Members from the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard place American flags at headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 27, 2021.

Members from the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard place American flags at headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 27, 2021. (Travis Magee/U.S. Coast Guard)

As we make resolutions for the new year, let us not forget one resolution we must keep: May we never rest until the heroes who have sacrificed for our country are properly supported during the holidays and every day in between.

Today, there are roughly 18 million men and women who have served our country. These veterans — and their families — represent 18 million reasons to support policies and programs that lift those who have given so much.

That’s why, to me, saying “thank you” one day every year simply isn’t enough.

According to data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, currently between 11-20% of veterans experience post-traumatic stress each year, an often-unseen wound that is every bit as devastating as a physical one. Many others find it difficult to translate skills gained during service to civilian jobs, grapple with service-related health conditions, and need greater access to family support services.

For these men and women, service is an honor and the distinct challenges they face are part of the sacrifice they make to protect our freedoms. To them, I say, “I see you, and I recognize that you bear burdens the average American has no concept of.”

To our leaders, including our newly elected officials in Congress, I also see you. And I call on you to demonstrate your gratitude to our service members through action and policy. Not just on Veterans Day, but every day.

There are many ways to stand beside our military community — including supporting a veteran-owned business, volunteering time, or voting in support of veterans’ issues.

Even in the early days of his construction career, my great-uncle Zachary Fisher supported the U.S. military. Unable to join active service in World War II due to an injury, Zach leveraged his skills to build coastal fortifications with the U.S. Coastal Service.

By harnessing his skills, Zach sparked change that would offer daily support to our veterans. More than 30 years later, that same effort has helped 430,000 families and provided $547 million in savings to military families.

We are, without a doubt, a divided nation when it comes to so many topics. But if supporting our military isn’t a bi-partisan cause, then I don’t know what is.

This year, our nation celebrated Veterans Day amid the midterm elections. Too often, we see our political leaders using veterans, and the issues impacting them, as political bartering chips in the race to office.

As new leaders prepare to step into office and as another year has come and gone, I urge our elected officials to follow through with plans to support our nation’s heroes and to put aside the “red” or “blue” to focus on the “red, white and blue” through policies that support veterans.

Instead of waiting for the calendar to land on Veterans Day again in 2023, every day should be a moment to reflect, leverage what we have and remind our service members, veterans and their families that we owe them a great deal more than a “thank you.”

Let’s make honoring our veterans a New Year’s resolution.

Ken Fisher is chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation, and partner of Fisher Brothers.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now