edit toon Veterans Tribute

“It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.”

— Former President Barack Obama

As we mark Veterans Day 2021, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of those who served in the military did so willingly.

It’s been nearly 50 years since America ended the draft and formed an all-volunteer military. Conscription, as it was more formally called, ended July 1, 1973, at the peak of protests over the Vietnam War.

That means everyone who has protected this country since the end of Vietnam — fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism — signed up to do so.

There are many reasons to join the military, such as receiving college tuition assistance, developing career skills and finding a direction and discipline in life. But when asked, nearly all recruits say a strong urge to serve their country was near the top of their lists.

That service must be reciprocated, especially for those service men and women disabled during their time in the military.

One way to help veterans would be to contact the veterans’ services officer in your community. A Massachusetts law dating back to the Civil War requires that all 351 cities and towns designate an officer to help veterans, particularly in getting the benefits they deserve.

There are also many national organizations which provide aid to those who served. Here are three:

Disabled American Veterans

The DAV offers a variety of services to disabled veterans and their families.

With more than 1.2 million members, DAV has tremendous reach and provides a variety of services to disabled veterans and their families, including help with disability assistance, VA pensions, job programs and more.

It receives no government funding, so donations are crucial to the organization’s efforts. www.dav.org.

Wounded Warrior Projectw

This charity offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following 9/11.

The organization provides backpacks with comfort items for disabled veterans and has partnered with several other charities to help with every from assisting veterans transition to college and the workplace to providing music therapy.

The Wounded Warrior Project was rocked by scandal five years ago and its CEO fired for laving spending, but the charity has since been given a four-star rating by the Better Business Bureau. www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

Homes for Our Troops

This group builds and donates specially-adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives.

Most of these veterans have sustained severe injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis or traumatic brain injury.

These homes restore some of the freedom and independence veterans sacrificed and enable them to focus on their family, recovery and rebuilding their lives. www.homeforourtroops.org.