Veteran Calls For Recognition 365 Days A Year
Less than one percent of the population of the United States currently serve in the military and less than 10 percent are veterans. On this Veterans Day, when Americans honor those who have served, a decorated war hero said he would like to see military veterans recognized for their service every day of the year.
U.S. Army Captain (Ret.) James McCormick, from Mason County, West Virginia, was awarded three Bronze Stars and a Silver Star along with three Purple Hearts for his service in Iraq. He is currently the vice commander of the National Order of the Purple Heart.
He spoke with Eric Douglas by Zoom.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Douglas: What would you say to the people who don't know somebody who's serving about why it's important to remember Veterans Day?
McCormick: I’m not saying anything against people who don't serve, because I have great respect for all Americans. If I didn't, I wouldn't have served because I believe in all of them. But Veterans Day is important because there are so few that are willing to give everything, up to and including our lives, for the defense of this nation.
Douglas: I hear from time to time, veterans who never left the country, who stayed stateside and never served in combat, downplay their own experiences, saying, it wasn't as important as what some of the guys who went overseas did. What's your reaction to something like that?
McCormick: My immediate reaction to people when they say things like that, is that that's absolutely and categorically false. Just because you did not serve in a combat theater of operations does not make you any less of a veteran, or does not marginalize your service. We (The National Order of the Purple Heart) feel it's our obligation to be a bridge builder between those demographics of combat veterans, and those that classify themselves as non-combat veterans. The reality is that you are all veterans. If you are eligible for benefits, then your service, obviously, is significant and we should protect that.
Douglas: As a veteran, what do you want to see, or what would you like to see, on November 11 every year? What would make Veterans Day special for you?
McCormick: I would like to see more unity between the veterans groups on Veterans Day. We could all do this together; we don't need to be separated. You would still have these organizations for the specific issues facing veterans, but on Veterans Day, we should all come together. And there should be no barriers, there should be no differences. There should be unity in the community. That's what I would like to see.
Douglas: What would you like to see from the general public? You can eat all day, if you want. You know, there's a number of those sorts of gimmies. But is that really important? Or what would you like to see from the rest of the community?
McCormick: What I would really like to see is a transition from just the one day where we all line up at the Golden Corral, and do this and do that. Veterans Day should be every day, 365 days a year. My God, if less than 10 percent of our country is carrying 100 percent of the weight of defense. surely the other 91 percent of the citizenry that benefits from this should want to see nothing but the absolute best benefits, not only in service, but after service.
So when you look at some of the things like our VA system, we look at things like jobs, transition of military skills to the civilian market, we could do a lot better than what we're doing in America. I would appreciate something that goes beyond just feeding our guts and goes into other things. Not just “thank you for your service. I'll see you next year,” but really, “Thank you, thank you for what you've done.”