Every year there are plenty of ceremonies and solemn dedications to all of those who have put on a uniform to defend the United States. Making the ultimate sacrifice is one of the greatest heroic deeds a person can do. But what many people don’t realize is that only a very small percentage of the population shoulders the burden of fighting in foreign lands, worrying if loved ones will come home, and dealing with the irreparable loss of someone who fell in combat. If you had to guess what portion of the population is directly affected by military action, what would be your guess? Ten percent? Twenty percent? The answer may shock you.
Only about one percent of the population currently serves in the military. And younger people under the age of thirty only have about a one in three chance of having an immediate family member that’s served. If that seems like a very small amount, consider that only about nine percent of the population served during World War II. People over the age of fifty, though, have a seventy-five percent chance of having an immediate family member that served. The point is, it’s always been less than ten percent of the population that’s shouldered the burden of America’s defense. This puts the impetus on the other 99% of the population to show their support however they can. Whether it’s marine ribbons, navy pins, or army shirts, there are ways to publically display that you stand with the men and women in uniform. If you want to show your support for military service members and families, there are a number of things that you can do.
Write your congressperson
More than anything else, returning service members need real support. There is a backlog in the Department of Veterans Affairs as far as getting service members the benefits that they’ve earned. Only pressure on elected officials can help speed up a process that shouldn’t be so slow and mired in red tape. Though the situation is improving, there is much work to be done to ensure that veterans receive the benefits that they are entitled to after serving.
Display your support
Put on your navy pins or buy a bumper sticker that says you support the men and women serving in every branch of the military. Visibility is important. With less than one percent of the population serving, it’s easy to become disengaged and lose sight of the fact that people are overseas living in constant danger. It doesn’t take much to remind people of this reality. It doesn’t have to be something expensive. But purchasing something that can catch someone’s eye and make him or her think for a moment about service members is a great gesture.
There are many things you can do to help your local service members. Get involved in a veterans charity. Organize a benefit for them. It could also be as something as simple as thanking someone for their service if you see them in a public place in uniform.
Blogger and American military advocate looking to expand his reach for helping military veterans in need.