When you hear the term “veteran” most people immediately think of those who have served in the military. While that is true, the word veteran also resonates with those who have served our Nation as law enforcement officers and fire and rescue professionals.
Often referred to as America’s 911 Force, collectively, these groups of heroes ensure our country is safeguarded both here at home and around the globe. However, after courageously serving their communities and country, many of the more than 25 million veterans and first responders live in poverty; face homelessness and are in desperate need of help. Millions are disabled, many are struggling financially, and a high number need treatment for depression, and other psychological issues.
Despite their sacrifices, this special group of citizens aren’t looking for special treatment or a hand-out…instead, when needed, they are simply looking for a “hand-up” – they want to be a part of their community, to stand on their own two feet, and continue to lead a productive life.
It’s a fact that less than 1 percent of Americans today serve in any type of military or first responder uniform, but they bear 100 percent of the burden of defending our streets and borders. Despite this low number, their impact is powerful. Currently, more than 2.2 million service members make up America’s all-volunteer force in the active, National Guard, and Reserve components, and nearly 1.5 million make up our first responder ranks.
Fifty five percent of America’s 911 Force is married and 40 percent have two children. Multiple deployments; combat and street injuries; and the challenges of balancing work and family can have far-reaching effects on not only America’s 911 Force and their families, but also upon our communities. These challenges should be at the forefront of our national discourse…and by working together - we can make a difference.
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