Final31.pdf

Did you know that 3,500 of our fellow citizens have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for VALOR against an enemy force. There are currently 77 living Medal of Honor recipients with the most recent being U.S. Army PFC James McCloughan (http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3522/mccloughan-james-c.php )  who was presented in July 2017 for his actions in Vietnam in 1969 and US. Army SGT Gary Rose presented on October 23 2017 for his actions in Laos in 1970 (http://www.cmohs.org/recipient-detail/3523/rose-gary-m.php ). The Congressional Medal of Honor Society does not list recipients as “deceased” but rather “departed”.  We have been officially awarding the MOH for 150 years. The first was awarded to Private Jacob Parrott on March 25 1863. To date there are 14  recipients from the War in Afghanistan and four from the War in Iraq.

This last war we have been in has three very distinct features:  it is the longest war our nation has ever been involved in, it is the first “war” we have been in since the War of 1812 that has been fought by a 100% volunteer force and it is now the largest cohort of Veterans with over 7.2 million. Combine the length of the war, with the small standing force we have been maintaining and add that to the All-Volunteer force and it is easy to see why over 340,000 of our fellow citizens have been deployed to combat for three or more tours, with about 40,000 of those seeing combat on 5 or more tours.

Our Veteran’s served in times of war and times of peace.  We continue to serve our country through both our vocations and our passions.  Many of us have started specific service organizations designed to fill a specific need.  The US Department of Veteran’s Affairs has compiled a pretty comprehensive list that you can download here. We are proud Americans, proud of our country, proud of our branch of service and proud to have been allowed the privilege to serve.

So today, as you go about your business, look around you and find a Veteran to thank. It is not hard to find us.  Just ask a complete strange if they have served.  I suspect before you can ask five folks over the age of 30 you will find one!  For those of you who are receiving this who have served, I salute you!  Have a great Day!  Rudy