Most people know that Veteran’s Day is a day to honor and celebrate the veterans of this great nation. However, did you know that there is so much more to the meaning of this day? Let me explain what I mean by this.
First, I want to give you the definition of a veteran (in terms of the VA). A veteran is someone who served on active duty for more than six months while assigned to a regular U.S. armed services unit.
How it started
Veteran’s Day originally started as Armistice Day. It originally was a day dedicated for reflecting on those who died in service to the country during World War I. November 11th is the anniversary of the signing of Armistice.
So, what is Armistice?
Armistice was a formal agreement between the parties of World War I to stop fighting. This truce allowed for resolutions to be made for lasting peace. Armistice took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Hence the reason November 11th became Armistice Day.
When did it change?
Armistice Day changed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. This was done to honor all veterans of all wars. It was changed because by 1954 we had experienced World War II and the Korean War. Armistice Day left the veterans of those wars feeling left out. There has been much controversy over the day in past years with government officials wanting to change the date to a day of the week in October. However, the people fought to still honor November 11th and as you can see, the people eventually won.
What it means to be a Veteran
As a veteran myself, I know that it is an honor having served my country. On days like Veteran’s Day, we get thanked by a lot of people. While it’s sweet, we often do not know how to respond and feel a bit shy about it. That does not mean that you shouldn’t still thank a veteran because you should. Just please understand that many of us will just smile and say a simple thank you back. Most of us carry physical and mental issues from our time in service and struggle with simple interactions. Just be patient but don’t shy away from a simple “thank you”.
Current Veteran Facts
Now that you know the meaning behind the day, here are some facts regarding veterans in the U.S.
- There are an estimated 20 million veterans in the United States.
- The largest group of veterans are from the Vietnam War which is an estimated 7 million.
- The Gulf War Era is estimated to be around 5.2 million veterans.
- California is home to the most veterans at an estimated 1.7 million.
- Texas and Florida come next with around 1.5 million veterans.
- In 2018 there were 19.6 million veterans, 1.7 million of them were female.
I believe it’s also imperative that I share some information regarding veterans and PTSD. It is almost twice as likely that a veteran has PTSD as someone among the public. A shocking 87% of veterans have been exposed to a potentially traumatic event. You can read more about that here. You can also read about my experience with PTSD on my post Living With PTSD – Overcoming Daily Struggles.
What’s the difference between Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and Armed Forces Day?
Veteran’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor those who have served. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who died in service to the country. Armed Forces Day is the day to celebrate and honor those still serving in the military. Understanding the difference is a big deal to those who have or are still serving. Memorial Day is often a hard day for us as many of us have lost our friends in the wars over the past 20 years.
This Veteran’s Day
No matter your background, if you see a veteran this Veteran’s Day then please say “thank you for your service”. That simple gesture goes a long way for us. They may be awkward in their response but it’s not because they don’t appreciate it, it’s simply because they often don’t know how to respond. Most importantly, I want to thank you for your support because it means the world to those who have and are still serving.
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