During this National Entrepreneur Month, we not only recognize the tenacity of small business owners, but our veterans who took the leap of faith to open a small business. While November is widely known as a time our country honors and recognizes the contributions veterans made to our country, it’s also a moment we acknowledge the impact entrepreneurs have made to our economy; both adding valuable contributions to our country.
I am a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, having deployed on two different ships four times to the then-war-torn country. I married the love of my life, Mary, after my first deployment in 1970. Looking back these 46 years, I am so glad I married early in life; it enabled us to have so many wonderful times together, raise a family, have careers, travel the world and enjoy our marriage. And looking back, it also bought us some years together, given that in many ways, we’ve lost some more recently.
For most of us, Veterans Day brings parades and one-day sales. However, more than 5.5 million Americans spend every day honoring a veteran by providing hands-on emotional and physical care.
Veterans Day began when an unknown World War I American soldier was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery, at the 11 th hour of the 11 th day of the 11 th month in 1921. Similar ceremonies, at the identical hour, took place at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. All three nations were honoring veterans’ service, and celebrating the arrival of peace — a peace that was hoped to be permanent, with the end of the War to End All Wars.
As my dad’s memories fade due to Alzheimer’s disease, the list of things that still stick with him gets increasingly shorter. My mom’s name is frequently on his lips, even though she passed on a year ago. His service dog, Mr. Jackson, is still his key companion and, even when he can’t remember his name, he looks for “the dog.” And he still knows the 10th Mountain Division, with whom he served in World War II as they drove the Nazis and Mussolini out of Italy. Being a veteran is one of the few things that Dad still identifies with.
Several months ago, I met Doug and Michelle Mercer of McAlester, Okla. Doug had been home from Iraq for only four days when he suffered debilitating injuries in a serious motorcycle accident. Three and a half years later, he is still recovering brain function, he uses a wheelchair and he needs help 24/7.
As we honor our former military personnel, Veterans Day is also a good time to recognize the year-round attempts to defraud them and to take advantage of those who appreciate their sacrifice and service.
When I first started investigating the Veterans Administration's Aid and Attendance and Housebound Benefits program for my Dad, a decorated WWII Veteran who earned the Bronze Star while serving in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division, I was excited to learn that he might qualify for some financial assistance to help with the cost of his care. Aid and Attendance is an enhanced or special monthly pension program for certain veterans who require care. Dad has developed Alzheimer's disease and is legally blind, and my parents' expenses exceed their income now. But I was warned by many that the process was incredibly arduous and lengthy. One friend told me she applied for her Dad, also a WWII veteran, who finally received notification he was approved for benefits ... a month after he died. The process took over a year and a half.
Though the President's overall jobs plan has been languishing in a divided Congress, the veteran's jobs package"”including a provision to give companies tax credits for hiring unemployed military veterans and a job-training program for vets"”passed the Senate yesterday 94-1.
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