Veterans Day appears on our calendars every year as a special day on which to honor the men and women who have faithfully served in our nation’s armed forces. But the fact is that we ought to be mindful of veterans’ service and loyalty every day. We have a large debt to all those who have answered the nation’s call, and it’s never something to take for granted.
The likelihood is that each one of us knows someone—a family member, a neighbor or a friend—who has served. And it goes even deeper for us at the Humane Society of the United States. As is the case with most organizations, we don’t need to look far to find service members, veterans and military families in our ranks, whether they be staff colleagues, board members, volunteers, consultants, external partners, or donors and supporters of our work. Today, on the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day, I want to offer special thanks to the members of our organizational family who “have borne the battle” for the United States. Many veterans have stood with us in our work, and we celebrate them.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of programs that brings veterans and pets together in explicitly therapeutic settings to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other difficulties. It is also true that there are a lot of wonderful programs in place at local animal shelters that simply seek to engage veterans as adopters, and donors, and increasingly, to create incentives for veterans’ participation as volunteers in their work. Just over the weekend, through Operation Hero Animal Bond, our partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, we covered all of the adoption fees for veterans at a special event hosted at the Humane Society of Tulsa over the weekend. Seventeen families braved the bad weather to visit the shelter and no one left empty-handed. One cat and 16 dogs were adopted by veterans and their families, including Gremlin, a precocious gray and white cat, who had been patiently waiting several months when he finally met his perfect match with the Swink family from Neodesha, Kansas. Mr. Swink was a Sergeant in the US Army. The interest was so great that the society is extending this special event for the rest of the week to draw in many more veterans to adopt.
We’re very supportive of such programs, which are based on the growing body of popular and scientific literature that generally confirms the link between animals’ social support and improved human health and happiness. For all of us, veterans and non-veterans alike, the presence of animals in our lives brings myriad psychological, social and medical benefits. And petkeeping is all about loyalty and devotion, something that every veteran understands. That’s why we’ve long considered veterans our natural allies in humane work.
Happy Veterans Day, and thank you.