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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Veterans Day 2022

Today, Friday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day.

This small town has upheld a tradition, from the Revolutionary War to the present day, of men and women joining the nation’s armed forces.

Friday will mark 104 years since the end of World War I, the war, it was said, to end all wars. But the armistice signed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 was, in effect, a cease-fire that lasted 20 years until the same warring parties resumed the carnage. And no war, it has been proven time and again, will end war.

Originally known as Armistice Day and observed annually by Americans on Nov. 11, it was declared a national holiday by Congress in 1938. In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veterans Day to honor those living and dead who served in uniform during times of war or peace.

Veterans are in the news this year for many good reasons, including the number who ran for public office, a spike in veteran candidates not seen since the end of World War II.

But other news of those who volunteered to serve their country — 16.5 million as of last year — is not good at all, with suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol abuse continuing to be some of the most common killers of veterans.

Statistically, veterans are over-represented in the general population for homelessness, with some analysts saying vets are 50% more likely to become homeless than their fellow Americans. This is due, analysts say, to poverty and a lack of strong support networks.

What the statistics tell us loud and clear is that this a national disgrace.

Despair on the part of some who served, and a lack of focused outreach on the citizenry at large has produced a higher risk for veterans of suicide.

Let’s hope that those already serving in public office, and those just elected, never forget their brothers and sisters in arms in their times of struggle. And every American must never forget those among us who served their country. 

To honor veterans everywhere, remember them today, and every day..