Help write success story for next generation of veterans
Recent News-Register pages have been filled with articles related to honoring American veterans
Recent News-Register pages have been filled with articles related to honoring American veterans. From schools to Evergreen Museum to local service organizations, many took time to thank those who serve and have served in our military.
The November holiday is a time to consider our American freedoms and appreciate those who sacrificed to protect them.
Veterans Day can take a historical feel, with stories of World War II, Korea and Vietnam passed down to new generations. But we also need to keep in mind the current state of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Locally, the build-up to Veterans Day was more newsworthy this year because of increased activity by the Yamhill County Veterans Services office. In September, the department hosted its first Veterans Forum, soon after the employment of Jerry Wilson as new veterans service officer.
Wilson spent 30 years in the Air Force and returned to civilian life as a quality assurance manager with Evergreen International Airlines. After three years with the state of Oregon veterans program, he assumed his current position.
The new director acted quickly to enhance programs and move the office from a somewhat hidden house to the sidewalk side of the county Health and Human Services building on Davis Street. He likes the combination of casework and community involvement his position demands, and he brings new energy to the county’s mix of veterans services.
It’s important — locally, statewide and nationally — to take care of specific needs among veterans. As Wilson explains, the challenges faced by returning veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan are different from those of older veterans.
For these veterans, it’s difficult to reintegrate into an American society that lacks real understanding of what our fighting forces have faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many returnees are hampered by serious injuries, others by post-traumatic stress disorders. They return to an economy still staggering from a great recession that greatly limits the availability of good jobs.
As a community, we can maintain open discussions about the needs of veterans, make sure they feel accepted and appreciated for their service and help them find jobs. They need to know that, if times are tough, Americans have their back.
The history of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans generation is being written now. We must do our part to make it a success story.