Veterans’ Day: The Life of a Veteran

veterans day

Veterans’ Day: The Life of a Veteran

Veterans Day, a holiday honoring men and women who have served in the US armed forces. It gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. This holiday is celebrated annually on November 11, which is also a date known for the anniversary of the end of World War I.  According to recent statistics there are 19.2 million veterans in the United States. Veterans Day, originally celebrated as Armistice Day, was first issued in 1919 when President Wilson signed the proclamation. Veterans Day was changed to the fourth Monday in October by Congress in 1968, in order to give employees a three-day weekend. President Gerald Ford then changed the date of Veterans Day back to November 11 in 1975. The change began in 1978.

Why Veterans Should Be Honored

The veterans who serve our country are deeply deserving of honor and respect. Veterans have risked their lives so we, Americans could live in a better country. Throughout all our war troubles we have depended on our soldiers to keep our country safe and free. They fight for their country, while also fighting for their lives. Veterans face danger and risk death while their families back home must carry on without them. The life of a military family can be very difficult and punctuated by long periods of separation. Not only are veterans sacrificing plenty for us as Americans, but so do their families.

The Sad Truth About Veterans and PTSD

For many veterans, returning from military service means coping with symptoms of PTSD. Some common experiences may include constantly feeling on edge, emotionally numb and disconnected. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often known as combat stress, occurs after you experience severe trauma or a life-threatening event. The mind and body may be in shock after such an event which causes your nervous system to get stuck. Your nervous system has two reflexive ways of responding to stressful events: mobilization and immobilization. Mobilization, or fight-or-flight, occurs when you need to defend yourself or survive the danger of a combat situation. This may cause for your heart to pound faster, a rise in blood pressure, muscles tightening – increasing your strength and reaction speed. Immobilization occurs when you’ve experienced too much stress in a situation and even though the danger has passed, you find yourself stuck. You can’t seem to move on from this event.

Symptoms of PTSD in Veterans

In the hours or days following a traumatic event, PTSD symptoms may not surface for months or even years after you return from deployment. Below are a few symptoms a veteran with PTSD may develop:

  • Recurrent reminders of the traumatic event, such as distressing thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks of the event. You may experience panic attacks, uncontrollable shaking, and heart palpitations.
  • Extreme avoidance of things that remind you of the traumatic event, like people, places, thoughts or situations. This may cause you to lose interest in everyday activities.
  • Changes in your thoughts and mood, such as exaggerated negative beliefs about yourself or the world. Feelings of fear, guilt, or shame.
  • Being on the defense all the time, jumpy, and emotionally reactive. This may include irritability, anger, reckless behavior, difficulty sleeping, and trouble concentrating.

How To Support Our Troops and Veterans

If you’re looking to honor our troops on Veterans Day or any day, here’s a list of meaningful gestures.

  • Donate to the USO – This organization has been providing welfare, services, and fun activities for troops and their families since 1941.
  • Send care packages – You can form a special bond with one soldier or even several soldiers by sending them care packages full of snacks, toiletries, and DVDs. If you can’t make a full care package, you can donate money toward a care package service or send individual care package items.
  • Donate a cell phone or other technology – Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts used cell phone donations.
  • Give calling cards or gift cards – The Army and Air Force Exchange Service shop make it simple for you to buy gift cards and calling cards to be shipped directly to a service person.
  • Write a thank you note – Cards and letters from back home are some important and thoughtful gifts you can send our troops.
  • Invite a service member over for a holiday meal or celebration.
  • Make a charitable donation – Donation that could go toward helping wounded veterans.
  • Contact a local veterans assistance program – You can help a veteran in your community with doing yard work, housework, grocery shopping, or running errands.
  • Display the flag proudly to salute our veterans!

The Benefits of Being a Veteran

Veterans have basic health care and education benefits available to them through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although these benefits alone are substantial, there are numerous other programs that help provide more benefits to veterans and their families. Programs that help ease the financial burden of medical care or other expenses. Through the Aid and Attendance program, many veterans are eligible to receive money to cover the cost of nursing homes, assisted living programs and other long-term care options. Should you choose to take care of an ailing Veteran at home, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers a caregiver support program. Veterans and their family have access to free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offices. Veterans having trouble making their mortgage payments are eligible for repayment assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are hundreds of companies that offer military discounts to service members, retired military, veterans, spouses and their families. Acupuncture for veterans has been hailed by the VA as a viable method to treat not only chronic pain but also as a way to kick an unwanted addiction, such as opioids and other painkillers. Veterans Affairs has recently amended its policy to include acupuncture for veterans under covered services. Get the treatment you deserve at the Golden Acupuncturist clinic by consulting with your primary physician and requesting a referral.