Think back over all of the holiday seasons you have had in your life. I feel pretty sure that most of them were better than those spent by veterans in combat, or veterans far from home, or veterans in transit from one posting to another. Now consider all the veterans that you have ever known and try to remember their griping and moaning about Christmas at home, no matter whatever the circumstances might have been.
We have been blessed in the United States with much more than many places in other parts of the world have. I think of the many people in Aleppo, Syria, whose own government is annihilating them by the thousands. We are so blessed in so many ways and some of these blessings come directly from the women and men who have served to protect our country.
If you give the matter some thought, I am certain that you know a veteran (or veterans). It might be old Uncle George in the retirement home. It might be your one of your parents or grandparents. Perhaps your veteran is a person in your church or your neighborhood. You may even have a brother or sister who can proudly wear the title of VETERAN. Somebody you know has been in the military, perhaps in a wartime setting.
Let us combine the veteran(s) that you know and the holidays that you remember. Perhaps this Christmas of 2016 would be a good time to do or say something to your veteran. Why don’t you and your family choose a veteran (or more than one) and give them some special attention this year. You could do one or more of the following things:
•Buy a special holiday card and send it to that special veteran
•Call a veteran on or before Christmas and tell them you are thinking about them and want them to have a happy holiday
•Visit a veteran and share your feelings directly;
•Buy a special present for a veteran (my shirt size is on file at the North Jefferson News – just kidding!);
•Invite a single veteran to share your Christmas dinner with you
•Visit one of the veterans homes near Jefferson County
•Visit the Veterans Administration Hospital and talk with some of the lonely vets there
•Add the name (or names) of your special veteran (s) to your prayer list or mention them at your church
•Donate to the Disabled Veterans Association (DMV), the American Legion (located in Fultondale). The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW, the Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA) or some other vet-centered organization
•Write a letter to your elected officials, at every level, encouraging them to be supportive of veterans and programs that are positive about military service.
I am sure that there are many other good things that you can do to show your appreciation for those who have given us all so much. Just a few minutes will mean the world to some forgotten veteran and will do you a lot of good too.
You will also be setting an excellent example for your children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews. I have mentioned before that many of today’s young people have no concept of what public or military service is all about. Please adopt a veteran this year and do something that will change their life and yours!
Please remember to nominate a veteran for The North Jefferson News VETERAN OF THE MONTH. Each month of the upcoming year will feature a veteran (chosen at random) for this honor. In addition to being highlighted in our newspaper, the Panera Bread in Gardendale will honor the chosen veteran of the month with a free meal. Send those veteran names to us at P.O. Box 849, Gardendale, AL 35071 or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.