Consider veterans' sacrifice as we move into the future

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We honor different types of people on various "Days" throughout the year, from Mothers and Fathers to grandparents and sweethearts.

None is more important than today, Veterans Day, when we honor the 23 million military veterans with whom we share citizenship today.

More than 9 million of them are of retirement age or older, with 2.6 million serving in World War II. Nearly 8 million served in the Vietnam era, 5.2 million during the Gulf Wars, 2.8 million in Korea and 6 million in peacetime.

And they paid the price.

Some 5.5 million have disabilities, 3.4 million with service-connected disabilities. Of those, 588,000 are 70 percent disabled or higher.

Nearly 2.9 million veterans receive compensation for service-connected disabilities, for a cost of $36.2 billion, with 84.4 billion total federal government spending for veterans benefits programs.

But the numbers, of course, don't tell the entire story.

Lives interrupted, careers delayed, relationships sacrificed are all part of military service.

Those are the costs we should contemplate most as we consider increased in volvement in Afghanistan and the future of Iraq.

And, they are the sacrifices we should consider most as we determine the future of the nation for which they were made.

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