Observing the Anniversary of 9/11

On the 16th anniversary of 9/11, the Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA) encourages readers of its blog to remember the 2,996 people who perished in the devastating terrorist attacks against the United States that day, as well as the sacrifices made by more than 2.5 million U.S. personnel who have served in the global war on terror since. Show them and the rest of the nation’s veterans that you care today by offering a meaningful thank-you for their service, and donate some of your time, money or expertise to a veteran or veterans group.

Service in Remembrance of 9/11

Every Sept. 11, events around the country commemorate the shocking and terrible events of that day in 2001. But it’s also a good time to pause and remember the veterans who were called into service after that fateful day, as well as those of the nation’s other foreign wars.

In New York City, you can visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which houses thousands of artifacts and photographs from 9/11, as well as more than 1,900 oral histories. In the Washington, D.C., area, remembrances will be held at the Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other locations.

People everywhere in America can commemorate 9/11 closer to home, however. Since the first anniversary of the attacks, Sept. 11 has been designated as a National Day of Service and Remembrance — a day to dedicate time and energy to charitable service as a tribute to 9/11 victims, survivors and servicepersons.

People throughout the country stage food drives, help spruce up public spaces and honor veterans on Sept. 11, and you can, too. Use this search tool to find opportunities to serve, and share your volunteer experiences on the social media, tagged #911Day, to spread the word and get more people involved.

You can also honor veterans any day of the year by clearing out the stuff you no longer need and donating it to ClothingDonations.org. Donations are distributed to secondhand and thrift stores, and the proceeds go toward veterans’ programs nationwide.

No matter when they served, combat leaves an indelible mark on veterans; more than a third will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following their service. For Vietnam vets, that stress was compounded by a lack of respect for an unpopular war; for younger veterans, by unpredictable and unconventional attacks.

This week, honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by donating a few hours in service to your country. First responders and those who serve in the nation’s military forces gave life and limb in the aftermath to protect the American way of life, and the survivors will appreciate your support.

Remembering Veterans on Independence Day

Celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth of July is marked by picnics, parades and above all, patriotism. And as with any holiday that demands the unfurling of the Stars & Stripes, it’s a great time to remember those who have served the nation.

The United States was borne of civil uprising. At first fighting what was a guerrilla war, rebels battled colonial rule and eventually formed the Continental Army. Seven bitter years of warfare later, a truce was declared, and six years after that, the founding fathers put forth a set of tenets for the country to live by.

Ever since, the nation has been in and out of conflict to guarantee life, liberty and pursuit of happiness on behalf of its own citizens and often, those of far-flung nations. Hundreds of thousands have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States, and many of those who returned home relatively intact still bear the less-visible scars of war.

If you see a veteran on the Fourth, stop and thank that person. Express your gratitude for defending the liberties that we so often take for granted. Hand him or her a hot dog, or offer up one of your lawn chairs for the fireworks display. Many still struggle to meet the daily obligations of civilian life, and will appreciate the kindness.

War is hell, and many of today’s surviving veterans suffer from physical disabilities and mental-health issues such as depression and PTSD. And the Vietnam veterans who are lucky enough to have their health and connections in the community are aging fast, and will appreciate recognition of the accomplishments made in their younger days.

As with any long weekend, you can take a day to clean out your closets and contact ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. Donations are tax-deductible and help fund programs that do everything from organizing social outings for veterans to building homes and providing medical care.

They served proudly and unselfishly, without thought for themselves — only the United States, its flag and its freedoms. Thank, honor and salute veterans on the most festive day of the summer; they fought for everything we celebrate.

A Few Things Donations Helped Fund

When you donate to ClothingDonations.org, you do more than get rid of unwanted stuff quickly and easily; you also help address the needs of the nation’s veterans. The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) uses proceeds from the resale of donated goods and other fundraising efforts to contribute to veterans’ programs of all kinds nationwide.

For example, VVA funds helped co-host a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Town Hall in Asheville, N.C., last year to connect area veterans with crucial counseling and support services. Almost one-third of veterans who served in Vietnam have suffered from PTSD at some point since serving, and veterans of the Gulf Wars are likely just as susceptible.

In New York, VVA Chapter 11 helps veterans in trouble with the law manage mental health issues and re-adjust to civilian life through the Suffolk County Veterans Court. Mentors from the VVA-funded diversionary program have helped hundreds of at-risk veterans address criminal charges, convictions, substance abuse and other issues in the six years since it was launched.

VVA fundraising has now helped recognize every single veteran of the Vietnam War living in Indiana through the “Quilts of Valor” program, established in 2003. And in San Angelo, Texas, a Vietnam-era helicopter is being restored to mark the city’s Vietnam War Memorial after suffering non-combat damage at the city’s Fourth of July celebration last year.

So, whether you already took advantage of Presidents Day to start your spring cleaning or are just figuring out where to begin, know that all of that stuff you’re going to be giving away goes toward good causes—causes that help those who have served throughout the country. VVA appreciates your support!

Celebrate Presidents’ Day with Veterans

Presidents’ Day means more than mattress sales. The holiday is also a great day to celebrate those who have served to protect this great nation, like founding father George Washington did. Many veterans provide 21-gun salutes at ceremonies and parades, and non-naturalized soldiers often pick Presidents’ Day to take their oath of citizenship. Support your local veterans in person this Monday, or make a donation at VVA.org.