HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For some, the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day can be confusing. For veterans, they are two very different days, and knowing the meaning behind both is one simple way to truly honor the men and women who have sacrificed to protect and serve our country.
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Originally called Armistice Day to celebrate peace after World War I before being renamed, Veterans Day is very different from Memorial Day.
Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country, particularly in battle or from wounds suffered in battle.
Veterans Day honors all who served our country.
There is immense pride that comes with being a veteran in the Unites States of America. There are also unseen struggles our men and women-in-arms face when they leave the military.
Veterans are the largest uninsured population in the United States. A large number of veterans suffer from homelessness and unemployment. Texas has the largest population of female veterans, many who suffer from military sexual trauma. Mental health issues like depression and PTSD affect many. A large number are incarcerated because of substance abuse problems.
So, how do you honor a veteran on Veterans Day?
"We never get tired of hearing the word 'thank you.' We may be a little awkward in receiving that. It's a little difficult to respond," Army veteran Christy Chatham said. "Telling them 'thank you' really goes a long way, because we feel seen when we are told that."
Chatham compares the uncomfortable new life COVID-19 has forced us all into to what it's like for veterans trying to integrate back into the civilian world.
"People find themselves very anxious, isolated. They are depressed," Chatham said. "That's what thousands and thousands of veterans go through when we transition out of the military."
Chatham is now the director of the Veterans Behavioral Health Program at Mental Health America of Greater Houston. She works to help veterans who have faced obstacles since leaving the military.
"We provide mentors to those veterans that are in veterans treatment court," Chatham said. "We link veterans to community resources and other veteran service organizations and then, we also help veterans with their mental and behavioral health needs."
Chatham says knowing more about our veterans and the struggles they endure is how we truly honor our vets.
"We bring communities together. We are pillars in our community. We are great employees. We are great leaders," Chatham said. "A lot of veterans start businesses and contribute to our economy."
It's important to donate and to give your time to local groups and non-profits who support our veterans facing homelessness, unemployment, mental health problems and a number of other common issues veterans face once leaving the military. If you know a veteran, talk to them. Ask how you can help.
Here are some local resources for veterans:
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On Veterans Day, thank those who have served while recognizing struggles they face