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Editorial: November 2017

Converting thanks to action for our veterans


Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. On that day, and this month, we pay deserved, particular attention to the men and women who have worn the military uniforms of our country.

In this issue of North Dakota Living, we present reflections from World War II veterans who participated in the Roughrider Honor Flights to Washington, D.C.; see page 27. We receive their vivid accounts of WWII experiences from 70-plus years ago, hear about why they stepped up to serve, and how the Honor Flight experience was an unexpected tribute and priceless opportunity to re-connect with fellow veterans.

While you read these personal accounts from experiences long ago, please remember that there are now about 20 million veterans in the U.S. today. 1.5 million men and women (less than 1 percent of the U.S. population) are currently serving in the military.

Being a veteran myself, I must admit that I often feel awkward when someone thanks me for my service. Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful gesture, but I often feel guilty. As I hear the comment, I’m thinking: “Don’t thank me, I am one of the lucky ones.” You see, I returned from a combat zone, with my health, to a supportive family, a home and meaningful employment.

There are thousands of my contemporary service men and women who did not return, who were wounded, who now suffer from health issues and traumas, and struggle to make ends meet. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that there are more than 39,000 veterans who are homeless on any given night. About 1.4 million other veterans are considered to be at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, poor living conditions and substandard housing.

So, “Thank you for your service” is just a start.

Electric cooperatives across the country and within our state employ many veterans. This November, electric co-ops are coming together to raise the awareness of the cooperative network concerning veterans, and active military and their spouses through a national veteran engagement campaign. This campaign will connect our veteran community to jobs at America's electric cooperatives and reinforce co-op support and involvement with local veteran communities. For more on this, click here.

Let’s elevate our “thank you” for veterans to action. We should commit to veterans and military families through advocacy, awareness, support and compassion. 

As we approach this holiday season, let our “call to arms” be a unified effort to see that the veterans within our own communities have shelter, food and fellowship.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Josh Kramer, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email