As our nation prepares to celebrate its 94th Armistice or Veterans Day, it is surprising to find out that there is no standardized legal definition of a military veteran. Generally, each time Congress passed a new law authorizing and creating a new veteran benefit, they included eligibility requirements, for example the Post-9/11 G.I. educational benefits.
Several sources define the veteran as a person who has served in the armed forces or an old soldier who has seen long service.
Both definitions apply to me, however, I prefer the definition provided by an unknown author which says, “A veteran is someone who at some point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an account of ‘up to and including my life.’”
The recent wing appreciation day highlighted the importance and contributions of our veterans.
Unfortunately, for many our only contact with veterans comes while we are shopping at the Base Exchange, commissary or waiting for a prescription at the pharmacy. However, behind the scenes hundreds of veterans are supporting the mission of Luke Air Force Base each and every day; whether fixing aircraft, teaching pilots to fly, maintaining the wing infrastructure, handling administrative actions, or treating patients; these veterans give 100 percent to the effort. If asked, most would say they enjoy what they are doing and love working around other professionals supporting and defending our nation.
Likewise, many veterans continue to work in the local community. For example, retired veterans are highly sought after for employment as K-12 educators. Most school districts jump at the chance to hire veterans as they know these individuals are well-trained, disciplined and offer cultural experiences not found in other professions. Furthermore, many veterans accept positions at local universities where they instruct both officer and enlisted students who are seeking to improve their lives through education.
Similarly, many employers prefer to hire veterans because they understand these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have already developed leadership skills, are battle tested and understand the overall organizational picture, making them the perfect employee.
In addition, many veterans volunteer at local community shelters, polling places, religious organizations, hospitals and charities. Often these organizations could not operate without the help of veterans. Yet, you won’t find them taking credit for the success of the endeavor, just hard working people willing to quietly serve in any capacity.
Moreover, our retirees also support their communities with their financial resources. For example, many veterans continue to support our services organization through club membership, participation in morale, welfare and recreation activities, and shopping on base.
Bottom line, our wing, community and state benefit from the skills, knowledge, experiences and resources our veterans freely give. So the next time you’re visiting one of our wing organizations, downtown voting, picking your children up at school, or taking class, etc., make it a point to seek out our veterans and strike up a conversation. Of course, not all veterans stand out in a crowd, but if you’re lucky enough to engage one in conversation, believe me, you will find a wealth of knowledge, similar perspectives and a positive attitude toward life.