October 26, 2014

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Offer veterans more than thanks, help too PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Hylton   
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:10 PM

Ripley County Veterans Services Officer Ken Hylton, Sunman, spoke at the Dillsboro Veterans Day program Sunday, Nov. 11, at the town's Heritage Pointe.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys. Thank you all for attending this special day set aside to honor the Veterans of this great nation. It's always great to have a community such as the Town of Dillsboro to decide to hold a Veterans Day program. Patriotism and Americanism is alive and well in Dillsboro. It makes me proud to call Dillsboro my hometown.

Just to clarify:
Veterans Day observances traditionally honor all who have served in the Military. Memorial Day is designated as a day of remembrance for those in our Military who have died while defending this great nation during time of war.

How many military veterans are present this afternoon? Thank you for your service to this great nation, and welcome home. This is your day.

Since I have been serving as the Ripley County Veterans Service Officer, or even before, people come to me and ask, “What can we do to best help the young men and women who are currently serving in the military in the war zones?” They want to find a way to help. But sometimes money alone is not enough. They may want to find ways that will always be there to help them.

You can help by sending them care packages or certain comfort items that they may not have access to. I'm sure they would like to receive local newspapers in order to read about what is going on back home, it reminds them why they are over there.

There are numerous items you can send them to help them while they are serving their country. But those items are only a temporary fix. But what happens when they come home? What are you going to do to help them when they come home looking for a job?

Help them with their educational needs. Help them with their combat disabilities. Many are returning home with Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, they may be miss an arm or aleg.

Helping them to adapt to ways they are unfamiliar with, can be a very challenging duty.

More than 49,000. That's how many American servicemen and women have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11th (2001.) That's a sobering number. Sadder still are the new battles they face when they return home, a life that, for many, has been forever changed by the physical and psychological wounds they've sustained in the service of their country.

What can we do as citizens of America to help them with a welcome home they deserve? To make sure they have the best health care, make sure they have the best psychological care. To be able to take care of their educational needs, and to find employment so they can lead a prosperous life.

Most communities across America have the answer within their corporation limits. It may have been there for many decades. That is a war-time Veterans Organization. It could be a VFW or AMVETS post or DAV chapter. The one you have here in Dillsboro has been here for over 92 years. That is the Northcutt-Lakker American Legion Post 292.

By joining a veterans organization, whether as a war-time veteran, a ladies auxiliary or a son or a daughter of a veteran, you can help those veterans who are still serving today. Sign that service member up into a local veterans organization.

If you are eligible, you could be a member. By building the strength of local veterans organizations, that helps build the strength of the national organizations' voice in Washington, D.C.

Each year, the leaders of the organization goes to our nation's capital to talk to our lawmakers asking for increased benefits for our veterans, and to make sure they don't cut the VA budget which takes care of our nation's heroes. If we don't stay on top of it, they may find other ways to spend that money.

We must heed the words of our first Commander-in-Chief, General George Washington, who said in 1798, “The willingness with which our young people will fight in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”

We must ask ourselves as a nation, are we serving veterans even half as well as they have served us?

As we honor our 23 million living veterans from the Greatest Generation to the Latest Generation, let us never forget this debt that is owned. No government commission or single dollar amount can adequately repay what has been given to all of us throughout our nation's history.

Through their blood, service and sacrifice, veterans have given us freedom, security, and the greatest nation on earth. We must appreciate them.

Thank you for this honor.

God bless you all for being here to honor our veterans, God bless our veterans, and God bless America.