11/12/2012 12:24 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

Veterans Day Is Only the Beginning

Veterans Day is flanked this year by the Election on one side and Thanksgiving on the other, both occasions that suck a lot of oxygen out of the air. But that can't alter what this day means to Veterans, nor what it means to their families.

Whether a loved one is still serving or not, whether in or out of harm's way, whether injured or whole, living or dead, near or far away, this is a day to pause and reflect on what they did and why. And then on what we owe them.

Of course, thanks are in order; that's just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond that are things harder to accomplish: medical care for mind and body, housing, jobs, education. All when it's needed, which is now.

I've spoken here before about the simple human things that each of us can do. Listen. Support organizations that work with Vets, like the NVF. But I think the mandate goes beyond that. I think it goes right to the core of what it means to be a citizen of this great nation.

At a Veterans Day ceremony I participated in at Pasadena Community College in the LA area, a Dr. Harold Martin, a Vietnam veteran himself, now a social sciences professor, and advisor to the Vets Club, said to the student vets before him, "When people come up to you and thank you for your service, don't think that your service is over... because it's just beginning."

That's true for all of us. It's been a contentious 18 or more months in this country, and while the election process is over, the real work is just beginning. We need every citizen on board to tackle the challenges that lie before us. So on Veterans Day, take a minute to thank our brave men and women who have sacrificed so that we are able to enjoy the freedom we have to govern ourselves and to pursue our dreams, and remind yourself that your service too, is just beginning and it's lifelong.