By April Speake
Executive Director, The Home Front Cares
I remember in the days following 9/11, the power of America pulling together with fierce patriotism. We were ready to “be all we could be” and to “aim high” to defend our soil and defeat terrorism around the world. There was an outpouring of public support at the start of the war on terror for our military and their families, who would come to sacrifice so much in the years to come. No one knows this better than The Home Front Cares, as that concern became the basis for our inception.
Fast-forward to today. The war in Iraq has officially ended. We are deploying fewer troops to Afghanistan. The war has receded from our daily lives. We don’t need to be as concerned for our warriors and their families. Or do we?
For thousands of veterans and their families, the war continues. These veterans were deployed to hostile war zones four or five times over the past several years. These warriors volunteered to protect our freedoms, and did so at a dear cost to them and their families. It took a toll on marriages, children and families. Many sacrifices were made, including lost limbs, lives and memories. What, now, is America’s promise to them? What promise has our community made to them? What is your promise to them?
Unlike Vietnam, the Global War on Terror was fought without a draft. In fact, only 1 percent of the population serves in today’s U.S. military. This has allowed most Americans to become removed from their lives and struggles. But not for long. The war has come home.
Our military veterans continue to wage war daily, as they struggle with the scars of their deployments and an America unprepared for them. This war is being fought in our community — our neighborhoods, schools, churches and workplaces. Veterans fight high rates of unemployment — higher than 20 percent — and a society unprepared to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries and other physical and invisible wounds. They face long delays in accessing veterans benefits, due in part to the sheer volume of veterans leaving the service, and they find little solace at home. They fight suicidal tendencies — 18 veterans commit suicide every day — and they fight to save their marriages and families.
They need our help. This is our opportunity to stand next to our veterans and fight along with them. It is our opportunity to help their next mission succeed. It is our chance to give them cover. When terror knocked on our door, they volunteered to chase it from our shores. Now they’ve come home to their own wars. It is our turn to fight for them.
For more information on helping Colorado’s veterans, visit www.thehomefrontcares.org