In honor of Veterans Day, Huffington Post Impact and Causecast present Salute To Service, a week-long series honoring the remarkable men and women of America's armed forces. Each day, a war veteran will share a personal essay about victories and struggles during war and in its aftermath, as well as nonprofit projects to support at home.
My name is Aaron J. Marquez and I currently serve as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves as part of a Civil Affairs unit.
Just over one year ago I joined the ranks of America's incredible military community. I shipped off to Basic Training and spent last year's Veterans Day in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. During Basic Training I met Americans from all across our country and from every walk of life. I met young soldiers right out of high school; some had just barely finished their GEDs and many others had already begun raising children. At the same time I met soldiers with advanced degrees and even one former high school teacher in his early 40s.
All of us joined the Army for different reasons. Some joined for economic security while others joined almost completely for the adventure. Underlying all of our different reasons was a deep commitment and desire to serve our country.
The next step in my Army adventure took me to Fort Benning, Ga. for Officer Candidate School where I would develop lifelong friendships. The Army creates bonds so strong they resemble family relationships. Through our service, training and sacrifice we learn to depend on one another. We know that soon we will be called upon to put our training into action on the battlefield, where we will rely on each other to complete critical missions.
I believe that service in all its many forms can bring Americans closer together through fighting common causes.
Every two years our country engages in the battlefield of electoral politics, and this year's election cycle was particularly bruising because of increased levels of political polarization and rancorous ideological intra-party fighting in both parties.
As this political battle comes to a close we should remember that our nation and in particular our service members and military families are now entering their 10th year of war. So lets put the political fighting behind us and focus on ways to bring our country together, united behind moving America forward.
I am now back home and balancing civilian life with my responsibilities in the U.S. Army Reserves. On this Veterans Day I hope you will find a way to volunteer in your local community.
Many of the soldiers I met at Basic Training are already on the ground in Afghanistan and I will be thinking about them while I am volunteering on Veterans Day.
Veterans Day should be more than just a day off. This year, join the many Americans who will spend Veterans Day volunteering their time to help renew an America that our veterans have fought time and again to protect. It is these countless individual acts of service -- both small and large -- that have set America apart as the greatest country in the world.
One simple way you can help is by visiting MissionServe.org, and celebrating this Veterans Day by serving alongside and on behalf of our military communities.
On Veterans Day especially we should take time to celebrate our democracy and honor the generations of Americans who have sacrificed to defend our values and way of life. There is no better way to honor them. Thank you for your service.
Support Aaron J. Marquez and his organization of choice, Mission Serve, below through Be The Change or by visiting Salute To Service.
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