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A new year has come, as it must in the passage of time. The old year can be put to rest, just as all things of the past. The past is gone, the future is not yet here. What we have is the present, always the present.
Our troops have left Iraq after a nine-year involvement attempting to help the Iraqi people to define their own political, more democratic future. Our troops did what they were asked to do with honor and dedication to excellence. They took on those that wished to kill and destroy even the innocent, an enemy more dedicated to hatred than the uplift of its own people. They did their best to give the Iraqis the political and military skills to defend themselves and the new government. They did all of this in a way in which we can all be proud. But their job in Iraq is done. It is up to the Iraqis to do the rest for themselves now.
Many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines are still in harm’s way in Afghanistan. Our hopes and prayers are for them to be safe and return to us soon. We hope, too, that the Afghans will take on the responsibilities of nationhood and their own self-defense sooner, rather than later. We are not in charge of those things. Our troops, though, continue to conduct themselves with dedication and courage.
For those returning troops, the new year brings new challenges. And it brings to us the challenge of our continuing commitment to them as they come home to us to begin the work of living the rest of their lives. Some come back to us wounded, some suffering the ravages of PTSD, but all come back to us wanting the opportunities that this country has always offered to those who were willing to work hard. They are young men and women who have been tested in ways that the majority of their peers will never know. They have learned self-discipline, the habits of courage and dedication to the other. They have been trained in high-tech skills, as well as in how to manage people or systems from the ground up. They have learned through hands-on experience, often under great stress. They have much yet to offer their families, their employers and the nation.
Most of our returning troops will be coming back into civilian life to go on with their lives in the normal ways that most of us hope for over the course of a lifetime. They look to the new year with vibrant hope, filled with the normal dreams of any young person beginning the rest of their lives. They want to work, to make a living, to grow and advance in their personal lives and with their families in the same ways that we all do.
For those of us here at home who are receiving our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and our friends back into the comfort and welcome of our arms, our hopes for their safe return have been answered. Now we need to support them with our care, our understanding, and our patience as they take on the new challenges of re-engaging with the everyday, even mundane, realities of civilian life.
As a nation, we must continue to offer care and material support for the wounded and those suffering PTSD issues for a good time to come. We must work hard to never forget what they did for us, in our names. We must remain dedicated to their recovery over the coming years. Yes, years. Some of those wounded physically and mentally will need our help for a long time. But that is a small price for us to pay for the great cost that they have incurred in willingly serving all of us.
It is common to make resolutions at this time of the year. We here at The Veterans Site resolve to continue our efforts to feed those veterans who have fallen through the cracks and find themselves homeless and hungry. We resolve not to forget them, and we ask you to continue your support in this effort by clicking on the "Click Here, It's Free" donation button. We resolve to continue to challenge you to hire a veteran, to welcome them home with your words and your deeds. They have given much, and much is required of us in the form of gratitude.
May the new year be happy and prosperous for you, for our veterans, and for the nation. Happy New Year!!