Veterans Day is Nov.11, the public holiday to honor all who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard.
Although there are many other public servants and many other ways to perform public service, being a veteran is very special. When you are member of the U.S. military you turn almost every aspect of your life – and perhaps your life itself – over to the nation’s well-being.
During that time, you may not get to decide what you will do or where you will do it; you trust the nation’s leadership and the chain of command to make those decisions in the best national interests. It goes so far as to make you subject to a unique legal structure, the UCMJ – United States Code of Military Justice. That sounds very restrictive, but there is no other way to operate a military system.
Things may have changed, but during my time almost every job description in the Army ended with the same line, “May fight as infantry if required.” It was a sobering thought. Today’s job descriptions should also include, “May call you back – frequently” because the U.S. maintains a relatively small active military force in relation to our global commitments and multiple deployments are common.
It’s terrible to be away from home and especially in a dangerous environment, but part of our strategy is the fight “there” so our people “here” can enjoy the fruits of our freedoms. In a nutshell that is what the veterans have done for their fellow Americans – dedicated themselves to keeping the nation safe and secure and providing support and relief wherever and whenever necessary. It’s a big responsibility and all do their part no matter what job they have.
Our responsibility in return is to value, protect, and care for our veterans to the best of our ability – as a nation we still have a long way to go in that.
I give my fellow veterans of every era my heartfelt thanks for the most essential and difficult public service of all, the defense of liberty.
Martin G. Richman
Chief Warrant Officer 4
U.S. Army (Retired)