Giving thanks to all those who have served

Dear Friend,

Today is Veterans Day, a day to celebrate all those who have served our country in the Armed Forces, and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of protecting our nation.

As a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserves who served three tours on active-duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, Veterans Day has always been personal for my family. Veterans Day is a great day to reach out to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who served and thank them for their service.

It’s also a good chance to rededicate ourselves to those service members, veterans, and military families who, because of their service, still need our help today.

A few weeks back I had the honor of welcoming U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough to Wilmington for my annual Veterans’ Summit to discuss how we can better address the mental health needs of our veterans, and prevent suicide in the veteran community.

Joined by Senator Chris Coons, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, and representatives from Delaware’s Veteran Service Organizations, we also visited a memorial outside the Wilmington VA hospital, where 660 American flags stood – one for every veteran who dies by suicide each month in America. Every flag represented a father or mother, a son or daughter who bravely served our country, but who faced challenges upon returning home.

It was a stark reminder of the battles so many of our veterans – and their families – are still fighting years after active-duty service. And it was a reminder for days like today, that on top of remembering their sacrifice, we need to do more for our veterans. If you or a veteran you know needs help, please reach out to the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.

Every day, but especially today, we as a nation have to ask, how can we better care for those who served our country and their families? How can we better serve those who have so honorably served us, particularly when it comes to improving access to mental health care services?

Because there’s no greater tell of a nation’s character than how they treat their veterans.

Here in Delaware in the past year, we opened a beautiful, new Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Dover to better serve veterans in Kent County, and have increased the amount of mental health professionals on staff. And the Wilmington VA Medical Center has partnered with the University of Delaware to research better ways to take care of veterans from their customer service to their best practices for patient care.

I hope you’ll all join me this Veteran Day in taking a moment to stop and thank those who have served, and those still serving.

God bless America.

Tom Carper