Veterans Day is a time to honor and thank those who have served in the U.S. armed forces for their sacrifices to our nation. Wherever their service took them — from the fields of Yorktown and Gettysburg to the skies over Berlin and Hanoi; from the waters of the Leyte Gulf to the hills of Khe Sanh and Kandahar — the men and women of America’s uniformed services have dedicated their lives to protecting our rights and freedoms, often at great cost to themselves.
For our troops serving around the world and those transitioning out of the military, our obligations are only beginning. America puts no limits on the sacrifices expected of our uniformed services; as Americans, we have a reciprocal obligation to ensure rewards for career service are commensurate with sacrifice.
This year, I am deeply proud and honored to represent MOAA at the Veterans Day White House breakfast and at the Veterans Day National Observance at Arlington National Cemetery. I will be joined by the MOAA color bearer team from our Heritage Chapter in Fredericksburg, Va., along with the MOAA wreath-laying team from the Mount Vernon Chapter of Northern Virginia.
Many observe Veterans Day by simply flying the flag at home, having a picnic or cookout with friends and family, or reflecting on the values of commitment, reliability, and loyalty learned from military service. My hope for you this Veterans Day is that you will spend time with people close to you and your fellow veterans to celebrate your military service and share your stories. I encourage you to watch the Veterans Day commemoration on television, take a walk through your local veterans’ cemetery, or tour local memorials and monuments that are in some way related to the service and sacrifice of veterans. Or you can spend part of the day volunteering at a local VA hospital or even just chatting with fellow veterans. Take the time to listen and learn from these brave men and women and appreciate the gift of freedom bestowed on each of us by their sacrifice.
Of course, our work honoring veterans does not end on Veterans Day. There are nearly 22 million veterans in our country today, and more than 200,000 servicemembers will be leaving military service annually for the coming years to reintegrate into their local communities and assume the responsibilities of good citizenship. These transitioning veterans and their families are not asking for parades or public recognition. However, they do appreciate support during their journey from uniformed service to successful civilian careers.
On behalf of MOAA Chairman Gen. Jack Sheehan, members of our board of directors, more than 400 state councils and local chapters, and nearly 370,000 members, I offer our sincerest gratitude and say thank you for your selfless service to our nation. Our pledge to you is to “never stop serving.”
Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret)
President and CEO
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