This issue is the last NJN of October 2019. Thursday is October 31 (Halloween) and the day of our Veterans-Information Table at the Fultondale Public Library from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. The next day, Friday is November 1 and the start of what many of us consider VETERANS MONTH! On Monday, November 11, we will (and hopefully you will) celebrate VETERANS DAY, 2019. Fultondale and other North Jefferson communities will be having a special event and many of us should be and will be at some of these.
Many veterans and veterans organizations say clearly that every day of the year should be Veterans Day. I certainly believe that. November, however, has become a special month and we have a chance to honor those who fought and served to honor the rest of the USA. November is also Military Family Month as well as Veterans in the Classroom Month. So let’s not just show respect for veterans but for their families and their classroom efforts!
Let’s look at some information about Veterans Day (note that there is no apostrophe in Veterans Day).
- Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day commemorating the end of World War I (so-called the Great War) when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The actual Armistice was to take place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
- In 1928, the US Congress officially recognized November 11, 1918 as the war’s end.
- In 1938, November 11 became an official holiday set aside to honor Veterans of WWI. After WW11 and Korea, in 1954, with pressure from veterans groups, “armistice” was changed to “veterans.”
- For a brief time, Veterans Day was a Monday on the fourth Monday of October, but in 1971 many states wanted November 11 to be the date. In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a public law which returned Veterans Day to November 11, starting in 1978. (By the way Canada and Australia celebrate November as “Remembrance Day.”)
Some good news from the Department of Defense for disabled veterans – Starting in January, 2020 an estimated 3 million more disabled veterans will be able to shop online at on-base commissaries and PXs (which are known for tax-free buying). Any honorably discharged Veteran with any VA disability from 0% to 90% can shop at military bases. (Previously only those with 100% disability rating were allowed this privilege.) Interested veterans should contact their patient advocates at the Birmingham VA.
Also, all honorably discharged veterans are allow to shop their military exchanges online, tax-free for life. (Contact shopmyexchange.com/vets for information about this new benefit for all honorably discharged veterans).
On a note for those veterans who smoke—in 2020, no USA VA will allow smoking. This new policy was started in October 2019, but it only applied to veterans, visitors, volunteers, contractors and venders. Now the ban becomes universal at VAs. Help for quitting smoking can be gotten at www.mentalhealth.va/quit-tobacco.
We are blessed in North Jefferson County with a number of Veterans Day programs. Check with your own community and discover who’s doing what. I know you won’t regret. Another idea would be for you to find a veteran friend and buy their lunch on or around Veterans Day (you can reach me at the NJN)!
As a chill begins to fill the air, remember the chills that veterans felt in combat and in foreign-service often in unwelcoming places. Remember the chills that veteran families often had to go through when phone calls came that might mean death of injury to their veteran-loved ones.
In your prayers, remember our veterans and their families and currently serving military members. You might also want to say a word of thanks for those who went so that our country might remain free!
May God Bless our Vveterans and their families, our active duty personnel, our first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, teachers and clergy) and most of all May God Bless YOU!
Gerald “Joe” Stahlkuppe is a combat Army veteran of the Vietnam War. An ordained clergyman, public speaker and author of several books, he lives with his wife in Gardendale.
Questions or veterans issues you would like to see addressed in the column can be directed to Stahlkuppe at P.O. Box 849, Gardendale, AL 35071 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.