Nowhere is the uniquely American ideal of service more evident than among our military men and women and their families. As we approach Veterans Day and contemplate the return of more than 30,000 soldiers serving in Iraq, I am reminded of the tremendous sacrifices these men and women have made. I'm also moved by their propensity to continue their service by getting involved in their communities.
A recent New York Times article profiled some of these amazing stories and, I think, challenges us to think more deeply about how we not only serve, but also better engage veterans and members of the military.
As part of Points of Light's observance of Veterans Day, our partnership with the White House's Joining Forces initiative and a year-round commitment to engaging and serving the military and veteran communities, Points of Light is inviting Americans to join us by volunteering, taking action in their own communities, learning more about the issues that affect service people and honoring others for their military or community service. Our goal is to generate five million acts of service by Veterans Day 2012.
We will also be honoring veterans, military members and their families throughout the year with the Daily Point of Light Award. People like Ramon Guitard, a Purple Heart recipient who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Baghdad in 2004. Since his recovery, he has become a motivational speaker encouraging those with disabilities to lead independent lives. Like Taryn Davis, who became a widow at age 21 when her husband was killed in Iraq. She started the American Widow Project to provide resources and support to other young widows. And Brittany Bergquist who, at age 13, launched Cell Phones for Soldiers, Inc. to provide cell phones to deployed troops so they can stay in contact with loved ones.
Beginning on Nov. 11, we are elevating the importance of collaborative efforts to support service peoples' unique needs year-round. Our HandsOn Action Centers are conducting projects throughout the year and throughout the country. In addition there are a variety of ways to get involved. Click on the links below to learn more.
- Honor a group or individual for service to their community with a Daily Point of Light award. For Veterans Day, we are highlighting 11 truly inspirational people: wounded veterans, widows of service men, young people, Kids Care Clubs and more. Read the Points of Light blog to see their stories.
- Engage with local military members, veterans and their families by taking advantage of free, online do-it-yourself project toolkits. Projects include creating welcome home cards or starting an oral history project that provides a structure for understanding and talking with veterans and active service members about their experiences.
- Learn about the Community Blueprint Network, a national collaborative initiative, which provides resources, expertise and support for organizations that want to make a greater impact on the issues that most affect active and retired military individuals and families.
- Get involved year-round by discussing issues that service people are facing in your community by holding a Sunday Supper on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, or plan to attend a workshop in the Veterans and Military Families track during the 2012 National Conference on Volunteering and Service. We will be announcing other ways to get involved throughout the year, so stay tuned for more information.
As our veterans and active military personnel have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we all enjoy, I hope you will join me in thanking them for their service and honoring them by serving and taking action in your community.
Yours in service,
CEO, Points of Light