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Our veterans deserve more than thanks
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Forsyth County News

Maybe one year we will be able to celebrate Veterans Day with the knowledge that American soldiers are not risking their lives on a battlefield.

But not this year.

Maybe one year we will be able to honor those who serve in the nation’s military without worrying that the sabre rattling from some distant land will again lead to deployment and sacrifice.

But not this year.

Maybe one year the families of our enlisted forces can enjoy the parades, salute the flags and join in singing the national anthem without being afraid that the next set of orders will put a loved one in harm’s way.

But not this year.

This year, as in so many past years, we recognize our veterans on Nov. 11 while we are at war, though the battlegrounds of distant Middle Eastern countries sometimes seem to be forgotten as we squabble over political ineptness, a weakened economy and the looming disaster of Obamacare.

The 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918 marked the official end of hostilities with Germany in World War I, and thus is a fitting time for us all to pause and remember the debt owed to those called to the service of their country.

But nothing we can do on that day is enough to honor those who have given so much in service to so many.

As a nation, one thing we can do to show appreciation for our veterans is to make sure that those who have completed their military service get a helping hand as they return to civilian life.

The unemployment rate for veterans of the Gulf War conflicts since 2001 is at 10.1 percent, up from 9.7 percent a year ago. For women veterans in that group, the jobless rate is 11.6 percent.

Those numbers are too high. We need to do more to help veterans find jobs after their enlistment is done, need to do more to train and educate and prepare them for a role in the workplace, need to do more to help them make the transition.

We also need to do more to make sure the commitments we as a nation have made to all our veterans are fulfilled. That means providing adequate medical care, and not the bargain basement variety that comes from slashed government budgets. That means funding for promised educational and training programs.

That means never forgetting who they are what they have done for an often ungrateful nation.

Maybe one year we won’t need those willing to sacrifice their personal dreams, their mental and physical health, their families and even their lives for the good of the nation.

But not this year.