Veterans Day is Nov. 11. This important federal holiday honors our nation’s military veterans and is celebrated every year.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there is a historic reason why Nov. 11 was chosen. In 1918, the leaders of Allied nations and Germany signed an armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to end World War I hostilities.
Veterans Affairs also notes that the special day was originally intended to be a celebration with parades, public meetings to honor military veterans, and briefly stopping routine business at 11 a.m. This tradition in regard to community parades and the public recognition of veterans continues today in many locations around the country.
From Armistice Day To Veterans Day
The year after the armistice occurred, President Woodrow Wilson honored World War I veterans by officially declaring Nov. 11 as a commemoration day, according to Building Homes for Heroes. This holiday was initially called Armistice Day and became a federal holiday in 1938.
In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day, notes The American Presidency Project. The name change was intended to honor all military veterans who served in war or peacetime.
How Many Veterans Are in the US?
On Nov. 11, we recognize the people who sacrificed their lives to serve in the military and gives the rest of us a chance to show our gratitude toward the men and women that currently serve in the military to protect our freedom. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were around 16.5 million military veterans in the United States in 2021.
The Challenges Veterans Face after Military Service
Veterans Day serves as an important time for families, friends, businesses, communities, and others to display their appreciation and support for our nation’s military. A focus on veterans should continue throughout the year, however.
[Related: Converting Your Military Experience for the Civilian World]
Despite aid from Veterans Affairs and other support services, many servicemembers struggle with a wide range of mental and physical problems following military service. These problems often lead to substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and homelessness.
The Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) notes that 53% of homeless veterans have disabilities with over half of vets experiencing a mental disability. Similarly, the DVNF says over two-thirds of the homeless veteran population have a substance abuse problem.
Practical Ways to Help Veterans on Veterans Day
Veterans Day serves as an important reminder about the need for care and compassion toward our military veterans. One way you can support veterans is to provide financial support to trusted veteran support services. Other ways you can support veterans include:
- Understanding veterans’ needs
- Going to veteran-owned businesses
- Sending a thank-you card or making a meal for a veteran’s family
- Inviting a veteran to give a speech to schoolchildren
- Sharing resources to veterans who are homeless or experiencing another type of crisis
- Hiring veterans
Hiring veterans is especially useful because veterans have work skills and discipline that can be helpful in non-military organizations. Hiring veterans also provides them with the opportunity to provide for their families, successfully transition out of military service and avoid homelessness.
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