It is easy to take for granted the blessings of liberty each of us have as Americans. Even in 2019, many around the world do not have the same rights and freedoms guaranteed to us. We would not be in this position without the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country. This Veterans Day, let’s take a moment to thank our veterans for their bravery and do all we can to support them at home and abroad.
Many of us are related to a veteran or have a connection to someone who served our country. My father was a Marine killed in the war in Vietnam. I served 22 years in the military, and now my oldest son serves as a combat medic. There is no way for me to ever repay the sacrifice my father and countless others made for our country, but every day I am grateful for their service.
While we thank our veterans, let’s also remember that Veterans Day is an opportunity to draw attention to the challenges that many who served face. Veterans struggle with disproportionate rates of homelessness, deficits in educational achievement, difficulty finding employment and wounds from service.
Here in Southern Indiana, I am proud to be on the board of directors for Southern Indiana Veteran Living And Rehabilitation Facility (SIVLARF) a shelter for homeless veterans. We will be creating a tiny home village to get vets off the streets and out from under bridges. We have a number of services designed to help our veterans. If you or someone you know is a veteran, check out Next Level Veterans at www.in.gov/veterans/ to connect to job opportunities and information about Indiana's veteran home buyer program. Also, visit the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs for additional resources. To make it easier for veterans and their families to access benefits, the state just launched an online portal at https://www.in.gov/dva/ to provide a way for veterans, spouses and dependents to check whether they are eligible for government benefits without having to make an appointment or speak with someone from the Department.
How can you help? Stop by for lunch at your local American Legion Post and Veterans of Foreign Wars, donate to causes that support veterans, such as the Wounded Warrior Project or Fisher House, and always thank the veterans that you see for their service. These men and women have a unique story and experience, and by helping them you are helping to preserve the fighting spirit that fuels our nation.
We can never fully repay the courageous men and women who answered our nation's call to secure our freedom and defend our way of life. That's why it’s important, not just on Veterans Day but every day, to show our gratitude to those who served. To all veterans of all branches: thank you for your sacrifice, bravery and the example you set for us all.
State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,
which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.
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