Monday, November 11, is Veterans Day. We set this day aside to thank the men and women who have served and are still in the service of our country. We thank them for the sacrifice that both they and their families have made, so that we can remain the land of the free, the home of the brave.
President George Washington showed remarkable insight when he spoke about the country’s treatment of veterans: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
What have you done for a veteran you know?
In this week’s Post, we have a special section featuring the men and women who have served during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are the Hometown Heroes that we run in our paper throughout the year. If you see one of these veterans, or know one who served during another era, please be sure to thank them!
Click link below to download our special Veteran’s Day Tribute.
One family, one Veteran, two heroes
(NewsUSA) – From the perspective of many veterans, their military service is merely a duty. They were doing their job. They don’t look in the mirror and see a hero. When wounded Air Force sergeant Tom Marcum returned home from Iraq, he was his family’s hero every day. But his wife April would soon step up to become the second hero in the Marcum family.
Tom’s injuries were extensive, and the impact on April and their two sons was enormous. In two years, Tom endured four separate mortar explosions. He faced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), hearing loss, vision problems and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). April faced a whole new reality. Her days were a flurry of doctor appointments, therapy and home healthcare, not to mention raising two boys. For 18 months straight, she was the sole nurse, driver, maid and mother to three. She had to meet her husband—a friend since grade school—all over again.
“I missed the help my husband gave me with the kids and errands,” says April. “And some time to myself. I don’t like to admit this, but I think I was close to a breaking point in my own emotional health.”
Due to Tom’s brain injury, he wasn’t the same man whom April married. He experienced behaviorial changes, mood swings and memory loss that he could not control. Despite the tenacity of her love for him, April was nearing her breaking point until she got a call from Wounded Warrior Project. April went to a Spouse Retreat hosted by WWP, where she was able to meet other people in situations like hers.
“I made some deep, emotional connections with several women,” April says. “It was just the right thing at just the right time. I came home ready to get back into the fight again. I was re-energized and happy when I came home.”
Both Tom and his sons, Gabe and Jared, saw a positive change in their mom after the retreat. Slowly but surely, the family knit itself back together through love, humor and fierce dedication. As Tom says, “Family is our lifeline.” Wounded Warrior Project has 19 programs and services to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment for injured service members from post-9/11 conflicts. Learn more at woundedwarriorproject.org.
Recognizing American Indian and Alaskan Native Veterans
(NAPS)—According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 150,000 American Indian and Alaskan Native veterans throughout the United States. The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress invites these men and women to share their unique stories of military experience.
Established by the U.S. Congress in 2000, VHP’s mandate is to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand recollections of America’s wartime veterans. Through a network of volunteers from across the country, the Project has collected nearly 89,000 stories, making it the largest oral history project in the country.
VHP seeks to increase the number of veteran interviews from all minority communities, including American Indian and Alaskan Native veterans. Among VHP’s 250 oral histories from the American Indian and Alaskan Native veterans are the stories of Joseph Beimfohr and Marcella Ryan Le Beau, both American Indians who served in the U.S. military.
Joseph Beimfohr served in the Army during the Iraq/Afghanistan War. When he deployed to Iraq in January 2005, he was exposed to intense hostile fire. During his VHP interview, Beimfohr said, “You can’t just sit there and be paralyzed with fear, because you’re going to get everybody killed.” What he learned from his experiences was that soldiers have to trust their training and instincts. He lost both legs to an explosion, and Beimfohr subsequently learned that the only limitations in his life were self-imposed.
In 1943, Marcella Le Beau had just finished her nurse’s training in her native South Dakota and was working at a hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, when she heard about the Army’s need for nurses. A year later, she was camped out in a cow pasture in Normandy, in the wake of the D-Day invasion, on her way to Paris. “I was young and I didn’t know what war was… I guess in a way that was a saving grace,” Le Beau said. She never encountered discrimination because of her background; in fact, when colleagues learned that her great-grandfather was a Chief, they assumed she must be an “Indian princess.”
Beimfohr’s and Le Beau’s stories, along with thousands more, may be accessed on VHP’s website, www.loc.gov/vets. The website also provides information on how to record and collect veterans’ stories using VHP’s free Field Kit, a how-to-record-a-story booklet.
Civilian life can be costly: Money tips for those leaving the military
(BPT) – No right-thinking person would ever claim that the financial side of military life is the land of milk and honey. Even so, military life provides some perks that don’t exist in the civilian world.
