The American Legion National Commander’s message in the May addition of the Legion magazine captures the importance of Memorial Day to veterans. It is worth repeating here: “Among veterans, Memorial Day is a time to honor the men and women who did not return home from service; the unexpected buy always-possible circumstances of armed conflict were their fate. It is also a time to consider those who did come home only to discover later that some potentially fatal consequence of wartime service followed them into civilian life. Memorial Day is also for the, the men and women who were exposed to atomic radiation, Agent Orange, burn-pit smoke, and other toxic substances encountered during their time in uniform. Likewise, it is a time to remember veterans who have succumbed to the invisible wounds of war and taken their own lives or put themselves in dangerous situations caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or other service-connected injuries.”
There are few in this community who don’t know someone who has come home for combat with these visible and invisible injuries. Since Vietnam, modern technology and transportation logistics has improved to where an injury on the battle field will see that warrior in a hospital, even stateside, within 48 hours, often less than that. That warrior would have died on the battle field with those same injuries in Vietnam. The hidden cost to this success is the “new normal” for that veteran. That “new normal,” living with the effects of those hazardous exposures or combat stresses, often will mean that veteran paying the ultimate sacrifice. Let us not forget during this Memorial Day that we lose on average 22 veterans a day to the invisible wounds they have carried with them for too long alone. Let this be a time when we renew our efforts to reach out those who are suffering. As our National Commander said “Just as it was a founding principal of The American Legion over a century ago, our efforts to get at-risk veterans the care they need today and a sacred tribute to those no longer among us.”
Veterans Day is November 11th. Let us hope that life will be near normal by that time. This year, the American Legion will be paying a special tribute to veterans, a tribute we ware not able to this Memorial Day. Anyone with suggestions on what this tribute might look like, contact one of the Legion officers or call the Hall.
Please call the Hall (633- 4487) if you know of a veteran family in need during this difficult time.