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This Thanksgiving, Hear What New Veterans Are Grateful For

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It's time once again for that seasonal blend of gratitude and that deep longing for the familiar --family, health, pumpkin pie, turkey, and the Detroit Lions getting blown-out on National TV.

Eight years of war have brought tremendous challenges for our military, our veterans and their families. And just a few weeks ago, the military community was tested yet again by the terrible tragedy at Fort Hood.

Despite these obstacles, our men and women in uniform continue to soldier on. And this year, they have more than a few things to give thanks for. In 2009, we've seen some big victories for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Just last month, advanced funding for VA health care was signed into law. A top priority for leading veterans groups for decades, this reform will transform veterans' health care forever.

In 2009, we also saw the implementation of the new GI Bill, a historic measure which will send thousands of young men and women in uniform to college. And, we saw the new veterans movement grow and take hold across the country. From the largest Veterans Week celebrations ever to a thriving Community of Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are coming together and showing one another that they have each other's backs.

I know I am thankful for all of the above, but also for the support I've seen from people around the country for our veterans. I also think back to my Thanksgiving in Germany at CMCT, and I am grateful that I am not in the mud freezing my butt off. And I think back to my Thanksgiving in Baghdad, and I am grateful that all the men in my platoon came home alive. I am also grateful for those like Milo Ventimiglia who are taking USO trips overseas to see our troops. And, I am grateful for the inspiration of a true American hero, J.R Martinez, and the 60 kids from P.S. 22 who taught us that Rihanna can be a very powerful anthem.

And here are what other veterans across the country are grateful for this year:

I am grateful that every single service member returning from combat will now have a face-to-face mental health assessment and that over 100,000 veterans are already going to school under the new GI Bill. --Patrick Campbell, Iraq Veteran, Washington, DC


I am thankful for a job that understands the terms TBI and PTSD. --Artemis O., Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran, Victoria, TX

I'm thankful for people that work on the OIF/OEF Teams at VA Hospitals. They dedicate a large portion of their time to making a genuine positive impact in a lot of vet's lives, and with great humility. I don't know where I would be without them. --Adam Bryant, Afghanistan Veteran, Buffalo, NY

I am as thankful for those holiday meals I shared with my fellow soldiers while deployed in Iraq as I am for the family dinners I celebrate today. --Joshua M. Patton, Iraq Veteran, Pittsburgh, PA

I am thankful for my daughter and my family on Community of Veterans. I am not so thankful to be the only cook in my house this Thanksgiving. --Daphne Dustin, Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran, Mojave, CA

I am thankful that my enemy is a poor marksman. --Tim Embree, Iraq Veteran, Washington, DC

I am grateful that my experiences in, and after, Iraq helped me be a source of comfort to people who volunteer to go to the darkest corners of the earth, that very few Americans understand or are willing to do. --Carolyn Schapper, Iraq Veteran, Washington, DC

This Thanksgiving, as you sit down to dinner with your mashed potatoes and stuffing, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the words and thoughts of these veterans. Remind your friends and family to take a minute to offer thanks to those who serve, to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. We all have so much to be thankful for -- and those who have bravely served our country in uniform certainly deserve a place at the head of every Thanksgiving table.

Crossposted at www.IAVA.org.

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