Honor the holiday

Honor the holiday


As we prepare for all of the fun activities typically associated with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, many of us also intend to honor the true meaning of the holiday by attending parades and memorial services for Americans who paid the ultimate price defending our country. That’s a good thing. However, we should also consider the struggles that so many of our surviving veterans continue to have long after they’ve returned home from service.

Last weekend, the Northport VA held a “Stand Down for Veterans” program, where volunteers assisted the many vets who turned out to receive help with everything from finding a job, a home, and in some cases, even a haircut. It was a sobering experience for at least one local teen that volunteered there. Her observations appear in a poignant Letter to the Editor this week.

It seemed unbelievable to the writer that those who made sacrifices for their country would have to face so many hardships and that so few Americans seem to be aware of their plight. It’s a reality though, that is played out every day, especially here in Suffolk County, home to the largest veteran population in New York State and the highest percentage of homeless vets.

Though some advances are being made through government programs to remedy a number of difficult situations for them, clearly not enough is being done.

The truth is, America’s veterans not only need better government services; they need the help of all Americans as well. They want our appreciation and compassion for sure, but they also require our intervention, especially those vets who are currently wrestling with the traumatic aftereffects of war. And that’s why everyone should be supporting veterans services organizations and offering assistance with their work whenever possible. 

That would be another important way to honor the meaning of Memorial Day.