If you’re active-duty military and thinking about getting out soon, it pays to understand how your personal financial landscape will change when Uncle Sam is no longer issuing your paychecks.
First, don’t overlook the not-so-small matter of finding a suitable place to begin your post-military career. Take a look at the 2013 Best Places for Veterans: Jobs list for metro areas that offer America’s new generation of veterans more opportunities to find a job that correlates with their military-related skills. Houston, Dallas and Minneapolis landed the top spots in the study, commissioned by USAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program.
Once you secure that civilian gig, here are two specific areas where USAA Certified Financial Planner Scott Halliwell predicts you’ll see the biggest differences in benefits and pay.
No more tax-free allowances: If you’ve been in the military for any length of time, you’ve no doubt realized some of your pay comes to you free of tax. Basic allowance for subsistence (BAS) and basic allowance for housing (BAH) are two of the most common sources. What you may not realize is just how much of your hard-earned cash this tax treatment saves you.
For example, a married E-6 living in San Antonio who has one child and has been serving for more than 10 years would have a taxable base pay just shy of $39,600 annually. His non-taxable BAS and BAH would total just more than $21,300. Looked at another way, about 35 percent of this family’s income would be free from taxes. If this BAS/BAH combo was instead taxable, the service member and his family could lose around $250 each month to taxes – and that’s just in federal taxes. State taxes, if applicable, could make it even more.
In other words, civilian pay and military pay are not an apples-to-apples comparison, so you’ve got to plan accordingly.
No more free health insurance: And while a couple hundred bucks a month is nothing to sneeze at, that could just be the tip of the iceberg. Health insurance in the military is, to put it lightly, very cost-effective. Not everyone is always thrilled with how the whole system works, but you just can’t get much more cost-effective than free.
In the civilian world, the average cost for employer-based insurance plans for a family of four is around $1,300 per month, according to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The good news is that most folks don’t have to foot that entire amount. Civilian employers typically subsidize these costs so that the average monthly employee expense is about 28 percent, or $360 per month. Even so, costs for health care can vary widely from one employer to the next.
Also, it’s important to know these numbers are just the premiums employees pay for the insurance. The numbers don’t include co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles you might have to pay. The national average for these expenses for a family of four is about $3,600 per year, according to a study reported in the Milliman Medical Index. When you add these costs to the insurance premiums you’ll have to pay, health care-related costs can easily be one of the single biggest cash outflows each month for civilians. And that’s without adding in expenses for vision and dental care.
These are just two of the big financial changes people face when they leave the military, but they aren’t the only ones, so it’s important to have a solid game plan in place ahead of time. To help build out a plan, spend some time with the Separation Assessment Tool and the Separation Checklist on usaa.com.
Eleven ways to honor veterans this Veterans Day
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) calls on the citizens of Michigan to honor wartime veterans across the nation through a day of remembrance and dedication this Veterans Day. There are countless ways to honor veterans this Veterans Day and every day. Here are eleven ideas to get you started:
Attend a Veterans Day event in your area. View our list at http://1.usa.gov/1coJMt6.
Encourage a veteran in your life to apply for VA benefits by contacting an MVAA service officer at 517-284-5298;
Send notes or thank you cards to a local veterans home or hospital
Visit or volunteer at a local veterans home or hospital.
Take part in a flag-raising ceremony in honor of local veterans.
Be a good friend or neighbor to the family of a deployed military service member.
Visit a nearby battleground.
Take part in a service project benefiting veterans in your community.
Watch or take part in a Veterans Day parade.
Assemble and send care packages to deployed service members.
Donate to a veterans’ charity.
The observance of Veterans Day helps focus attention on the intended purpose of this day—to celebrate the honor of America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
“On Veterans Day, we honor and thank all the brave men and women who have served our nation,” said MVAA Director Jeff Barnes. “We set aside this day each year to make sure our veterans know how grateful we are for the sacrifices they have made to protect our freedom.”
Since 1919, Americans have dedicated the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month to veterans – a tribute to the day and time that the armistice was signed, effectively ending World War I. Following this day, veterans have continued to show their loyalty and dedication in protecting our nation. In return, and with great honor, the MVAA extends Michigan’s gratitude through the continued preservation of November 11th.
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency serves as the central coordinating point, connecting those who have served in the United States Armed Forces and their families, to services and benefits throughout the state of Michigan. MVAA is responsible for administration and operation of the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program, Michigan Homes for Veterans, constituent service or referral and the state’s grant to chartered veterans’ service organizations and the Michigan Association of County Veterans Counselors.