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Hundreds of missed moments

By Jen Jaqua

The birth of a child, birthdays, holidays, a child’s first steps, the funeral of a loved one, anniversaries, high school graduations, parent-teacher meetings, a cancer diagnosis, an open heart surgery, dozens of bed time stories and morning kisses.

What do all these things have in common? They are all moments, happy or sad, common or once in a lifetime, that members of the military miss on a daily basis.

Thousands of men and women have signed the dotted line, left the comfort of their homes and skipped important moments of life to serve in the U.S. military. Some serve four years, some give 30 or more. Once the time is served, they return to the civilian world, forever changed. Some have physical scars, some have mental scars, but all are forever changed.

There are approximately 18 million people in the United States who can call themselves a veteran. These men and women served on ships, and on bases around the world. They served in times of war and in times of peace. They took part in police actions, secret missions and humanitarian efforts. While serving they faced fear, loneliness and isolation. Once they are out, many of those emotions still linger and haunt them for life.

For many, the ability to adjust and find a place in a world so different from the life of discipline they were accustomed to never happens. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 40,056 homeless veterans living in the U.S. in a single night in January. Those are individuals who gave up part of their life to serve their country and now are without a place to call home. Every day, 20 veterans end the struggle by suicide. Brave men and women who by signing that dotted line committed their lives to their country survive military service only to lose the battle of life by their own hand.

Others seem to fit right into the world around them. You may not even realize they are veterans. In your workplace, there may be one or more of these unsung heroes, they are often the hardest-working, most dedicated people in the workplace. The discipline that controlled their lives while in the military still drives them to perform at the highest level.

Veterans can be found in every corner of the country, in every job field and socio-economic circle. There is no such thing as a standard veteran. Every veteran deserves all the discounts, honors and recognition given. One day a year to recognize the hundreds of missed moments is not too much to ask. Take a moment Nov. 11 to honor the veterans in your life. The few moments that it takes to recognize the sacrifice they gave may be just the breakthrough needed to give that veteran the strength to keep going another day.

JEN JAQUA is a U.S. Navy veteran and the page designer for the Suffolk News-Herald. She can be reached at 934-9612 or jen.jaqua@suffolknewsherald.com.