I am a veteran, but many do not know that about me (until now, I guess). I spent almost five years in the United States Marine Corps as Security Forces and an infantry rifleman. My service has defined who I am (and who I am not) today.

It is with that in mind that I ask everyone to reconsider how we show our monetary thanks to veterans. Now, I’m not saying that free food and a free drink is a bad thing. In fact, for our homeless veterans, a hot meal goes a long way this time of year.

However, free food and special discounts fall on deaf ears when veterans lead the demographic in homelessness and suicide (though, to be fair, homeless rates have dropped significantly in recent years).

All that to ask: Is the money donated by companies (in the form of free food and discounts to veterans) being utilized in the best way? Maybe for their profit margin, which, according to a recent NBC story, provides a spike in sales for these corporations and companies.

This makes me question their true intent and suggest that maybe we are missing the point. If Veterans Day is meant to honor veterans, why do these companies see a rise in profits? Seems to me, we are honoring corporate profit margins instead.

I would like to see a statistic that calculates the money donated (again via free meals and discounts to veterans) by these companies. I wonder how many homes we could build veterans, how many vocational scholarships that would give them work, how many events we could sponsor to simply let vets talk about their experiences to their local community?

In what ways could these methods translate into helping people who are non-veteran, but struggling with homelessness, suicide and a myriad of other social issues, as well?

Sometimes the hard questions require hard work to answer. Give a person a fish, and you will feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you will feed them for the rest of their life.


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