Private-sector efforts like the Hubbard-Baro golf tourney here in Clovis and projects like those undertaken by donor-supported organizations like Freedom Alliance help fill the gap between government programs and the long-term needs of our veterans. They help ensure that severely wounded veterans can make the transition from "casualty" to "productive citizen." Of equal importance, they help ensure today's veterans won't be cast-offs, like those of the Vietnam era.
Unfortunately, endeavors like these are likely to become even more important in the days ahead. If the Obama administration and some in Congress have their way, there will be major cuts in the amount of care provided for the dependents of active-duty military personnel and new co-pay requirements for veterans receiving treatment for service-connected disabilities. That means even greater demands on local communities like Clovis and foundations like Freedom Alliance for everything from specially enabled housing to custom-equipped vehicles to service dogs.
For a decade now, I have been covering America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines for Fox News. Notably, the night before Veterans Day is the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps. This year, I observed the anniversary -- the 236th -- with the families of several fallen Marines. We didn't talk politics. What we did speak of were issues like winning the war in which they lost their loved ones -- and how cuts in pay, medical care, family housing and even death benefits will adversely affect recruiting in an all-volunteer military.
The 2.4 million bright, brave, incredibly fit and remarkably talented young Americans who have served in our armed forces since we were attacked on 9/11 are indeed all volunteers. As Gen. David Petraeus put it during a conversation we had in Afghanistan, "They all came or stayed, knowing they were going to war." For more than a decade, these patriots and their loved ones have made extraordinary sacrifices for this country. They embody the classical definition of heroes: those who put themselves at risk for the benefit of others.
On this Veterans Day, these heroes and their families deserve our thanks -- not program cuts -- from the American people they so courageously defend.
Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the author of "American Heroes in Special Operations" and the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance. To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.