Elmer Davis — journalist, author and director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II — once said, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
The bravery and dedication to protecting our nation of the individuals who wear the military uniform of the United States of America has never been a question.
For nearly 250 years, our courageous 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.
In this tense time with conflict around the globe, we appreciate anew the resilience, readiness and willingness to stand firm of America’s armed forces.
We owe a great debt to all who have served and who are serving today.
That debt has been recognized from the start. The Revolutionary War saw the first pensions granted to some veterans, and the first federal hospital dedicated to the care of disabled and elderly soldiers was established in 1811.
Likewise, 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.
For example, we have made it a priority to spread the word among hospitals and health systems of available VA resources, especially in the area of mental health, such as free online training to help community health care providers counsel veterans at risk for suicide about secure storage of firearms and other lethal means, which can help save lives. And we continue to share insights and ideas with our federal colleagues about potential solutions to challenges common to all care providers, including workforce shortages and retention.
In addition, veterans are a great fit for the health care field, and many hospitals and health systems go to special lengths to hire veterans, putting their skills and mission-driven leadership qualities into the service of healing.
For example, Arizona-based HonorHealth and Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic are among the increasing number of care providers that have adopted the Department of Defense’s Skillbridge Program to offer service members valuable civilian work experience and the opportunity gain employment skills, knowledge and abilities that open doors to job opportunities in the civilian sector.
In addition, AHA is urging potential health care employers to capitalize on the unique strengths of veterans. This week we released updates to our Workforce Strategies Guide, which includes a new chapter specifically focused on hiring and supporting veterans.
Music also is a meaningful way to express AHA’s commitment to honoring and supporting our military members, veterans and their families. One again, 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.
Fewer than 10% of Americans can claim the title “veteran.” But that special group of our fellow citizens has served and sacrificed in ways that most of us are never asked to, and we can all offer thanks and gratitude to the 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.