November 11, Veterans Day, honors and celebrates the service of all military veterans. With respect, honor, and gratitude: thank you for your patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. You heard the call of duty and left the lives you knew to answer it.
When we think of veterans, we think of our friends and family. But veterans also include dogs, horses, pigeons, elephants, mules, camels, bald eagles, and canaries. Animals worked alongside their human partners in trenches, in battles, and at sea. They detected danger, passed messages, rescued their humans, ran supplies, fought in battle, and served as mascots, morale boosters, and comfort in a time of need. They helped keep their human companions safe and whole in body, mind, and spirit.
Veterans, we hope you know that our appreciation isn’t just hollow words for those of you who have given so much. The cost of serving is high and your service and sacrifice has earned much more than a single day. How can we honor veterans beyond Veterans Day? A few suggestions:
- Support local, state, and national efforts to make sure veterans get the things they were promised for their service. Three things that come to my mind? College benefits, VA medical (could we please fix the system?), and making sure that military ID counts as voter ID. We have to do better. We should do better.
- Record your story or listen to someone else’s story: https://storycorps.org/initiative/military-voices/. This is an amazing way to honor veterans. If you are a veteran and can, please contribute. If you aren’t a veteran, listen.
Get help or donate to an organization that helps
- K9’s for Veterans Day: https://www.k9sforwarriors.org/. Help provide service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD.
- Dogs on Deployment: https://www.dogsondeployment.org/. Support your troops by boarding their pets when they are on deployment!
- Show Your Stripes: http://www.showyourstripes.org/. Show Your Stripes helps connect veterans with jobs, generates awareness around the issue of veteran unemployment, and encourages businesses to hire veterans.
- National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: http://www.nchv.org/. Veterans are over-represented in the homeless population for a number of complex reasons. Learn more about this issue and how you can help.
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: http://www.taps.org/. Connect family members who have lost loved ones with others who understand and have been there.
The Animals of War
Would you like to learn more about animal veterans? Our history is inseparable from the history of the animals we love and have brought everywhere with us, including to war. A few links:
This is an incredible story about a young man and the injured kestrel falcon that became his friend and companion — and eventually accompanied him to war and to POW camps, where she saved his life on at least two occasions: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/3364580-the-lure-of-the-falcon.
War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KK4FL3C/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2. An Amazon editor’s pick for best history and a must-read for anyone who loves dogs or is interested in military and books about war and deployment.