Thank you to America’s veterans

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, November 11, 2009

By Staff
This article is a revised version of one I wrote 11 years ago for The Brewton Standard for Memorial Day. I’ve had so many requests that I run it again, that I felt rather obligated. So here it is.
Thanks Dad. Thanks Charlie. Thanks Tom, Thanks Uncle A.K. and Uncle Albert. Thanks Anthony and Jane and Dwayne and Jake and Bill. I wish to offer up a most heart felt thank you to all of America’s veterans and current military personnel for your sacrifice and dedication to your country for your past and present military service. Certainly you don‘t receive the credit due you for hard jobs done so well.
Were it not for your dedication, strength, and bravery, our country would certainly not be the only super power  left in the world. Indeed the world would truly be a vastly different place were it not for the U.S. military.
In spite of your great contribution to your country, your country at times has not been nearly so faithful to you. I recently came upon some very interesting facts. In a study by the International Union of Gospel Missions, an association on nondenominational homeless shelters, 33 percent of all homeless men seeking shelter at the organization’s facilities, was a veteran. This figure is very high in relation to the total population. Veterans, according to the Veterans Administration, are estimated to total some 27 million, or about one tenth of the total U.S. population. Another startling fact, also revealed by the study, was the number of Vietnam era veterans frequenting the shelters, who still suffer the effects of post traumatic stress disorder, and recently discharged individuals who are coping with the transition from an ordered military life back into a civilian role. Also recently released information from the Pentagon revealed that some 20,000 soldiers were exposed to a form of nerve gas during the Gulf War, a much higher number than previously thought or admitted to by the Pentagon.
These facts and figures are atrocious. Atrocious because our government seems to be trying to just sweep these people under the rug and out of sight. Why are these heroes and champions of freedom, being tossed aside and abandoned by the very country they fought for, and sometimes, died for? Why is it so difficult for the U.S. government to institute programs to help these vets?
It is indeed time for us as a nation, to come to the aid of our veterans. Write to your congressman and tell him that you support any effort to create specific programs dealing with the problems faced by veterans and military personnel. Tell the veterans in your life how much you appreciate them and their service to the United States. A nice pat on the back goes a long way.
A special note here for all you Vietnam vets. Although you fought a very unpopular war, and were certainly not treated as heroes by most of the folks at home, and were even at times called some most unpleasant things, I personally wish to tip my hat to you and say, “Heck of a good job, folks.” You did a tough job and came home to a very unappreciative nation and you didn’t deserve that. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the cream of the crop and you’ll always have my deepest respect and admiration
Additionally, I’d like to say just how proud my wife and I are of our son, Wes, who is currently serving with the 217th MP Company in Bagdad, Iraq. Love ya and miss ya, son. Stay frosty and take care of yourself.
Let’s all become advocates for veterans. And again, thanks for a job well done.
Don and Sheila Odom
East Brewton

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