Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy)
On Veterans Day, we come together as a nation to give thanks to the men and women who have served and defended our country. This Veterans Day, marked by the very special date of 11-11-11, is also a day to celebrate the courage, patriotism, and sacrifices of not only our service members but also their families. Throughout our nation’s history, our military community has selflessly served to protect our country’s values, freedoms, and ideals.
As we know, our veterans are woven into the fabric of our society—they are our parents and grandparents; our wives, husbands, and children; our brothers and sisters; our friends and neighbors. It is also critical for our country to remember that our obligation to our service members does not end when they return home and take off the uniform.
We must empower them with the tools necessary for a successful transition back to civilian life. It is important that our veterans know that we understand the challenges they face and that we are dedicated to helping ensure they have the ability to live healthy and productive lives after their military service.
In the spirit of Veterans Day, I’d like to share with you some wonderful news about our Armed Forces Retirement Homes (AFRHs), located in Washington, DC and Gulfport, Mississippi. For nine generations, they have been a haven for eligible service members in retirement.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of participating in a very special ground-breaking ceremony for the new Scott Building at the AFRH Washington, DC campus. The Scott Building raises the bar for living standards for a senior living community. Its design is based on a “small house” philosophy of clustered residences around common living and dining spaces. In a short time, our veterans at the Washington campus will soon enjoy a new wellness center, library, fitness center, swimming pool, theater, and dining facility. I know the new building will be a place that our veterans will be proud to call “home.”
The Gulfport AFRH rests on forty-seven acres of prime waterfront land on the Mississippi Sound for our veteran residents. Severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the campus was magnificently rebuilt into a state-of-the-art facility which features a multi-tower complex with full amenities, including recreational and therapeutic activities, a swimming pool, wellness center, theater, and much more. Providing such things as modern amenities and access to unmatched medical care in a caring, warm, and community-based environment is an important way that we thank these veterans for their service. The AFRHs are model retirement communities, and it is heartwarming and inspiring to see the passion and dedication with which the AFRH staffs serve our veteran residents. We owe our AFRH residents nothing but the best, and I can assure you that they’re getting it!
On 11-11-11, I urge each of us to find a meaningful way to celebrate the service of our veterans and their families. If you are in the Washington, DC area, you might attend the Veterans Day National Ceremony, held each year at Arlington National Cemetery, commemorated with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and a parade of colors by many veteran service organizations. If you are looking for something closer to home, you might find other events to celebrate our veterans here. If you would like to share with us a family Veterans Day tradition, something about a veteran in your life, or how you intend to spend this Veterans’ Day, please join our discussion.
Our entire military community – veterans, service members, wounded warriors, and all families, especially our Gold Star families – deserve our respect and thanks. Please find time to honor them and each other this Veterans Day. Until next time, be well.