The term "veteran" means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable (Department of Veteran Affairs). Although we know about veterans, many Americans might not actually know one. That's because fewer than 7 percent of Americans have served in the U.S. armed forces. In fact, less than one percent have fought in war. To me, this makes the observance of Veteran's Day as a national holiday that much more important.Veteran's Day brings collective awareness and attention to the plight and path of men and women have responded to a call to service. We remember the fallen. We honor those who have given their time and talents to protect our values and their families who have made sacrifices along the way. Our freedom prevails because of veterans. As a nation, I hope we recognize this is not something nor are they someone we should take for granted. Ever.
I think we have a moral obligation to recognize the tough realities our veterans endure. Veteran's Day cannot fall privy to pageantry. Truly, I appreciate the NFL's "Salute to Service"
represents the NFL's unwavering dedication to honoring, empowering, and connecting with our nation's service members, veterans, and their families. It is grounded in deep partnerships with the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF), Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), United Service Organizations (USO) and Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). Since 2011, more than $66 million has been raised for these Salute to Service partners.
But let that be an invitation to learn more, to read and realize what those organizations are and why they exist.
|The Admiral Callahan Society at St. Ignatius created this memorial as an invitation for the school community to recognize Veterans' Day.|
On Thursday, November 17 at 8 p.m. Notre Dame Women Connect will feature U.S. Army veteran Danielle Green '99. Although I had seen her making buckets—lots of them*—as a member of the Notre Dame women's basketball team, the first time I learned more about her story is when she won the Pat Tillman award, given at the ESPYs in 2015. Through Green, one can learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), who they are and what they do.
Green, who lost part of her left arm from a rocket-propelled grenade attack while serving in Iraq, said it was a dream for her to serve our country. In the book "Black Domers: African-American students at Notre Dame in their own words," she writes "as a child raised in poverty in the inner city of Chicago by a single parent who battled with substance abuse, it was imperative for me to dream big so I would not fall victim to my environment. I wanted to be somebody; I wanted to matter in life." What a profound, selfless and powerful way to think of becoming a veteran.
A few years after graduating, she "felt hollow inside. I thought I should be doing more with my life, so I decided to enlist in the United States Army, even though I knew the war was looming." In the tribute video shown at the EPSYs, Green admits that when she lost her arm she felt bad that she could not complete her service. She was awarded a Purple Heart by her brigade commander. And I loved reading that honor was the reason why she chose the royal, regal color at the ESPYs.
As written in Bouncing Back Stronger: Woman Warrior and Purple Heart Recipient Overcomes Adversity to Live with Purpose, “I wore a purple dress because it was symbolic of the Purple Heart,” Danielle said. “I wanted people to know that I was strong, fierce. I wanted to show the world that there are female combat veterans out there and we do come back with war scars.”
Green now works Wounded Warrior Project as a Warrior Speak Spokesperson. In September WWP released the 2023 Women Warriors Report, "which highlights the unique experiences and challenges women veterans face after service, including accessing health care and undergoing a harder time transitioning back into civilian life than their male counterparts." In fact, women are the fasted growing groups of veterans.
Green believes the best way to reach veterans is to "share stories like mine, so they realize the Wounded Warrior Project community is the place for them to heal and find acceptance.”
In our time together, we will discuss much more than her "second hand life." She remains committed to athletics, competition, and new challenges. A mother to Daniel, her nine-year old son, we look forward to all the stories she will share through the program Inspired Conversations. This is open to alumni and friends of Notre Dame. Please register for this special event here.
On this Veteran's Day, let us remember the realities of Veterans. The very act of remembrance IS a prayer.
Pat Tillman award
*Green, a left handed guard is the 17th leading scorer in Irish women's hoops history)