Honoring Our Veterans
Retired Master Sgt. Earl Hamilton, Sr., Veterans of Foreign Wars Enterprise Chapter member, salutes the colors during last year’s Veterans Day ceremony. This year, Fort Rucker hosted its Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 10 at Veterans Park between the Daleville Gate and the U.S. Army Aviation Museum. (Photo by Russell Sellers)

Today we pause to thank the many brave men and women who have valiant­ly served our coun­try in the armed forces, defend­ing this great nation so that the rest of us may go about our lives freely and peacefully.

We at NPI are espe­cial­ly grate­ful for the ser­vice of our own Rick Heg­dahl (U.S. Navy Retired), who served two tours of duty in the Iraqi the­ater a decade ago, and to all friends and sup­port­ers of NPI who are vet­er­ans, like Matt Isen­how­er, Chad Lup­kes, Andy Rib­au­do, Joel Ware, Jay Clough, and many more.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma com­mem­o­rat­ed the occa­sion with a speech at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery in Vir­ginia, where he was joined by many vet­er­ans, includ­ing Amer­i­ca’s old­est known female World War II vet­er­an, Army Lieu­tenant Colonel Luta C. McGrath, who is turn­ing one hun­dred and eight this month.

Oba­ma made a pitch dur­ing his remarks for employ­ers to hire vet­er­ans, saying:

Our trib­utes today will also ring hol­low if we don’t pro­vide our vet­er­ans with the jobs and oppor­tu­ni­ties that you need when you come home. That’s why we’ve helped more than 1.5 mil­lion vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies pur­sue an edu­ca­tion under the Post‑9/11 GI bill.

That’s why we worked to make sure that every state now pro­vides vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies with in-state tuition. It’s why we’re fight­ing to make it eas­i­er for our vet­er­ans to get the licens­es and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions to tran­si­tion the out­stand­ing skills they gained in the armed ser­vices to civil­ian jobs. It’s why we’re help­ing more vet­er­ans and mil­i­tary spous­es find jobs. And today, the vet­er­ans’ unem­ploy­ment rate is down to 3.9 per­cent — even low­er than the nation­al average.

But this can’t just be a job for gov­ern­ment. We all have a role to play. I real­ize that with less than 1 per­cent of Amer­i­cans serv­ing in uni­form, the oth­er 99 per­cent of folks don’t always see and appre­ci­ate the incred­i­ble skills and assets that our vet­er­ans can offer. On this Vet­er­ans Day, here’s what I want every Amer­i­can to know: Our vet­er­ans are some of the most tal­ent­ed, dri­ven, capa­ble peo­ple on Earth.

Good on you for say­ing this, Mr. President.

The full speech is avail­able for on-demand view­ing at WhiteHouse.gov.

Again, Hap­py Vet­er­ans Day, and thanks to all those NPI sup­port­ers and Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers who have served. We are for­ev­er grateful.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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