As individual citizens, our pact with veterans is entirely moral. No law requires us to respect them. No legislation tells us we have to thank them.  Notwithstanding that fact, here in the United States we have done more for our veterans than any other nation — even when we fall short of our own ambition.  As veterans return to pursue well-deserved happy and fulfilling lives, we should make sure they and their families are welcomed back into the fabric of our communities.

Perspective

Think about what they accomplished. They built bridges that connected societies. They helped replace chaos and fear with a measure of stability. They are team members and team builders whose experiences tell us what it means to be a citizen in a democracy. Our future depends on how well we engage with them.

Every day, there are moments Americans take for granted, but none measure up to the daunting obstacles these men and women dealt with. Is it cold outside? Try working in below freezing temperatures on the side of a mountain. When you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t have to worry about explosives along your route. The next time you face a difficult deadline, think about what it’s like racing to support teammates who are under attack.

Today’s veterans are the best trained in our history. Their work ethic was honed in extreme situations. They are the ones we should be hiring, encouraging and mentoring. They know what it means to show up on time and deliver on a promise.

"More than 40,000 troops have been visibly wounded in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some estimate more than 300,000 troops are living with invisible wounds, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury."

Universal dedication

Now it’s our turn to deliver, and that will require the collaboration among government agencies, nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, private sector companies, community clubs, veterans’ organizations and caring individuals across the nation.

Welcome them back home—back to the lives they worked so hard to preserve for us. They’ll be in our houses of worship. Their children will be in our schools. They will provide strong structural steel for our future and add real value to businesses in our communities. It’s up to us to provide for them the opportunities past generations guaranteed for us.