BIRNEY K. SUMMERS: ‘A veteran’s service has no expiration date’

By BIRNEY K. SUMMERS
Guest Columnist

No matter what branch you served in, whether you were peacetime or wartime, whatever your job path or how many years you served, raising your hand and committing yourself to service in the military was a brave and selfless act.

Thanks to those who have served and those who continue to serve today, America can sleep peacefully at night. Military men and women know the risks, but they accept them so others won’t have to.

When these men and women return home, or a service member hangs up their uniform one final time, the call to service does not abruptly end. Former service members oftentimes feel compelled to continue to serve their community and its citizens.

This is evidenced by the tragedy that occurred last month in Las Vegas, Nev. Among the terrible carnage were stories of bravery and selflessness in the face of danger and death. Several of those credited with shielding and helping their fellow concertgoers were, in fact, veterans.

One of those people was Taylor Winston. Amidst the chaos and gunfire, the DAV life member jumped into action and found a vehicle to transport more than 20 wounded concertgoers to an area hospital.

Working to save lives was a gut reaction for the Maine Corps veteran.

Over time, every enlistment or commission comes to an end, but a veteran’s service has no expiration date. We should be grateful not only for their time in the military, but for all they do to continue to give back to their country and its citizens long after their discharge is signed.

Vocalizing our gratitude to veterans is a good start, but illustrating our thanks is most impactful with actions.

In this part of Michigan, you can ensure veterans can get to their medical appointments by serving as a volunteer driver. Locally, volunteer drivers are needed to drive the three DAV provided vans to take veterans to their medical appointments.

In some communities, folks volunteer their time at VA hospitals and clinics. Even though we do not live near a VA facility, there are still many ways to give back. You can go grocery shopping or run errands for veterans in this community or do yard work, rake leaves, shovel snow or help paint a veteran’s home. There are needs that you can help fulfill.

As a community we need to develop an organized way of connecting volunteers with veterans that need help.

For my fellow veterans: You have the ability to connect with a veteran in a way that is unique to those of us who wore the uniform. By joining organizations like DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and getting involved. I encourage you to seek out your brothers and sisters in arms, get to know them and ensure they know you’ve got their six.

DAV exists solely to help veterans achieve a more fulfilling life by helping them attain their earned benefits and health care, find employment and provide or receive assistance.

Please feel free to visit our local chapter website at DAV43.com to find out more about what we do for veterans and ways you can help.

Thank you for taking time this Veterans Day on Saturday, Nov. 11 to remember our heroes that are still among us. They never gave up on us, and we can’t give up on them.

God bless you all, bless our veterans and bless the United States of America.

Birney K. Summers is the Commander of the Salt City DAV Chapter No. 43.

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