Thank you for your service.
That simple remark should be stated again and again as the nation approaches Veterans Day and well beyond that holiday. Every day of the year, in fact, veterans warrant our gratitude and appreciation for their patriotism, love of country, courage and readiness to serve and sacrifice for their fellow Americans.
With some 35,000 veterans living in Manatee County, there are plenty of opportunities to give thanks.
Veterans Day serves as a time to honor living veterans just as Memorial Day pays tribute to those members of the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for their service.
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As should be well known, Armistice Day commemorated the end of World War I, which officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. But combat continued for an additional seven months until all hostilities ceased with a peace agreement between the allied nations and Germany — on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. Thus, the next year, Armistice Day began being observed on Nov. 11 to honor World War I veterans.
After two more major conflicts — World War II and the Korean War — service organizations implored Congress to pay tribute to all veterans. President Eisenhower, a five-star general in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, signed the legislation in June 1954. Veterans Day came into being. (Did you know? During World War II, the nation witnessed the greatest mobilization of Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force personnel in U.S. history with more than 16 million men and women entering the armed forces.)
Manatee County demonstrates its indebtedness to veterans through a multitude of commendable public and private programs.
Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program targets the many challenges that veterans and their families face with comprehensive case management and vocational services that address employment, disabilities, mental health issues, education and housing. There’s also an emergency fund for veterans in need of immediate help.
Goodwill helps veterans navigate the broad lineup of available programs and provides a 60-page, 2016 Veterans Resource Guide that connects veterans and their families with the many applicable services. Goodwill Manasota collaborates with more than 250 partners, an impressive alliance.
Over the past three years, the charitable organization has assisted some 1,200 veterans.
Manatee County government’s Veterans Services Division helps veterans, spouses and children obtain federal, state and local benefits depending on eligibility. The division’s service officers are fully versed in the laws of the federal veterans assistance system and the state of Florida about those benefits, and they help veterans communicate with various county, state and federal agencies on such issues as education, home ownership and disability and pension compensation benefits. These confidential services are all free, and outreach assistance is available for the homebound physically unable to visit the county office.
Last year, the county’s Veterans Services Division assisted 14,000 veterans, a remarkable figure.
Special events also bolster veterans. Among those, two are coming right up.
The 18th Veterans Stand Down, on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto, serves a special purpose by targeting homeless veterans and families. The event links veterans with more than 20 organizations that supply simple, essential goods such as new clothing and shoes, blankets, a hot meal as well as vital services including medical and dental screenings, vision examinations, resume assistance, legal consultations and more, all in one place.
Turning Points, Bradenton’s leader in providing help and hope for men, women and children at risk of homelessness or who are homeless at the Bill Galvano One Stop Center, offers rental and utility assistance and helps find affordable housing. The nonprofit sponsors Stand Down, securing help from quite a few agencies and companies. Hundreds of homeless area veterans are expected to attend this valuable event.
On Nov. 9, veterans looking for work can attend the appropriately named Paychecks for Patriots, hosted by CareerSource Suncoast. The hiring event, at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex in Sarasota from 9 a.m. to noon, will feature 35 employers from Manatee and Sarasota counties.
This region honors and accommodates veterans is so many ways, it’s gratifying to live in a compassionate and generous community willing to donate time, talent and money for such a significant population — all to express thanks and respect.
Here’s a salute to our men and women in the armed forces on this Veterans Day and each and every day.