Every November 11, America’s attention and gratitude is focused on the military veterans who have served their country. However, Dr. J.D. Crouch II, the president and CEO of the United Services Organization (USO), emphasizes the importance of continuing to provide support and gratitude to military service members every day.

Dr. Crouch says there are three tenets to follow when supporting veterans: learn something, say something and do something.

  • Learn something: Fewer than 1 percent of Americans serve or have served in the military. Learn something about serving and form connections with those who do.

  • Say something: “If you see a service member, say, ‘Thank you for your service,’” said Dr. Crouch. “That is something that the USO tries to do all the time, and it makes a difference to people.”

  • Do something: There are many organizations that allow civilians to be engaged in helping veterans. Anyone can volunteer, donate or spread the word.

The full picture

Frequently, Dr. Crouch says, people associate military service with wartime, but that neglects a significant portion of America’s troops who remain deployed overseas, stationed in countries all over the world. This can be incredibly isolating for American soldiers.

“Even when wars end, we still have troops stationed overseas. They’re still away from home,” said Dr. Crouch. “When most of us think about life in the military, we think of the risks of life and limb. Of course, that is the reality for some of them, but the fundamental challenge of military life is really one of separation. People are separated from their family and their country, and they’re governed by different laws until they return to civilian life.”

Taste of home

To help address this problem, the USO also has programs that help those in the military celebrate American holidays like Thanksgiving while overseas, also sending care packages geared toward national past times like Super Bowl parties. These small comforts can mean the world to someone feeling isolated in a country that’s not their own.

“We have an all-volunteer force. If we want people to keep volunteering we need to make sure they have that connection back to family, home and country.”

One of the most prevalent issues that veterans face after their service is the difficulty in adjusting to normal life when they return home.

“Veterans need a plan,” said Dr. Crouch, and programs like the USO’s Transition 360 Alliance are designed to tackle those needs. “Research shows that having a community reintegration plan, developing a career path and having family support are the three necessary components for successful veterans.”

Standing up, standing out

More than anything, Dr. Crouch said, the military needs the support of its country, year-round—and the more we can do, the better. “If you want to be engaged, there are great organizations where you can spread the word, you can donate, or you can volunteer your time.

“We have an all-volunteer force,” he said. “If we want people to keep volunteering we need to make sure they have that connection back to family, home and country. It is vital to the nation’s future that we continue to support our military.”