Give Them What They Deserve

There’s Veterans Day, but don’t the sacrifice of our vets deserve more?

Emma Phillips, Sports Editor

For more than 200 years, the brave men and women of our country have put their lives on the line in the name of this land of the free and home of the brave. Hundreds of thousands have taken the call of duty and laid down their lives to protect our democracy. We have today–Veteran’s Day–where we honor their work and sacrifices. But why do the people who serve our country only get one day of celebration? Or at most two, if you count Memorial Day, where those who died in war are often remembered. 

We often uplift communities in the United States with month-long celebrations. We have Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Brest Cancer Awareness Month, to name a few. Keeping this in mind, we need to add a Veteran’s Month to the calendar.

I feel like there are too many people in this country that don’t appreciate everyone who’s put their life at risk for America. We as Americans are lucky enough to have people voluntarily sign up and face death to protect us. These people go through months and months of exhaustive training, dozens of invasive physical and mental evaluations, and the heartbreak of leaving their families for an extended tour, and that’s all before the near-death experiences of the battlefield. Some countries hold drafts and you don’t get the choice to fight or not. Others require mandatory military service from all citizens, whether they want to or not (and not even BTS can get out of this). But America gets by with the largest volunteer standing army in the world, and it’s because of these citizens that no American since World War II has been forced to fight.

Really, American citizens have no expectations to serve their country. Well, that should change: Americans should be expected to honor and respect our troops, and a Veteran’s Month would go a long way to ensuring that will happen.

November 11 currently marks Veterans Day, our only official commemoration of our veterans. Even though it’s a federal holiday, we still have school and very few businesses do more than just post a tweet of support. This is not enough to honor our vets.

(And before it comes up, Memorial Day doesn’t count. Veteran’s Day is NOT the Same as Memorial Day: Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country–not just those who served but political and ideological leaders of America– while Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace, dead or alive. A lot of Americans get this confused, it’s a little annoying to many living veterans.)

Why is honoring our vets with an entire month so important? First, it would remind all of us how important these vets are. True, it has been an American tradition to honor our military on Veteran’s Day ever since it was called “Armistice Day” when it was established after World War I. There have been times when Congress tried to move the holiday, only to face several years of strong public resistance. I’m not suggesting we move Veteran’s Day or add a bunch of additional holidays, but let’s stretch out the celebration of our men and women in uniform past and present to the entire month of November instead of one day.

A day can be ignored or forgotten, but an entire month would force every American to acknowledge our veterans and their service, to acknowledge that they are not fighting for their life on a daily basis like the unfortunate people in Syria, Yemen, or Ukraine because we have people that will willingly do that job. From deployments to the Middle East, building infrastructure in South America, missions in Asia, and more, those in uniform have willingly accepted every challenge presented to them when it comes to protecting our country, our families, our friends, and our freedom. 

This recognition would also bring Veterans more rights. Think what you may about how Pride Month is celebrated (I, like many in our community, have thoughts about it): it has been an effective tool for the LGBTQIA+ community to get social recognition, which has helped them fight for marriage equality and recognition of trans identities in the past decade. Without a whole month of rainbow flags and parades making them visible, we probably wouldn’t all be asking each other about pronouns today. The same holds true for Black History Month: the constant reminder of how Black Americans have improved our country has gone a long way to help with Black acceptance in communities that previously were very segregated.

But why do veterans need this same visibility? Just like these aforementioned protected groups, veterans are currently victims of discrimination and political attacks on their community. We have a Veteran’s Administration that, instead of taking care of our vets, is shown to be ineffective and riddled with scandal time and time again. We have congressmen of both parties voting against bills that help our veterans to gain political points. For every bill like the recently passed Colorado Amendment E that helps the families of veterans, there are dozens of legal cases that uphold the right of insurance companies and similar entities to overcharge vets for care or to deny veterans the care they need. Is it any wonder why veterans make up nearly one out of ten of Colorado’s homeless population?

Veterans don’t just deserve our respect for their sacrifices, but they deserve our care for the scars that war leaves. There are physical scars of course, with veterans allying themselves with the American Association of People with Disabilities to pass laws like wheelchair access and braille for the blind in public spaces. There are also mental scars, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and similar conditions affecting 20% of veterans. In a culture that expects veterans to be extremely tough and never ask for help, it’s difficult to get these people the help they need to live the happy lives they deserve. A Veteran’s Month could change this, as more veterans would be able to share their stories and struggles to a public that’s listening.

Finally, this month would bring back a feeling of respect for the US Military that has been waning over the past few decades. Starting with the American loss in the Vietnam War and continuing to the 20-year War on Terror that only ended last year, lots of Americans conflate war and veterans and the military together. Make no mistake, war is terrible and tragic, and a country should avoid war at all costs. But sometimes war is unavoidable–look at how Russia brought war to Ukraine, leaving them with only two options: fight back or lose everything.

The military and its soldiers are necessary for American security, and even improve the lives of everyday Americans: if you like duct tape, Epi-Pens, microwaves, superglue, GPS, or tampons, thank the US Military, who developed all of these technologies and more. The US Military is still innovating today, aggressively combating climate change by developing better solar panels and electric vehicles to ensure American energy independence at home and overseas.

Yet the Military faces constant criticism for fighting in unpopular wars or spending too much of the country’s budget. This is nothing but bull, as the Military doesn’t pick the wars it fights (that’s Congress) and it has said time and time again that it doesn’t want all the money it gets (but Congress gives them too much money anyway, earmarked so they have to spend it in ridiculous and wasteful ways). While there are valid issues with the Military like literally everything else, what most people have an issue with is how our elected officials use the US Military, then ignore the veterans that survive their tours of duty. A Veteran’s Month would push the media to investigate and report on such stories to fill their Veteran’s Month coverage, exposing these issues and bringing the realities of our fighting men and women to light.

It is critical that we give our veterans more support by expanding Veteran’s Day into Veteran Recognition Month. It’s only right to celebrate and take care of our fellow citizens that sacrifice their time, well-being, and sometimes life and limb to protect our country from foreign threats and aid our communities during natural disasters. In an era of polarized politics, this is something that could bring both sides together, as we all know of someone we love who served.

They gave up so much for us–let’s do this one thing for them.