There are news cycles and then there are news cycles. From Hurricane Sandy to the 2012 Election, the past few days have felt like a marathon to many Americans. (Thankfully not like the New York City one, which was wisely cancelled to commit resources to hurricane recovery efforts.) But as both president Obama and Governor Romney said on Tuesday night in their respective speeches, it's time to move forward and concentrate on what can be done now. And it starts with honoring our military vets on Veterans Day.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know it's tough sledding out there right now for Iraq and Afghanistan vets. Their unemployment numbers are consistently higher than the general populace's. Thousands upon thousands of claims are still backlogged at the VA, with no end in sight. And the suicide epidemic ravaging the military and vet community shows no signs of waning, let alone stopping.
But then there's the great thing about vets -- even when they're down, they're never out. And they know that service doesn't stop once they take off the uniform. In the aftermath of Sandy and its follow-on nor'easter storm, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are banding together to help those who have been impacted by the storms. On a day reserved for the citizenry to honor them, be it with a parade, a barbecue, or even just a small, quiet moment of solemnity, these very same men and women have decided they aren't quite done yet.
We're calling this national movement Meetup Everywhere. From coast to coast, IAVA members are spending their Veterans Day weekends and part of their Veterans Days giving back to their local communities, from disaster relief efforts to park cleanups and more. Parades and barbecues are great, but they should only be a part of the Veterans Day experience, for vets and civilians alike. Once again, this New Greatest Generation is leading the way in terms of commitment to country and service to others. Now is the time for the rest of America to follow their lead, before the partisan fault lines that divide our nation form again.
We survived a superstorm and can emerge from it stronger. We survived one of the most contentious and expensive political races ever and can emerge from it more united. Neither will be easy. But both are possible. How? By serving our communities, vets and civilians alike. This Veterans Day, don't just clap for our returning heroes -- follow their lead. They know the way forward.