Americans Honor Veterans; Offer Spiritual Support

Americans across the country are honoring military veterans on Wednesday with local events and church services.

The observance, however, comes with a somber note this year as thousands recently mourned the deaths of 12 soldiers and one civilian in a shooting rampage at Ft. Hood, Texas, last Thursday.

"Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched," President Obama said Tuesday during the memorial service. "Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – that is their legacy."

Honoring all veterans today, Obama will participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, Americans have scheduled concerts, parades, and prayer services to commemorate Veterans Day.

But while celebrations take place, most Americans feel the United States does not give enough support to former military servicemen and women. According to the Pew Research Center, 72 percent say the government does not give enough help to soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and 46 percent say the American people do not give enough support to returning troops.

To fill in that hole of support, the Campus Crusade Military Ministry is working to equip churches to minister to troops, veterans and military families. The ministry cites statistics that show nearly 30 percent of the homeless on the streets once served in the military, 1 in 5 troops returning from combat may suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and divorce and suicide rates are at all-time highs.

"We need partners to reach troops and families and provide the spiritual resources they desperately need," said Military Ministry Executive Director Major General Bob Dees, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2002. "If you can help a troop directly – do it now. If not, do it through us or your church. Together we can help heal our nation and its heroes."

Military Ministry is seeking to mobilize thousands of churches and tens of thousands of lay and professional counselors on behalf of troops, veterans and their families.

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919, as the first Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the legal holiday to Veterans Day, honoring American veterans of all wars.