Cyndi's Two Cents

Thank them for their service


Thank you for your service. Those five words mean so much to men and women serving or who have served in the military.

Each year on November 11, rural and urban communities across the country host parades and ceremonies to honor those who served. Many of us have friends or family members that served in the military. There are about 17.9 million veterans today, which represents approximately 6.8% of the U.S. citizenry ages eighteen and older.

When and where did they serve? According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • 7.8 million living U.S. veterans, or 43%, served in the Gulf War era.
  • 5.6 million living veterans (30%) served during the Vietnam War era from 1950 to 1973.
  • Around 767,000 veterans who served during the Korean conflict in the 1940s and 1950s are alive today. They make up 4% of all living veterans.
  • Fewer than 120,000 World War II veterans are alive today, making up less than 1% of all living veterans.

According to research conducted by the Pew Institute, fewer members of Congress are veterans than in the past. An analysis of the 118th Congress conducted following the 2022 congressional elections showed that eighty members, or 18.4% of total membership, have served in the military in some capacity. That is up from seventy-five, or 17.2% in the previous U.S. House of Representatives.

Seventeen senators, or 17% of the senate, are veterans, unchanged from the previous U.S. Senate, but down significantly from previous years. Between 1965 and 1975, about 70% of members in each chamber were veterans.

Data from the most recent Census of Agriculture shows that 17% of all farms had a producer who served or is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Farms operated by producers with military service accounted for 11% of total U.S. agriculture sales, with 53% ($22 billion) in crop sales and 47% ($19 billion) in sales of livestock and livestock products.

Numbers. Data. Statistics. This column reads more like an analysis instead of a commentary, but these numbers should mean something to us as a country and as individual citizens. These numbers, this data, represent men and women who have served in a branch of the military and put their lives on the line to protect our democracy, freedom, and our values.

There are more numbers, sadly, that are heartbreaking to share:

According to the National Association of American Veterans, there are about 40,401 homeless veterans in the United States today. There are approximately 2.1 million veterans with mental health issues.

Although saying those five words “Thank you for your service” is meaningful, let us be mindful of not only using words, but taking action to thank all the men and women serving or who have served in the United State Armed Forces.

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