By MELINDA KAPALIN
Flags will be flying and veterans will be honored today as our country pays tribute to the brave men and women who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Services.
Every American should take a moment to remember that our freedom is assured because of the individuals who enlist to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Realistically, this day will pass and the non-military citizens will go about their work, school and lives without much thought about the military families and veterans who are facing difficult times.
We can’t let our support of these brave men and women be confined to one day.
Today, there are many needs for veterans and active military families all across our country.
Did you know that in the last year there has been a five-fold increase in the number of military personnel that are on food stamps?
This number includes families who’s loved ones are on active duty overseas fighting in Afghanistan or other parts of the world.
The Department of Defense reports that military personnel that are within the junior pay scale who have children and a non-working spouse will most likely be eligible to receive food stamps.
They also report that this year alone over $100 million in food stamps will be redeemed at military commissaries.
An additional $31.2 million will be redeemed under the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program by military families.
These families need our help! They struggle as one parent is on active duty and the other parent is juggling taking care of their children, school work, and trying to pay the bills and keep food on the table.
Is it any wonder that the stress levels of military families is sky high?
As you honor our veterans today, take a look around your community and see if there is a veteran or active military family that you could offer to help. Sometimes, it can be as simple as being available to listen to their story.
You could also offer to have them over for a meal or even invite them to your Thanksgiving dinner. If the family has a member deployed overseas, you could ask if the stateside parent needs a babysitter so they could have a break.
These families are in our neighborhoods and their children attend our schools. Reach out and offer a bit of help.
It is too easy these days for men, women and children slip through the cracks of social services when facing overwhelming financial, emotional and even physical barriers.
Helping these families can be the small boost of encouragement that they need to get through this difficult time
Without our help they might be close to losing their home, going hungry, or having to decide between keeping the utilities on and paying other bills.
When people have exhausted all their options or emergency assistance, they can be just one small financial crisis away from losing their homes.
In America we have over 62,000 veterans who have had this tragedy occur and are homeless.
They served our country during our time of need but once release from duty, they returned to an unstable economy and a lack of steady employment.
Without additional support the transition back to civilian life is too difficult and it is easy to lose hope.
There are programs available to help veterans but sometimes they need a little extra help from someone in their community to get them to the offices or to make the phone call.
Be aware and call yourself if you have any questions or want to find other ways to help. Honor our Veterans every day!
Remember, education and prevention programs help our community to be a better place.
For more information:
National Veteran Call
For Suicide Prevention
Treatment – Lake Area