It’s good to hear President-elect Donald Trump say he wants to rebuild military bases and provide access to private doctors for our veterans in his first 100 days. Exit polls suggest military veterans voted two-to-one for Trump. I hope he doesn’t let them down. 

My grandfather served in the military, and my husband served for more than 12 years. During that time, I was proud to serve too, in a very small way. Volunteering as Family Readiness Group Coordinator for our Army reserve unit when they deployed to Iraq and backfilled in Texas helped me understand more than before. I was awarded the Army Commanders Award for Public Service Medal. Although it was one of the proudest days of my life, I didn’t deserve it. All I did was organize picnics and parties, babysit children with special needs for a mother whose husband deployed, and sent encouragement cards to the families  struggling to get by without their loved ones who selflessly left the comforts of home behind to defend our freedom. 

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The real heroes are our brave military and veterans, who wake up every day committed to this country. They're dedicated to sacrificing their lives, and if need be, to save ours. They serve on the front lines, deploying around the world, plus fighting a new form of war, the never-ending war on terror. 

All this takes a significant toll on their physical and mental health and on their families, loved ones and children. We need to support our military and veterans not just with our words but with our actions.

We must ensure that they have homes and jobs after their service. Far too many military veterans are homeless, which is downright shameful. President-elect Trump can solve this.

Equally as important, we need to do more to care for veterans health needs, which are often significant. The VA has its role, but it’s not enough. To combat this, we need sharp VA oversight, as demonstrated by quite a few recent failings and ongoing VA accountability watch

As we celebrate Veteran’s Day after electing a new President all in the same week, my hope is that we stop fighting with each other here at home and unite to fight for our military and veterans who deserve our full, unwavering support.  

America should be strong and rebuild our military, just as Trump said during his campaign. But it’s not just about bases, planes and weapons. It is about rebuilding people – rebuilding the lives of our military and veterans, many who are struggling with serious mental and physical health issues. 

Nearly one in four active duty military members are facing mental health challenges, according to a recent study. PTSD, depression and brain trauma are most prevalent, in addition to the considerable physical health needs of veterans injured in the line of duty

High military suicide rates, which are 20 to 25 percent higher than civilian rates, are now apparently “the new normal.” Suicide should never be normal. 

We must come together now more than ever, joining together as businesses, communities, volunteers, individual citizens and a strong administration, all looking out for our military. If we want to see the change, we need to honor our heroes and not forget their service, when we hire, when we vote, and when we see an opportunity to help them. 

Amanda J. Ponzar is CMO of Community Health Charities.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.