Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military — in wartime or peacetime.
Memorial Day is deeply personal for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, about half (47%) of whom served with a comrade that had been killed; that number rises to 62% among soldiers who were in combat. The psychological stress of war is just one reason that as many as 20% of veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Worse still, America's war veterans are dying because of long waits and delayed care at veterans’ hospitals.
Perhaps one reason why America is failing to look after its veterans is that American civilians are more disconnected from the military than ever before. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that in the past decade, less than 1 percent of the U.S. population has been on active military duty. Both the military and the general public agree that Americans don’t understand military life. 84% of post-9/11 veterans say the public does not understand the problems that those in the military face. Nevertheless, public pride in our soldiers is at an all-time high: the American military has become the most respected institution in the nation.
America’s veterans are making the country proud even after active duty. Veterans own 9% of all US businesses and employ over 5 million American workers. Veterans are also more likely than the average American to have earned a high school diploma, which is one reason why their annual income is about $10,000 higher than the average American.
Think you know the realities of America’s veterans? Find out in this quiz.