Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the men and women who wore our nation’s uniform. These selfless individuals come from all walks of life and all regions. The thing that unites them is that they answered the call to serve their country, risking everything to protect American ideals, fight for democracy and secure a free country for future generations. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that their selflessness and desire to serve continues once out of uniform.

In 2015, the Veterans Civic Health Index found that military service positively impacts civic health and strengthens communities. The skills and camaraderie veterans gain in the military are something many continue to practice and foster throughout their lives. Whether it be volunteering, engaging with civic groups or voting, veterans tend to participate at rates higher than non-veterans.

More than 220,000 veterans call Arkansas home. We can be proud of their military service and the example they set constantly working to make our country better. Their enduring loyalty to our nation makes a tremendous difference in the lives of others.

Advances in veteran services are due in large part to organizations of veteran members. The advocacy of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veteran service organizations has enhanced veterans’ benefits and influenced policies that support the men and women who served in uniform, including helping veterans further their education, buy houses and start businesses.

Arkansas is full of great examples of veterans who continue giving to their communities long after ending their military service. With the launch of the Arkansas Military Veterans’ Hall of Fame (AMVHOF) in 2011, more individuals are being recognized for their impact and legacy both inside and outside of the Armed Forces.

Earlier this month, I celebrated the induction of 15 veterans into the Hall of Fame. This prestigious honor is awarded annually to Arkansans for their military service. Up to five inductees are chosen for this distinction for their combined military and civilian service to their community, the state and nation. The induction into the AMVHOF symbolizes the extraordinary military service and positive contributions veterans continue to make to our country.

While serving in our nation’s uniform, troops learn the value of working as a team to accomplish missions and keep each other safe. It’s an idea that continues to resonate when they leave military service.

In an interview conducted by my staff with retired Conway airman Lt. Col. James Hudson for the Veterans History Project, a program that preserves the memories of military veterans, he said “One of the things that veterans say they enjoy about the military is the camaraderie. You’re caring for one another. It’s just natural.”

That kindness and compassion is a standard for many veterans. We are blessed to have their support and their unselfish example of what it means to be a good citizen. Let’s thank our veterans for wearing our nation’s uniform and for their ongoing service and desire to improve their communities, state and nation.

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