by Ron Cook

As we begin a new year, I thought it might be appropriate to consider the topic of courage as it relates to our U.S. Military, as well as our veterans, in this country. These men and women compose a very small percentage of our population, yet deal with 100% of our national security on foreign soils.

I served during the Vietnam Era as a National Guardsman. We were not deployed to Vietnam at that time, yet Guards, as well as Reserves, are deployed today. I was not thrilled to be drafted at the conclusion of my college years, but the experiences I had, especially during Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, will remain a cherished memory and a source of pride in my country.

At any given time, only about .4% of all Americans will be serving in some capacity in our Military. That’s around 1.4 million men and women. As of December 2019, there are a little over 332 million Americans in this country. It is estimated that 7.3 % of all living Americans have served our country, at some time, to keep us safe. The Vietnam War will soon be overcome in length by the current conflicts we have been involved with since 911.

Over the years since the beginning of our country, we have made ongoing attempts to serve our Military Veterans. As of September 2019, there are around 18.2 million Veterans. Nine million Veterans are served each year at over 1,200 medical facilities which includes 170 VA hospitals. In Louisiana alone, there are 74 VA service offices that field 1000s of contacts each year.

These are staggering numbers, considering the ratio, of those who serve active duty versus those who need continuing treatments and help as veterans.

Pineville is home to a wonderfully large and accommodating VA Hospital. I have been there to check again if anything had changed regarding Guard benefits. They were very helpful, but no, the benefits had not changed. I was able to qualify, however, for a VA loan for my last home. Just keep those discharge papers handy!

The VA works diligently with local communities to relieve the problems veterans may encounter.

Not many of us are called to face possible dangers in our workplace as a part of our job description. Our military does have to include danger as a part of their careers. We are thankful for their service, and feel safer due to their courage.

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