OPINION: Veterans Day is more than just a day off from school 

Nov. 11 marks the national holiday known as Veterans Day. Students often revel at this opportunity for a day off from school. However, there is much more to Veterans Day than that. 

Veterans Day is a day when all people around the nation should honor those who have fought and continue to fight tirelessly for our country. 

Bryce Reagan (right) with her father Tony Reagan (middle) and brother TJ (left). (Photo courtesy of Bryce Reagan)

This day is meant to recognize the efforts of those who are currently serving, along with those who have served in the past. Whether they are on American soil or overseas, there are many veterans who sacrifice their lives to protect you and I. 

What many do not realize is that these individuals are working day and night to do so. Deployment and the conditions that these individuals are required to endure take a massive amount of strength and courage to voluntarily participate in.

Bryce Reagan with her father Tony Reagan. (Photo courtesy of Bryce Reagan.)

Being the daughter of an Air National Guard veteran, it is upsetting to watch how this country praises those who enter the military for their service, but neglect to help these same individuals after their discharge –– even after they call for help. 

There are many issues U.S. veterans deal with that many citizens choose to ignore. Mental health disorders, homelessness and long term disabilities are common struggles veterans face. 

While my father was one of the lucky ones and did not develop any lasting health issues or disabilities due to his service, that is not to say that there are not countless members out there who have. It is our job as a society to praise those who have finished their service and also continue to help and thank them for all they do for us while in the military. 

Veterans have a higher probability of developing mental health disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and even traumatic brain injuries. According to the National Council for Mental Health Well Being, nearly 30% of veterans who have been deployed or who have been in the reserves have a mental health issue that is in need of treatment, including 730,000 who are suffering from PTSD. Twenty two U.S. veterans die by suicide every day. More lasting health issues are arising for our heroes. 

Approximately 42,000 veterans have known spinal cord injuries, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. There are many veterans in need of disability benefits that can be difficult to receive. It makes it more difficult for some veterans to acquire benefits and find funds to help get them back on their feet. 

Heartbreakingly, 37,252 of our veterans are homeless in the United States as of 2020, according to MilitaryTimes.com 

Those in the service are putting their long term well-being on the line in order to protect U.S. citizens and our freedoms. The least we can do is thank them for their service and honor them on this day.

There are many ways students and other individuals can help to support veterans –– on Nov. 11 and throughout the year. Donating to local food pantries or homeless shelters specifically for veterans is one way to make an effort. Say thank you to a veteran you know and show your genuine appreciation. 

There are also many fundraisers that students can donate to help fund veterans’ resources and recovery programs. These fundraisers help veterans navigate the process of receiving benefits for disabilities, alleviating out of pocket costs for medical treatments, safe housing as well as support for veterans and their families. 

It doesn’t take much to help those who have fought so long to protect our freedoms. We owe it to our veterans to show them we appreciate everything they do for us on a daily basis. While we may not see their struggles firsthand, the lives we live show their efforts on a daily basis. 

Bryce Reagan’s father, Tony Reagan giving a speech at his retirement ceremony, after served for the Air National Guard for 33 years. (Photo courtesy of Bryce Reagan)