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Green Light Don't Mean Stop

by Jim O'Kelley, Director
Elks National Foundation

Wondering where you can buy a green light to show your support for veterans? My guess is you can find one at WalMart...which is the primary sponsor of the Green Light a Vet project.

Cue Soul Asylum.

"How on Earth did I get so jaded?"

I don't mean to sound cynical, especially at this time of year. There's always a lot of extra attention for vets around Veterans Day and the holidays. That's not a bad thing. And the folks at WalMart, well, they need to make a buck, too, right? (Okay, that was snarky.)

But seriously, as a member and employee of an organization for which every day is Veterans Day, I welcome the extra attention. Frankly, we can use the help.

And if a green light makes a vet feel appreciated or helps to ease the often difficult transition to civilian life, then those are good things. Plus, a lot of younger vets are uncomfortable with ostentatious displays of appreciation. By turning on a green light, you can show your gratitude without getting in their face.

But here's the thing: Just as when you're driving, a green light don't mean stop. In other words, let the green light be the beginning, not the end, of your support for veterans.

That's especially important now, because the Elks have entered into a major agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to stamp out homelessness among the veteran population. The Foundation has backed up the Elks' commitment with a pledge of $4 million over the next four years.

It's going to take more than money to beat this scourge, though. It's going to take a lot of hard work by us and other community partners, working with the V.A. Homelessness among veterans isn't a government problem. It's an American problem, and we have to work together to solve it.

You can learn more about our commitment at www.elks.org/vets/welcomehome.cfm. The Elks National Veterans Service Commission soon will announce program details and concrete ways that you can help.

So, turn on your green light. But then go.

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