World War I seems distant to most people on the earth today, but it was a bloody war in its time that seemed to suck the entire world into its terrible litany of “firsts”: first to be fought on land, sea and air, first widespread use of poison gas, and first use of tanks, flamethrowers, and aircraft carriers. The war-related mental illness then known as “shell shock” was recognized as real. The political effects of this war dominated the 20th century and affect events even today.
November 11, the day of the armistice, or truce, in western Europe, became a day of remembrance in the U.S., France, and across the British Commonwealth. Unfortunately this war did not turn out to be the War to End All Wars as it was called, and in 1954 the name Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in the United States, opens a new window to honor veterans of all wars.
If you know a veteran or Gold Star family member with a story to tell, record an interview with the Veterans History Project, opens a new window of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. It collects and preserves the firsthand interviews and narratives of United States military veterans and Gold Star family members from World War I through the present.
Many national parks commemorate the service of veterans, opens a new window. National parks offer free admission on Veterans Day, though some buildings remain closed due to the pandemic. For example, visitors can walk the grounds of the cemetery and prison at the Andersonville National Historic Site, opens a new window in Georgia, but will not have access to the Prisoner of War Museum building.
If you know a veteran who needs a helping hand, get familiar with benefits offered by the U.S. government and the state of Georgia:
- The main page of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, opens a new window contains links to information about all veteran benefits, with special programs for disabled, homeless, minority, women veterans, and veterans in business. Use this clickable map to find facilities in Georgia, opens a new window. Georgia offers additional benefits for Georgia veterans, opens a new window.
- The National Resource Directory, opens a new window is a portal to info on benefits, compensation, family and caregiver support, housing and transportation, education, training and employment, health, financial and legal support, assistive technology and recreational programs for wounded or ill veterans, their families and caregivers. Listings are vetted and maintained It is maintained by the Defense Health Agency.
- The National Archives site for veterans, opens a new window has information on how to get copies of service records, opens a new window, how to correct or make changes to service records, and how to get replacement medals and decorations.
- My Next Move for Veterans, opens a new window, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, provides some avenues for post-service work. Service members can use it to match civilian positions with their military classification code.
- The VA collects resources for homeless veterans, opens a new window.
- VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization, opens a new window provides opportunities for veteran-owned procurement-ready businesses.
- The Military personnel locator portal, opens a new window maintained by USA.gov can help get in touch with a veteran.