Veterans Day


Veterans Day originally honored the military personnel who served in WWI. Currently the holiday celebrates the contributions of all living U.S. veterans, of which there are over 20 million. Join Active Minds as we explore the significance of this holiday and the issues and contributions of those who have served our country in war and peacetime.

Key Lecture Points

  • November 11 marks Veterans Day. First celebrated on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the truce that ended WWI, Armistice Day honored the US military personnel who fought in that war, and dedicated the day to maintaining world peace.   In 1954, after the US had participated in both WWII and the Korean War, Congress passed legislation changing the name of the holiday to Veterans Day and expanding its scope to recognize living US veterans who have served the country in war and in peacetime.  In 2021, there are approximately 19 million veterans in the US.  An estimated 3 million are veterans of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • In the history of the United States, the Federal Government has always provided some support for wounded military veterans and dependents of those killed in battle.  In addition, though, Congress has at various times provided support to veterans, regardless of their condition, in the form of pensions, medical care, loans, educational subsidies and/or other benefits to veterans.  Such Congressional support was provided via the Homestead Act in 1862, the Rehabilitation Act of 1919.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury is the signature combat injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan account for more than half of the severely disabled veteran population. It is estimated that as many as 23% of post 9/11 veterans have some level of traumatic brain injury.  There was little awareness of this diagnosis before the post 9/11 era.  TBIs cause long-term health problems that significantly affect the lives of veterans.  TBIs are also diagnosed in the general population as a result of sports injuries and car accidents.   Research on TBIs will not only improve the lives of veterans with TBI but may also have an influence on how sports are played in the future.
  • Women veterans are increasing in number. Today, women comprise about 2 million or 8% of veterans which is estimated to increase to 18% by 2046.  They face more challenges in transitioning to civilian life than their male counterparts, finding themselves with lower incomes and higher rates of unemployment and homelessness.

Exploration Questions

  • In what way are the challenges of today’s younger veterans different from those of previous wars?
  • How should the US Government budget for long-term costs associated with wounded veterans?

Reflective Questions

  • Do you think post 9/11 veterans face more challenges than the veterans of previous generation of vets? Why?
  • Are you a vet? What challenges did you face in transitioning back to civilian life?

More to Explore

Books for Further Reading

  • Castner, Brian. The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows (paperback). Anchor Books, 2013. 240 pages. The author served three tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan and his book details the experiences of a solider in combat and the struggles of returning to the US.
    Click here to order
  • Klay, Phil.  Redeployment. Penguin Books, 2015. 304 pages. The book follows the experience of soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and upon their return to the US.
    Click here to order
  • Marsh, W. B. and Bruce Carrick. Tales of War: Great Stories from Military for Every Day of the Year (paperback). Totem Books, 2011. 732 pages. These stories of war show the far-reaching consequences of a single day’s action and the courage of the people who risk their lives.
    Click here to order
  • Ward, Candace. World War One British Poets: Brooke, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and Others (paperback). Dover Publications, 1997. 64 pages. Poetry of the WWI poets.
    Click here to order