Honoring our Veterans

November 11 marks the annual observance of Veterans Day, a day on which we honor the courageous women and men who have served in the United States military.

Marines come ashore near Da Nang Air Base on March 8, 1965. (National Archives, RG 127; National Archives Identifier 26382181)

The National Archives is proud to have in its holdings a variety of military records, from photos to documents to searchable databases, which are available on National Archives News. NARA’s holdings regarding veterans and military records include:

I am proud of the daily work the National Archives performs on behalf of those who have served and continue to serve our nation in the United States military, as well as their families. The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, is central to this work serving our veterans and their families. Our mission to provide world-class customer service enables veterans and their families access to the records they need to obtain essential benefits and services owed to them because of their service and sacrifice. I am particularly proud of the NPRC and the National Archives at St. Louis staff who have supported them. Their tireless and extraordinary efforts to accomplish this essential mission throughout the pandemic has truly exemplified the best of NARA values.

Today we held the 6th Annual Veterans Day program for NARA staff, hosted by IKE, NARA’s Veterans Employee Affinity Group. We welcomed Cybele Merrick from the Department of Veterans Affairs as our keynote speaker who spoke on post-traumatic stress disorder and the resources available for veterans, including these video resources for the public and veterans about PTSD and effective treatments

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD educational whiteboard videos for the Public and Veterans.

I also offered the following remarks during the Veterans Day Program: 

Greetings from Washington. Thanks to the 563 NARA employees who are Veterans. We represent almost 20% of the workforce and I am proud to be one of you.

Thanks also to those many staff members who provide services to our Veterans. Special thanks to those staff volunteers who have been fulfilling emergency requests at NPRC.  I hope you all share the pride that I feel knowing we are making a difference in the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for our country.

Every day, thanks to the persistence and dedication of our staff, miracles are performed in connecting veterans and their families with the records they need to receive benefits:  burials, medical assistance, housing for homeless vets, among the top needs presented.

Even in a pandemic environment, since we shut down in March of 2020, staff volunteers have responded to almost half a million VA requests. In addition, those volunteers also enabled 88,000 burials, housing for 20,000 veterans, 51,000 medical emergency treatment for 51,000 vets, and other needs for a grand total of 546,000 responses. On behalf of the Veteran community, thank you. Thank you for your selfless service.

Today’s IKE program delivers a timely message on how the Veterans Administration’s National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder addresses the many issues related to PTSD among Vets. I say “timely” because as you will hear or already know, PTSD symptoms are not owned by Vets alone. Many of us, over the past 17 months have experienced symptoms in one form or another.

As a former Navy Hospital Corpsman with a PsychTech MOS, I treated sailors and marines exhibiting disorder symptoms stateside and in Vietnam. My training at Bethesda Naval Hospital and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital educated me about the stressors, how they are manifested, and how they can be neutralized. That training was many, many years ago, but is still very much part of who I am today. Today’s message from Cybele Merrick will serve us all well in recognizing PTSD in ourselves and those around us.

Thank you for joining us today.    

Let us honor those men and women who have served in our Armed Forces and continue to serve. Thank you for your service.