Guest comment: Veterans are not forgotten

Many of this year’s Veterans Day events have either been canceled or moved to virtual platforms [in response to the COVID-19 pandemic]. But we can all still play a part in reaching out to the veterans in our lives and remind them that they are not alone or forgotten.

Veterans are our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, neighbors, friends and colleagues. At VA NorCal, we work with veterans who come from many different backgrounds, states and countries, belief systems, ethnicities, and walks of life. We understand that every veteran’s transition back into civilian life is unique. Some veterans require little support when they leave the military, while others can struggle to reintegrate back into civilian life, which can seem chaotic at times in comparison to the structured military life. While every person who has served in our nation’s military is different, one thing is true about all veterans: They served us and deserve our thanks. Veterans sacrificed for you and me. Now it’s our turn to be there for them.

A few simple ways to safely reach out to the veterans in your lives year-round include:

• Making a phone or video call
• Sending a text or social media message
• Sending an email
• Visiting, while practicing physical distancing.

If you want to do more for the veterans in your life, encourage them to look into the VA benefits they earned. Veterans can apply for VA health care benefits by visiting their local VA medical center or outpatient clinic, calling 1-877-222-8387, or visiting www.va.gov. Veterans who are in crisis or loved ones who may be concerned about a veteran can connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders—many who are also veterans themselves. To reach the Veterans Crisis Line, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at veteranscrisisline.net.

I’m encouraging each of us to do what we can to help, connect with and express our thanks to the veterans in our lives. On behalf of VA NorCal and our many dedicated employees, thank you to our nation’s veterans for your selfless service to this country we all love.

David Stockwell is the Director of the VA Northern California Health Care System

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