First posted on Havok Journal on 01JAN15 and updated annually.
If it takes you a whole year to resolve to do something that could significantly improve your life, are you really likely to stick with it? I’m guessing probably not; otherwise you would have started already and wouldn’t need a major holiday to make you keep with it.
Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions are almost useless. In fact, by some studies the percentage of Americans who keep their New Year’s resolutions are in the single digits. But the process of developing resolutions can be useful, and instructive, when it causes us to think.
With that in mind, and with 2016 looming, we polled the Havok Journal writers for their suggestions on New Year’s resolutions for veterans. Below are the eight I liked best.
No one speaks for all veterans, and we are not pretending to do so here. Nor are we attempting to tell veterans what to do; in fact, most of us probably already do most of the things on this list already. But for the next year, and hopefully longer, I am committing myself to living by each and every one of them. And if you’re a veteran, I hope you will too.
Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s resolve to make this year better than the last.
1) I will tell my story.
Every veteran has a story that needs to be told. Sharing is therapeutic; it can help repair the mental wounds of war, and it keeps our fellow citizens informed about the wars we fight on their behalf. It also helps encourage and inspire the next generation of young men and women who are willing to support and defend our Constitution and our nation. But I will tell my stories the right way, and keep faith with my nation and my fellow service members.
2) I will not act as if the world owes me something.
The world doesn’t owe me anything simply because I am a veteran. All I expect is a fair shake and the benefits I was promised to be there for me, like I was there for my country. While I appreciate expressions of gratitude for my service, I do not feel entitled to them. I will not go through life with a chip on my shoulder and the expectation that I deserve “something more” simply because I had the opportunity to serve my country.
3) I will help my fellow veterans when, where, and as much as I can.
Veterans have to help each other. I will patronize other veterans’ businesses and when possible will employ veterans in my own business. I will support charities that provide meaningful benefit to veterans. When appropriate, I will support veterans seeking public office. More importantly than any of the rest, I will provide a shoulder, or an ear, or a hand up for any veteran who needs it.
4) I will ask for help when I need it.
22 veterans A DAY committed suicide in 2015. In 2016, I will NOT be one of them. I will not quit on myself, my country, or my fellow veterans, nor will I allow other veterans to do so. I will attack life with the same vigor I attacked the enemies of our country. I will not defeat myself.
5) I will check in with my buddy’s Gold Star family.
I know it’s hard, I know it can be awkward, but it’s essential to look in on the families of our fallen. Pick up the phone; it means so much to families to know that they are not alone and their loved one is not forgotten.
6) I will remain engaged with my fellow citizens and set an example of responsible citizenship.
The US military is the most highly-respected institution in America, and I’m going to do my part to keep it that way. I will set a personal example of responsible citizenship, and hold fellow veterans to the same standard.
7) I will always be proud of who I am, what I’ve done, and those who stood beside me.
I don’t need to wait for history to judge whether our actions in the service of our country were right or wrong. I know in my heart we did the right thing, and I’m proud to have carried the flag of our nation into battle on the behalf of her people. I am equally proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with America’s best, in service to the greatest country on Earth.
8) I will help write the next chapter of our nation’s history.
In a time of great social and political divisiveness, economic crisis, poor national leadership, and simmering anger, America needs its veterans, perhaps now more than ever before. As the veterans of the Revolution emerged to lead the nation, modern veterans must put their leadership, team spirit, ingenuity, selfless service, and willingness to take risks to work for the nation. I will make assimilation and re-integration a priority; I will NOT sit quietly in the shadows and complain about the condition of my country and not do anything about it.