There is no greater way to honor their memory than making a personal commitment to serving those who served—our 22 million living American veterans and their families.
Those who give the most have the set the bar high for the rest of us. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation was founded by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which consists exclusively of the living Medal of Honor recipients. These brave men have committed themselves to continuing a life of service to their nation.
One way they meet this mission is through their work with the Medal of Honor Character Development Program incorporating the ideals of courage and selfless service into the middle and high school curriculum. The lessons in the curriculum are framed using the lives, experiences, and words of these heroes. The program is now present in more than 33 states and in schools run by the Department of Defense in Europe and the Pacific.
Veterans giving back to serve other veterans and their families are found in every branch of service. Take Deb Snyder. When Snyder, a retired Army helicopter pilot, came to Heritage as part of our Protect America program, she talked about her passion to help her fellow soldiers. Deb decided to tackle a heartbreaking issue: the fact that one-fifth of the nation’s homeless population are veterans.
In 2011, the Alexandria native decided to do something in her own backyard. She foundedOperation Renewed Hope Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to one goal: getting veterans’ heads off stone pillows and onto real ones. Today, Operation Renewed Hope is a team of 50 dedicated volunteers.
We are inspired by folks like the members of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and veterans like Deb Snyder. Some of Heritage’s employees banded together to create an organization to help educate all Americans on how to serve those who served. The team created an award-winning documentary, Veteran Nation, which is available for free to those who want to hold community screenings to help jump-start local efforts—either bringing attention and support to local volunteer programs or starting new organizations.
On days like Memorial Day, we honor the spirit and sacrifices of veterans. But every day, when Americans support and encourage the veterans in their communities, the spirit of the nation flourishes.