The face of Veteran’s Day is changing. Something we’ve noticed over the past few years, when attending various Veteran’s Day events and parades, is that the men and women participating as veterans are younger than we remember from our youth. After our country being involved in a conflict of some sort in the Middle East for over 10 years, there are many young veterans in our midst. But the men and women who fought for our country during WWII, Korea and Vietnam are part of an aging population, and the veterans’ statistics show that. Of the 19.6 million veterans in the United States, almost half (9.3 million) are 65 or older.
That means that for those of us at Piedmont HomeCare, we have the opportunity to work with veterans as clients, and we’re proud to serve this strong, proud group of people.
One thing we have learned from our daily contact with veterans in the Winston-Salem area is that they have so many great stories to share about their service, but many of them haven’t had the opportunity to tell their stories. Sometimes they might not want to remember the stressful times and they repress the memories. But we’ve also found that some veterans are reluctant to talk about their time in the military because they feel like it won’t be of interest for people who haven’t shared the same experiences. Of course, we know they couldn’t be more wrong about that!
If you have a loved one who is a veteran, take the time to ask them about their service. Giving them a chance to talk can be a very healing exercise in many ways. It’s also a great way to document part of our nation’s history.
Here are some sample questions from the Veterans History Project to help you start a conversation:
Were you drafted or enlisted?
Do you remember arriving, and what it was like?
How did you stay in touch with your family?
What did you think of your fellow soldiers?
What did you eat?
What did you do when you weren’t actively working or fighting?
You can also ask to see any scrapbooks, photographs or other memorabilia. Sometimes looking at these will inspire even more stories. Remember to take notes so you can remember the stories later. You might want to save them for the rest of your family as part of your family history. You can also help veterans share their stories in a more public forum. The Veterans History Project, part of the American Folklife Center, collects stories from veterans for their database. You can learn more about how to participate on their website. The American Veterans Center is another place to publish your story.
We all pay special attention to veterans on Veteran’s Day each year, but it is important to remember to honor our veterans and let them know we care every day of the year.