Today is Veterans’ Day, and I want to start with a giant thank you to everyone who has fought for the freedom of their fellow human beings.  And a second thank you to their families for living without their loved ones for extended periods of time, and sometimes forever.

I’m a Navy Brat; my dad is a Vietnam Vet and was a career naval officer.  I’m so proud of him and thankful for his service.  I know what it’s like to grow up with your parent sometimes there and sometimes not, although Daddy always made an extreme effort to be present, even when he was half a world away.  (I still have the postcards he sent from “Lt. Cdr. Daddy,” “Cdr. Daddy,” and finally “Capt. Daddy.”)  And while he was working his rear off in situations I can’t fathom, Mom was doing the job of two parents, working full time, and often going to school as well.  Oh, and she dealt with cancer, too.  (And Daddy dealt with being thousands of miles away from his wife with cancer.)  So, like I said – thank you to our veterans, and thank you to their families.

I want to write tonight about some other vets.  The ones who rarely get thank you’s, even on Veterans’ Day.  There are two words that should never exist in tandem, but they do: Homeless Veteran.  Men and women who fought for our country and didn’t have the luxury of families to help them through what became the pain of reentry into society.  Or who were wounded and without benefits.  Or, or, or…

I know times are tough, but if you have space in your budget for a charitable contribution, I urge you to find your local shelter that supports homeless veterans and make a donation.  Winter is coming…stop by the store and pick up a few hats, scarves, gloves and blankets and drop them by.  These shelters receive little government assistance, and when the economy takes a downturn, donors are few.