We owe the 2.7 million African American veterans in the U.S. a great debt.

From Peter Salem at the Battle of Bunker Hill to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment’s charge at Fort Wagner; from the Tuskegee Airmen in the skies over Europe to the present-day Middle East, black men and women in uniform have fought bravely and made incredible sacrifices on behalf of all Americans.

This Veteran’s Day, here are five ways to honor the African-American heroes who have fought to preserve our freedom through the years.

1. Ensure the veterans in your life know about the health care benefits available to them. Many veterans lack awareness of their VA benefits, which prevents them from making the most of them. Of African-American veterans in particular, over half (58.4%) are not aware of VA benefits and services. Make sure the veterans in your life understand and utilize their benefits.

2. Take suicide talk seriously. According to the VA, roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide, often the result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition to encouraging veterans to use their VA services, take seriously and quickly act upon any suicidal indicators.

3. Combat health disparities. Research has found that minority communities frequently receive less access to health care. The health-disparity risk factors impacting the African American community as a whole may also apply within the VA setting. While the VA is advancing efforts to combat health disparities, you can encourage our nation’s leaders to provide necessary funding and research to help eliminate these disparities.

Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans; that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.

Posted by:Editor

KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.