The news is filled daily with accounts of conflict around the globe … notably Russia’s war against Ukraine, but other potential clashes bubble near the surface, such as military action by China against Taiwan, or a North Korean missile aimed at Japan.

We cannot know for sure what this unsettled era will bring. But we do know that we are blessed with the strongest, bravest and best-trained guardians a nation can have: the individuals who wear the military uniform of the United States of America.

For nearly 250 years, our courageous, brave and selfless veterans have stood up for the nation’s defense, protecting their countrymen and America’s founding ideals at great personal cost. They have left their loved ones behind, many have served in war zones for months or years and — tragically — many have suffered serious injuries and lasting wounds, both physical and mental.

Our veterans are those who answered the call in President Kennedy’s inaugural address to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty."

We owe a great debt to all who have served.

America’s hospitals and health systems have long supported our troops and our veterans.

The AHA believes a strong partnership between hospitals and health systems and the Department of Veterans Affairs is essential to ensure our nation’s veterans receive the health care they need and deserve. And we continue to work with the VA to ensure veterans have access to the care they need, when they need it.

In addition, many hospitals and health systems go to special lengths to hire veterans, putting their skills and hard-earned leadership qualities into the service of healing.

For example, Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles brought in its first full-time military veteran recruiter, Stephen Bettini, who is a veteran himself. He helps veterans and their spouses navigate life after the military and establish careers in the health system. "They have a great set of skills we want to tap, and they are focused on mission. That's who we need here," Bettini says.

On the other side of the country, Main Line Health in Pennsylvania makes a point of sharing the stories and inspiration from the veterans it employs, highlighting the qualities of trust, integrity, respect and collaboration they bring to the organization.

The AHA also is committed to honoring and supporting our military members, veterans and their families. This year we have partnered with Musicians on Call to give AHA member hospitals early access to a virtual concert honoring veterans. The concert features well-known artists, and hospitals can share it with the veterans who work at their organizations. In addition, every year we recognize outstanding health care executives in the federal health care system and we have developed resources to help hospitals hire returning veterans, who — no surprise — are some of the hardest working and most dedicated employees out there.

Not every organization may be able to offer a deserving veteran a job. But every one of us can offer thanks and gratitude to those sentinels who have stood watch to keep our nation safe and continue to protect us each and every day.

From all of us here at the AHA, thank you to every veteran who has defended our country … and our freedom.

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