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Last week I wrote about Veterans Day and why we should always remember, honor and thank the brave people who have signed on the dotted line to protect us and our country from harm. Not all served in times of war or conflict, but they had to be ready at all times to step in. Most recently there has become a group who are not always thought about when thinking of military veterans – our National Guard and Reserve units.
These groups are organized at the state level and/or in our territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, or Virgin Islands. They fall into different groups of Reserve or National Guard or just state National Guard and are generally part-time or emergency active-duty units.
They operate units specializing in many of the same job fields of the full-time military so they can step in as support when needed. While their main objective is to guard our homeland they are generally used in areas of disasters and security. But they are also deployed overseas as needed to supplement our full-time military. So the name “Weekend Warriors” is not really the best description anymore.
While attending the Coosa County Veterans Lunch that was put on by the Town of Rockford last Saturday, I noticed that there didn’t seem to be any members of the Guard or Reserves recognized. Since many discharged veterans join those groups I didn’t know if they were just recognized for their regular military branch years without mentioning any time served in the Guard or Reserve. Both types of military service should be fully recognized and honored.
This year’s attendance seemed low, but the weather was also wet and cold. Older veterans may find it difficult to get out in that weather, but it was great to see the ones who did attend. I’m sure there will be a full article in the newspaper that will speak to the program and the five veterans who were specifically honored. If you are a veteran, the spouse or family member of a veteran, please make sure your name is on the list at Rockford Town Hall so you can be invited next year.
School Superintendent David Stover Jr., also a veteran himself, puts together a slideshow of all Coosa County veterans – both alive and deceased – so they are all acknowledged for their service. It’s amazing how many families have two and three different generations who appear in that slideshow!
One more way that we can honor our veterans besides Veterans Day itself is by participating in Wreaths Across America ceremonies at the National cemeteries around the country. These are held in December, and volunteers/family members help place wreaths on all of the graves. The closest National Cemetery to us is in Montevallo, and that is where my husband’s ashes are buried plus where my ashes will be buried. If you are, or a family member is, a veteran, consider using the benefit available for free burial in a National Cemetery. All of them resemble the serenity, grace and quiet of Arlington Cemetery you’ve seen pictures of. You can Google Alabama National Cemetery for more information.
This year the ceremony will be on Saturday, December 16, at the flag pole area. It lasts approximately one hour, and then the people divide up to place the wreaths in the different areas. You can choose to put wreaths out in the area of a relative or in any other area. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes to match the weather. If you want to sponsor a wreath, they are $17 and can be purchased online at the Wreaths Across America website.
If you are, or a family member is, a military veteran and you need help, we have a wonderful VA office in Alexander City. The service officer is Nicole Goodman (who also attended our Veterans Day lunch in Rockford), and she is fabulous! It takes time, but she will do everything in her power to get approval for any and all benefits every qualified veteran deserves. You can reach her at 256-234-5246.
Another reminder – please always thank a veteran any time you see one in a store, restaurant, or just walking down the street. You’ll recognize them by their hats or jackets – just say “Excuse me” and stretch out your hand to say, “Thank you for your service.” You can’t imagine how much this means – especially to the Vietnam vets who were treated so badly on their return home. And our younger vets need to know we have their backs, too.
Once you’ve done this a couple of times it will become easier, and you’ll realize what a difference it makes to both the veteran and to YOU! Make sure your children are taught to do this, also – they need to understand the debt we owe these men and women!
Thank you to all of you reading this who are veterans of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Army National Guard, Space Force, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve Command, National Guard, Coast Guard Reserve, Marine Corp Reserve, Army Corp of Engineers, Air National Guard, and Department of Defense. I appreciate your service – past and present – to our great country.
Please keep our military in your prayers always.