The anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack inevitably brings to mind the many Americans who fought and served in World War II, even as time takes its toll and that group shrinks each year.
It is also a time to think about all veterans who have served since then and those serving in the military currently, especially those in harm's way in Afghanistan, where the nation's longest war continues.
Serving in wartime has an immense impact on those in the military, even among those who do not actually go into combat. Some cope better than others, but all suffer its consequences. For those who have difficulty coping, the outcome can be tragic, and that has been especially true this year.
The Pentagon reported recently that the number of military suicides this year surpassed previous records in November when the number reached 323. The previous record for a year was 310. The number will undoubtedly be much higher by the end of the year, since there has been an average of one military suicide per day so far.
All military branches are being impacted, with the Army and Navy at record levels and the Marines and Air Force at near records. It is speculated that the possible reasons involve multiple deployments, the stress of a long war and concerns over potential injuries or death.
Whatever the causes, the problems do not end when individuals leave the military. Many continue to suffer mental trauma as they try to cope with injuries from their service and try to adapt to a civilian life again. Helping veterans deal with the stress and get the help they need is a responsibility of the nation.
But those of us here in Yuma also have an opportunity to assist them. We have been running a series of articles this week in the newspaper about the needs of veterans and a new fund started by the Yuma Community Foundation to provide assistance.
The Yuma Veterans Fund is seeking donations to establish ongoing grants to local veterans groups that are working to aid veterans but may not have the funds they need to do so. It is a way for our community to remember and help those who have served our nation.
Tax-deductible donations to the Veterans Fund can be made online at www.AZFoundation.org/YumaVeterans or by mailing a check to: Yuma Community Foundation, P.O. Box 6835, Yuma, AZ 85366. Donors should write “Yuma Veterans Fund” on the memo line of the check.