Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, commemorated by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. We remember the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month when the Allies defeated the Central Powers and “The Great War” came to an end 100 years ago.
It was thought to be “the war to end all wars.” Sadly, the Second World War followed a couple of decades later, and sadly, we continue.
So we continue the celebration of those who served, and honor those brave men and women, alive and dead who have served our country selflessly during times of war, as well as times of peace.
Personally, I think it is also a good day to recognize the families of veterans as well. The children of service members lose a parent for six months or more during deployments. The spouses are suddenly often thrust into the position of being a single parent. The parents, survivors of everything from the “terrible twos” to dealing with [gasp] teenagers, are once again worrying every day about potential terrible news.
Those who served in the military have in many ways put their lives on hold while their civilian counterparts established themselves economically, politically and even romantically. They have enjoyed the opportunity for travel, but often in perilous locales in unpleasant conditions.
And while technology has made vast improvement in communication, the separation is still terribly long and lonely.
By the way, the word veteran is derived from the Latin “vetus,” meaning old. While the vast majority of veterans in Napa County make that an appropriate epithet, we also have our share of younger veterans who served more recently.
Old or young, the vast majority of veterans share certain traits. They have far more “life knowledge” than their civilian counterparts, having traveled far into very different countries and shared many various cultures.
Veterans have a more diverse skill set and have learned under difficult circumstances to perform critical thought and analysis. Veterans tend to be more reliable and have learned leadership at a far younger age.
I challenge you today to expand your definition of a veteran. Take a few minutes to think of different pictures of who or what a veteran is. The easy caricature is that of a grizzled, old white man. Truth is, we come in all ages and colors. We are part of the rainbow.
I urge my fellow veterans to make it easier for the civilians today. Wear your service cap, or at least one identifying you as a veteran. Maybe even break out the ribbons and put them on. You’ll be amazed at the memories and rewarded by smiles and “thank you for your service”. It feels good.
Take advantage of the many discounts that are offered today, and often throughout the year, by local businesses.
If you have a business that gives discounts or favors to those who served, please call us at 253-4558 and we’ll add you to the list of Veteran Friendly Establishments.
We have the honor of serving the veterans and their families of Napa County. In addition to myself, Dell Pratt and Anais German-Castaneda do all we can to help veterans get the benefits that are due. These benefits range from compensation for injuries or illnesses attributed to military service to educational benefits, healthcare and pensions for vets or surviving spouses. We also create veteran ID cards for those great discounts available all over town!
Do you want to learn about benefits that are available to those who served? Come to our monthly orientation to veterans benefits, held at 1 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at 650 Imperial Way. Call 707-253-4558 to reserve a slot for our either of our next orientations: Nov. 13 or Dec. 11. Interested in meeting with other agencies that serve veterans and their families? Come to Vet Connect, held on the second Thursday of each month from 9 a.m. to noon at 650 Imperial Way. Our next meeting is on Dec. 13.
We thank all veterans for their service, during war or peacetime. Our country is indebted to you. We appreciate your sacrifice, and we honor your determination to preserve this wonderful thing we call freedom. Happy Veterans Day from all of us at Napa County Veterans Services.