The Word, "Veteran"

by Brianna McCollums, VA senior

edited by Jason Ealy, AT senior

What does the word “veteran” mean to you? First thought that comes to most is “service to our country.” This is true but -- there is so much more to the meaning of the word.

Consider Private Jason Ealy, U.S. Army:  He joined because he loves his country, and this is how he pays his respect to our great nation. When he hears the word “veteran” this is the first thing that comes to his mind. He replies, ”My mind flashes back though every war the United States has ever been in, and I think about all those who fought side-by-side for a greater good, those willing to sacrifice everything for others who they have never met. I think about the men and women who may never come home and about the ones who come home physically but never leave the war mentally.”

Private Daniel DeHaven, also U.S. Army states “veteran” means “respect” -- for those who have come before us. Like Jason, Dan has already completed his basic training. “In my family, military service is a tradition.” Dan strives to make his family proud.

Kyle, an Air Force recruit will journey to basic training upon graduation. He said that the word “veteran” means “someone who was brave enough and had the courage to fight for his or her country; this is why I joined.”

Marine recruit Calvin Lample said that the word “veteran“ reflects “people who have put everything on the line to protect what they have left behind.” Calvin has signed with the Marines to serve and help better his community.  

Yes, many people think differently when they hear the word veteran.  It seems that the words military, freedom, love, respect, and country come to mind; however, the most emotional word that comes to mind is “sacrifice.”

Do you have any idea how much these men and women have sacrificed for us? Once our age in high school thinking about their futures, they chose the path of protecting this country. Their decision has led from their family and friends, from their homes, and from everything familiar.  These men and women have put everything on hold to keep us safe.

Each day, they are encountered with the heavy weight of knowing their every move is vital to the safety and security of our people.  These men and women leave knowing that they are going to protect their country and to keep their families safe. According to, approximately 18% of our veterans since the Vietnam war are plagued with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and much more.

For all that the men and women in our service have gone through -- giving up so much of their lives so that we could life, we could sacrifice just a little bit of time to remember them and be thankful for their service.  

On this day -- Veterans Day, we offer a moment to say “Thank You.”