The following is a letter to the editor from State Rep. Thomas Stanley.
Veterans Day is a celebration to honor and thank America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. On Veterans Day, we are reminded of the worth of our freedom, as we pause to honor and remember the fallen and show our appreciation for those still among us. We recognize the millions of veterans we think of not just as veterans, but as neighbors, relatives, friends and colleagues.
Our veterans and their families are all around us in our community, and they make great efforts to avoid recognition, and very rarely ask for help. In Masssachusetts alone, there are more than 350,000 veterans, including more than 37,000 who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11/01.
Massachusetts continues to lead our nation in supporting our veterans. The legislature recently passed the “The Valor Act” which helps provide better employment opportunities for our veterans and increased support for the families of deceased veterans. Programs such as Home Base’s “Staying Strong” support military families at home and in our school communities, and the 13,000 military-connected children in Massachusetts. Learn more about Home Base at www.homebaseprogram.org.
At the State House, the Veterans Committee is currently following a very promising court-supervised program for defendants who have served in the armed forces and are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. The voluntary program, which demands more from veterans than a regular probation program, promotes recovery and stability through extensive collaboration with the VA and the support of a veteran peer mentor who will act as an advocate, mentor and ally.
Massachusetts continues to utilize the services provided by our best teaching hospitals in Boston to treat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It is estimated that one in three Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer PTSD and TBI, the invisible wounds of war.
Supportive services are available to our veterans and military families. If you know a veteran, reach out to them and let them know about the following websites which provide important services to our veterans: www.MassVetsAdvisor.org/ www.mass.gov/veterans / www.massguardfamily.org / firstname.lastname@example.org
Our veterans remember—not only on Veterans Day, but every day—the men and women who are still serving on the battlefields of war. Let us reflect with pride on the brave members of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and honor those presently serving our country to protect freedoms across the world.
As a member of the legislature and an American who is grateful for veterans’ contributions to protecting peace and freedom, I will continue to do all I can to ensure our veterans and their families are supported in every way possible.
Rep. Tom Stanley