Standing Up for our Veterans at “Stand Down Day”
Recently I had the privilege of participating in the Connecticut Veteran’s Administration’s annual “Stand Down Day” at the Veteran’s Home in Rocky Hill.
Connecticut’s “Stand Down Day” is a one-day event that offers medical screenings and assistance to veterans by helping them apply for benefits and entitlements with local, state and federal government agencies, private groups, and veteran organizations. The objective is to provide services for those veterans who have not been able to have the benefits of our society…a society for which they sacrificed time, and in many instances, blood and tears.
My wife Margaret and I participated as volunteers with Salvation Army. It was a very inspiring and humbling experience. Most of the individual veterans we met were positive, upbeat people. It was apparent, in many cases, that life had not been kind to them. They did not let that destroy their spirit. The Salvation Army staff offered the opportunity for prayer requests. Almost all their prayers were for someone else—family members or friends. They even prayed for the volunteers! Their “military team spirit” permeated the event. It was inspiring to see them help each other as they traveled from tent to tent. All were concerned that their “fellow soldier” got what was needed. Sharing was the “order” of the day!
For a society that has so much, I find it hard to see these men and women experiencing such a difficult time adapting after serving in the military. They served our country selflessly. In addition to our gratitude, they deserve all the assistance they need to re-enter society, particularly the work force.
Our family has been somewhat fortunate in the re-entry process after their military service. Ten members of our next generation (nine Army and our Air Force daughter) have recently served or are presently serving in the military. They have been or are deployed to the Middle East or Asia. Those who have completed their service appear to have made the transition back to civilian life reasonably well. The hidden scars of combat are hard to see, however, and may not manifest for several years. We have Vietnam War veterans in our family, and they do struggle.
Support and assistance for our veterans is a cause that is dear to our hearts. We feel our veterans deserve our thanks and our help. It was an honor and a privilege for us to have the opportunity to serve them on “Stand Down Day.”