In Observance of Veterans Day—2014
Take Time to Thank Our Veterans Every Day
The call to duty to serve in our nation's military is a special one that beckons only the bravest, the strongest and the most determined to defend and protect the freedoms and rights by which we live as a society. Those who answer bring their individual skills and talents to serve alongside others the utmost of honor and distinction. On this Veterans Day of 2014, we as a nation, still with embroiled in conflict and uncertainty in the Middle East and parts of Asia, should and must respectfully salute and thank all members of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy for answering the high call to secure, preserve and protect our freedom.
To those who have served in the past and to those who currently dedicate their very lives to allow us to the privilege of calling America our home, we owe a great debt of gratitude. Chinese American Citizens Alliance calls upon its members, many of whom are veterans of World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War, to pay special tribute to our nation's veterans. Yet today, many still are not afforded the services and benefits to which they were promised. Veterans are disproportionately unable to access the needed medical and mental attention and care through an inefficient, ineffective and poorly managed Veterans Administration, attain retraining and employment opportunities and sadder still, affordable housing and adaptable living conditions to permit them to resume a normal life.
“Whenever I've viewed documentaries of our dedicated servicemen and servicewomen today,” recalled National President Ed Gor, “I am completely overwhelmed by seeing so many under the age of 25 who pilot billion dollar fighter jets, navigate aircraft carriers and battleships with hundreds aboard, operate the precision weaponry and best of all, exhibit the leadership and people skills to execute their assignments as a unit. When today's civilian begins to understand what real work is when our Armed Forces goes to work, then we'll understand the importance of ensuring the nation's promises to them are kept.”
Today, many companies have instituted “Hire Our Heroes” programs as a priority. At Shell's Houston office, two veterans, Andy Chung, a former Army helicopter pilot, and David Lee, a former Marine MP, founded MILNET, Shell's Military Network for military vets. Designed to be a multi-service resource, MILNET locates and hires veterans and offers training, development and mentoring. C.A.C.A. members who have knowledge of similar programs at their places of work can also become sources of referral.
Many of our local lodges count among its members those who served in World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. Why not take time at your next meeting to recognize every veteran in your membership and tell them, “thank you for your service.” As we approach this Veterans Day on November 11, let's show our apreciation to them not only by thanking them personally, but advocating for their care and the rightful benefits they are far overdue to receive. That's what a grateful people living in our free country should do!
My personal note: I have chosen to support the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to honor and empower injured veterans and their families, and in recent years, the USO. For more information, go to www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
I was given the opportunity to earn my college degree because others served in the military for me. Most, of course, I didn't know. However, two boys I went to junior high with were friends who took me in as part of their 3 man comedy routine for the school's annual talent contest. To have these two guys pull a nerdy kid into a comedy routine so he would lighten up was quite an undertaking. After high school, they both were drafted and went to Vietnam. I lost track of David Mitchum, but knew that the soft spoken George (“Boo-Boo”) Colunga was deployed there. Then one day, during summer break, word got around to me that he had been killed earlier that year. I realized then that I was able to go to school—realize a dream—because Boo-Boo had given it all on the battlefield. I visit the Vietnam War Memorial Wall whenever I go to Washington, D.C. and look up his name in the catalog of soldiers who died there and find his name on the wall. He's one of the reasons for me to honor, respect and revere the lives of those who answered the call. Gracias, George!
November 11, 2014