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My Turn: Don’t forget about our veterans

Gaston Gazette - 1/19/2021

Needless to say, 2020 was a very peculiar year. From COVID-19 to politics, media coverage seemed to be narrowly reported. This coverage almost completely overshadowed events around the world involving our military members. Their sacrifices continue, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

Another demographic falling through the cracks is our veterans. Upon leaving their service obligations behind, they strive to provide for their families and become productive members of society, though they will never be civilians again.

Too many employers overlook the training and discipline veterans receive while in the service. This training instills a work ethic rarely seen these days by the current younger work force. Veterans want to be productive members of the work force and contribute their knowledge and experience – not just show up for a paycheck.

Organization, commitment, and prioritization are skills veterans bring with them. They’ve been taught to perform task correctly the first time. This eliminates wasted energy and time. I would like to see employers in Gastonia and Gaston County make it a priority to hire our veterans. You won’t be sorry.

Honoring veterans’ sacrifices has also seemed to go by the wayside. If you know a veteran, thank them. Talk to them about their time in the service. We are losing almost 350 World War II veterans per day in the country. Within a few years, they will all be gone. And gone also will be their stories and experiences.

Talk to them, write down or record their stories. Stories which should be passed down to future generations so they may understand what they accomplished and why they served. These experiences must be preserved.

To specifically honor veteran’s, I would like to see businesses in Gastonia and Gaston County offer discounts on food and services to all veterans. Whether you have a local business or operate a chain franchise, show your appreciation.

Veterans need to know which businesses will do this. So, let’s ask the county and city economic development departments to design a window decal reflecting these offers so a veteran and tell at a glance where they may get a discount. The more businesses which participate, the more that will.

Another group which seems to be forgotten are our homeless veterans. As of January 2020, there were approximately 13-15 homeless veteran families in Gaston County. This is absolutely appalling.

With the capabilities of the county and cities within the county, there is no excuse for this atrocity. While there are non-profit agencies which strive to solve this issue, they cannot do it alone. All city governments within the county and county government should partner with the county VA office and come up with a solution.

It can be done and must be done. Call or write to your commissioner or council member and demand action. This letter serves as my notice to the Gastonia City Council and Gaston County Board of Commissioners.

I sponsor a peer-to-peer veterans support group called Vets Helping Vets. At our meetings, there are veterans who volunteer their knowledge and experiences to try to help with specific issues only veterans experience. Hopefully in the coming months, we will be able to start up our quarterly meetings again.

But I will only do this if they can be done safely, considering the COVID-19 virus. I miss our meetings and I know the participants do.

Finally, I want to remind you all a few holidays coming up this year which honor our veterans and military service men and women. On May 15th, we celebrate Armed Forces Day. This day is meant to honor those actively serving in uniform, whether active duty, National Guard, or Reserve.

On May 31st, we celebrate Memorial Day. This day is meant to honor those who have died while wearing the uniform and is considered the most solemn holiday of the year.

Finally, November 11th is Veterans Day. This holiday is meant to honor those who have ever worn the uniform. This holiday honors the largest group of veterans. Do not forget these special days.

In closing, please remember our first responders, military members, and their respective families in your prayers. Thank you for your time.

David Humphries is a resident of Gastonia.

This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: My Turn: Don’t forget about our veterans


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