When I started Spirit of America I had never met an active duty member of the military. I’ve gotten to know quite a few since then. The veterans I know the best are the fourteen veterans on the Spirit of America team. They are an extraordinary crew. With Veterans Day on Monday, here are a few observations about those who have served in the military.
No stereotypes fit
There are no stereotypes that fit those who have served. Some could have gone into the highest paying jobs on Wall Street but chose to serve instead. Others got in trouble with the police and enlisted to straighten out their lives.
Veterans come from all parts of the country – Southern California, rural Oklahoma, Washington and South Carolina, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Buffalo. They come from the most humble backgrounds and the most privileged, rural small towns with one stop sign and Silicon Valley’s wealthiest communities. They’ve graduated from high school, community colleges and Ivy League schools.
Some have ancestors that came to America in the 1600s and 1700s. Some are first-generation Americans whose parents immigrated from places like Mexico, Poland, and Colombia. One veteran I know was a refugee from Cambodia and another is an immigrant from Lebanon. Some come from families with long traditions of military service and are fourth or fifth generation Marines or soldiers. Others are the first of their families to ever wear the uniform. Veterans reflect the full spectrum of American society.
The sacrifice of those who serve in combat operations is generally understood but many other veterans have paid a high personal price, too, through multiple deployments, overseas assignments, and training that takes them away from home and family. Their sacrifice is one of the reasons why at Spirit of America we focus on helping service members come home safely and proud of their success.
The veterans on Spirit of America’s team sacrifice, too. Most spend 50-70% of their time away from home, often in dangerous environments where the only other Americans are US Special Operations Forces.
Patriotism without politics
The veterans I know have views that span the political spectrum. Despite their differences they serve and work together to help the country, protect our freedom and make America safer and stronger. None of them thinks America is perfect but they believe in what America stands for and they serve to do something about it. This is patriotism without politics. It’s powerful.
A great way to show veterans your appreciation is to get to know who they are, and how and why they have served. If you don’t know any veterans personally, let me know and you can get to know one of the veterans on our team. I promise it will enlighten and encourage you.
All the best,