The U.S. military of the 21st century would be unrecognizable to George Washington. The weapons, the numbers, the things they are asked to do … Everything would probably leave our first president and first general more than a little bemused.
But President Washington knew the value of his troops, telling them the future depended on their “courage and conduct.” That sentiment, shared with the Continental Army before the Battle of Long Island in 1776, is no different today than it was some 240 years ago. As Veterans Day approaches, let us remember and celebrate what those who have served in the military have given us.
Ever since the Revolution, often without any fanfare, the brave men and women of the U.S. military have defended the freedoms we hold so dear. Certainly since 9/11, the value of our military has been front and center– fighting in foreign countries, guarding our national treasures, responding to threats here at home.
With the President pledging to lower the number of American troops in Afghanistan next year, we have an opportunity to do something for those who have given us so much. We can help them transition to civilian life by helping them to find jobs. We owe them for the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make, for our country.
We are lucky many military veterans find their skills can be put to good use conserving the nature of America. I am proud that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes the hiring of veterans a priority. In fiscal year 2013 we hired 158 veterans and more than 1,400 veterans currently work side-by-side with us throughout the country.
I encourage you to check out the Service home page this week, where you’ll see photos and stories about many of our veterans.
I am also proud of our work to reach out to veterans with partners like the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor and Veterans Affairs, Paralyzed Veterans Association, Office of Personnel Management and others.
In honor of America's veterans and members of the U.S. armed forces and their families, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering fee-free access to national wildlife refuges during the Veterans Day weekend. Wildlife refuges provide a great opportunity to celebrate America's natural heritage and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. Free admission is available to all, November 9-11, 2013. Find a refuge near you.
Thank you veterans, for defending our freedoms, and for those who find a place after their service with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thank you for all you do for conservation.