Veterans Day. I’m not going to lie, today is one of the more difficult days in my year and I’ve historically not been a very big fan of the day. I appreciate however, how much America has invested into 11/11/11 and I greatly appreciate the direction our national dialogue is taking as it relates to the Armed Services and Veteran Community. While there is much work still to be done, and will be for several years, as someone who spends a lot of his time exhorting communities to get to work, it must be said, that communities are listening and beyond that, many are responding to the call to get involved.
In the past six months as I’ve had the honor and privilege to be the Military Families and Veterans Representative at the Sierra Club, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across our great Nation and meet many of the people who are doing the hard work, day in and day out to support our military veterans and work to lower the statistic of 18 veterans a day committing suicide.
We are I believe, finally moving beyond tribute, to do the hard work of shifting the burden of integration off the shoulders of our veterans and military families and onto our communities, where the resources of the 95-99% of Americans who are not serving can bring full resources to bear. To quote from my good friend Paul Schneeberger, we are moving, “Beyond Tribute”. When the parades are over, we’re getting to work. Today in partnership with a number of great partners in service projects to the broader communities and for veterans in San Francisco, Tuscon, Taos, Honolulu, Seattle, and Denver, as well as by simply ensuring we maintain the Military Family and Veterans Outdoors Program. You can see some of the work we are doing here:
So for those of you who are wondering how you can move beyond tribute on this veterans day when you get home from the parades, the dinners, the galas, or just simply saying thank you to the veterans you know in your life, here are a few ideas:
- Get involved locally with your Sierra Club outings group and begin to reach out to the local military and veteran community to help get them outside. The Sierra Club is launching a number of listening sessions this Spring to bring together outings leaders and military service members, families, and veterans to tailor some of our training to be more inclusive of the military and veteran community;
- Get to know a bit more about your military’s history and rank structure. Here’s a helpful little guide: http://www.combatcasting.com/RankStructure.html
- Use the freedoms and liberties that military veterans fought for whenever you can. This means voting, getting out on public lands, and using your freedom of speech, press, and religion
- Protect the environment and be deliberate in your inclusion of your entire community, including veterans and military families in the work you are doing. We did not go to war to come home to dirty air and dirty water
There are hundreds of other avenues on how you can get involved to support your local veteran and military community and we hope that as you do, you’ll think of all the ways we can help you here at the Sierra Club, to move beyond tribute and keep saying thanks!
Have a great day, and remember, thank a veteran, get outside on your public lands!
--Stacy Bare, Sierra Club's Military Families and Veterans Representative