We all remember September 11, 2001...being shocked beyond belief at what was unfolding in front of our eyes via television, radio...even in person for some of us. We all remember walking around in shock, trying to find our sea legs, waiting for what would come next.
What we don't often reflect on -- and what we're going to challenge you to do here -- is remember what it was like on September 12, 2001.
We woke to an uncertain world, for the first time afraid for what was ahead. Were we at war? Was it going to happen again? After all, no one had attacked the United States on this scale since December 7, 1942.
What we found, as we ventured out into a brave new world that day, was something almost whimsical. We stood in line at grocery stores, walked down the street, sat in traffic...whatever we were doing...we had a connection with everyone else. We were all compassionate, concerned, thoughtful citizens. The American Flag meant something more. Our men and women in uniform...military, law enforcement, fire fighters...took on a brilliance that wasn't immediately obvious just a few days prior.
Many of our friends and family members answered the call and enlisted to serve our country. Our military moved from peacetime to war, deploying and uncertain of what was to come. Here at home, we were supporting our troops and proudly flying our flag.
Time has a funny way of marching on, though. Eleven years later, combat operations in Iraq have ceased, but we still wage a war in Afghanistan. Many of our brave men and women have seen multiple deployments, some to both theatres of combat. In the past 11 years, nearly two million people have become veterans.
So, what does 9/11 look like now?
- Nearly 2,000 have lost a limb
- Well over 200,000 have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Tens of thousands have at least one TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
- Over 6,400 heroes have made the Ultimate Sacrifice
- For every one battlefield death, there are 25 veteran suicides
While these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg, they paint a very clear picture of the cost of war. Our heroes and their families are suffering and it's more than the VA can handle. In fact, it's estimated that nearly 60% of all VA claims are backlogged and it's only going to get worse.
So....what do we do? To be very honest, it's time for us to wake up and remember 9/12. We need to really think about what the day after September 11, 2001 meant to us and go find it again. Take care of one another and start finding ways to help. If you don't know much about the struggles our heroes face, take the time to educate yourself. Then pay it forward and help someone else. We simply cannot wait for our government to find the answers...we've got to take charge and do it now.
We’ve added a new section to our website outlining specific ways you can help right now. Titled the 9/11/01 Project, it offers a complete Community Action Packet which will help organizations develop ways to help veterans and families they interact with daily and educate others on challenges our heroes face. It also gives you ways to involve your children and even a custom “tweet” to share for those of you who use Twitter. You can visit the Project here.
This new section also challenges you to reach deep inside and remember the feelings of 9/12 and the days following...and turn those feelings into art. We’ll have a traditional blog project but we’ll also be featuring a “photo blog” titled Found Patriotism: Remembering 9/11 that aims to capture the feelings of not only 9/11, but the times since then and even the times before. Any photo that speaks to you in a patriotic manner is something we want to see and hope that you will share. So dust off the photo albums, go shoot pictures and start writing...even break out the sketchpad and draw! You can email your submissions to photos-at-familyofavet.com and we’ll begin posting them soon.
Are you up to the challenge?
Social Media Coordinator
Family Of a Vet, Inc