Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of the year, during which we celebrate family, friendship, and we take the time to express our appreciation and gratitude to important members of our communities. One important group we pay homage to are our nations veterans - currently deployed in over 150 countries, and 68,000 service members are risking their lives on our behalf in Afghanistan. While there is no doubt our troops appreciate the pad on the back, I am challenging all of not to limit our gratitude to a mere 5 days a year, i.e., memorial day, veterans day, July 4th, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that over 62,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and over twice that many experience homelessness during the year. A significant number of homeless veterans are suffering from substance abuse problems, and nearly 900,000 are waiting for their disability claims to be approved by the VA. While they are waiting for the much needed support, and while we pray for our troops to return safely from abroad, there are other things we can do. This includes, but is not limited to visiting our local homeless veteran service providers, involving others to volunteer, participating in local homeless coalitions, or making donations to homeless veteran service providers. I am challenging all of us to demonstrate our gratitude with action!