Thank a vet today

October is almost over and the weather has been for the most part enjoyable.

For 14 months I’ve been writing this column, and each month I receive comments and critiques.

Lately I’ve had mostly the same question asked of me: “Why do you care about veterans?” I also hear, “thank you for your service.”

As far as my service, it was a job. In the early 1980s, the country was in a pretty tight recession. I had no money for secondary education, so first the Navy and later the Army were an escape and a opportunity to further grow as an adult and an opportunity for technical and higher education.

As far as caring about vets, I’ll try to sum it as briefly as possible.

Our first veterans were Revolutionary War soldiers. If not for their dogged determination, we probably would still be colonies of the crown. Again in 1812-14, the next generation of troops and sailors preserved our freedom from a distant aggressor.

The Civil War was fought over slavery, but warriors of both sides also fought valiantly for other beliefs. For the South it was states’ rights and for the North it was to preserve the Union.

The Spanish American War and World War I were distractions on the world’s stage. World War II left a devastation among the population that nearly equaled the Civil War. After that there was Korea, Vietnam, and other smaller confrontations that most recently have arrived at the Gulf Wars.

If not for the gallantry of our WWII veterans, there may not be a United States any more.

I understand that most people think of history as a dull boring topic. But in my opinion history is as important as math or science. Military service is not a 9-to-5 job, and it’s not for everyone. However, the folks who serve – whatever the reason – have stepped out from the crowd and sometimes sacrifice their lives.

Those who return home to their families are often adversely affected by their experiences. Yes, our veterans do deserve special consideration beyond those who have not served. I’ll be the first to admit that there are vets who abuse the system, who never saw combat or experienced its horrors.

There are those who feel they are entitled to benefits they are not due. At the end of this is the stolen valor, with people who parade about with a wall of medals they did not earn.

These are rather sticky points I make. But yes, our veterans should receive acknowledgement, but it is not required that they accept it.

For instance, a large number of stores offer military discounts. I very rarely use them. Often I need to show an extra ID and then the associates will add the discount. I will mention those stores in these columns as I find them. Military service can provide experience that people will otherwise not have, and builds self respect, motivation, drive, endurance and esteem.

When you see a vet, try to imagine the hardships they may have faced during their tour. Perhaps even acknowledge them with a handshake.

Houston resident Keith Ford is a retired infantryman and an amateur writer whose work has appeared in publications around the world. Email

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