I got a text last night from a fellow veteran. It was a simple note from an old friend, “Happy Veterans Day, Kent! Hope all is well with you and the fam; miss you guys.” He’s now a teacher at an inner-city school in Los Angeles. He’s married with two kids. I keep up with them on Instagram, but we rarely take the time to actually have a conversation. I’ll give him a call today. It will be good to catch up.
If today is like past years, I’ll get a few more texts, and maybe a phone call or two, throughout the day. Not all will be from other veterans. In fact, most won’t. Those few calls, texts, emails, etc. are what make this day special. There will be ceremonies, sales, free meals, and discounts. Some people actually still get a day off work. But none of those things are as important as those conversations.
It makes sense. I am proud of my service - it is a big part of who I am. But, like most veterans, I don’t share the experience with many people around me. None of my current work colleagues or neighbors have served in the military. It is nice to be reminded of it, and have the opportunity to talk about it.
More importantly, it’s a reason to catch up with people I have fallen out of touch with. I rarely take the time to pick up the phone and call old friends just to check in. Between work and the hectic lifestyle of a parent with young children, I tend to scroll through a Facebook or Instagram feed every once and a while and feel I’ve done enough to keep in touch. But, as we all know, it isn’t the same.
These Veteran’s Day conversations are both a reminder of my time in the Army, and an opportunity to reconnect with people I care about. Quick phone calls and text exchanges mean more than you would know. They are grounding. They give me perspective on where I have been, and they remind me that I have friends out there thinking about me.
For this reason, I encourage you to take some time, think about any veterans you know, and give them a call or shoot them a note today. They will appreciate it. In fact, it will probably make their day.
And, lastly, it is worth noting that while many veterans are thriving in their post-service careers and lives, many are also suffering. Suicide rates amongst veterans continue to rise. Part of this is caused, amongst other things, by a feeling of isolation. If you can take a moment to cut through that isolation and have a genuine connection, you can make a difference.
Thank you and happy Veterans Day!
COO of First