Guest Essay: Thanking Those Who Served and Their Families | Voice
On behalf of the men and women of the Department of Defense – those who currently serve – I want to take this opportunity to thank all who have come before us.
Veterans Day is a unique opportunity for us to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our predecessors, to recognize the broad shoulders on which we now stand. In times of peace and war, from generations to the very founding of this country, our fellow Americans have defended our democracy, advanced our security interests, fought our wars and preserved our way of life.
Some never returned to society the same way they left home for training camp. Some never returned at all. But all, living and dead, owe a great debt. And all of them, and their families, deserve our deepest respect.
That is why, at the Department of Defense, we continue to work in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that the transition to civilian life is as smooth as possible for all who serve today. And that’s why we work so hard to provide the best possible medical and mental health care for those whose military service has ended. We need to show ourselves able to heal the wounds we see, as well as those we cannot see.
We also need to make sure, as a nation, that the growth, development and opportunity for veterans lasts long after they take off the uniform. From education to employment opportunities, we at the Department will continue to ensure that our transitioning members fully understand and can achieve the benefits available to them and their families.
And we also thank these families for serving our country as well as our veterans. Through frequent travel and deployments, and the stress and strain of daily military life, they have made possible what our troops have made possible for national defense.
Finally, we must not forget that many veterans still serve this country. From community volunteering to leadership at the highest levels in the private and public sectors, Veterans make a huge difference. They run businesses. They run non-profit organizations. They are running for election. They always lead, educate, and motivate others to succeed and serve.
On this Veterans Day, I hope this particular lesson is not lost on anyone. And I take comfort in knowing that in communities large and small across this country, the American people continue to find ways to reach out and support our Veterans – whom they know as their neighbors, their teachers, their coaches. and their friends.
So, to our predecessors – our veterans and your brave families – thank you for the service you rendered in uniform and for the service you continue to provide to our great country. We honor you today and we always remember you.
Lloyd J. Austin III is Secretary of Defense