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Thank you, veterans; your new mission is to get healthy

Like many of you, I am looking forward to getting together with my family and friends on Thanksgiving. We have many things to be grateful for over this past year. One thing that I am always grateful for is the service and sacrifice of the men and women in our armed forces — many of whom will not be able to spend Thanksgiving with their own families this year.Roberts

Right now, 68,000 of them continue fighting in Afghanistan, and countless others are stationed at outposts and bases all over the world. Because of them, we are able to celebrate this holiday together in freedom and peace.

Our nation recently celebrated another holiday, but one which does not get the same kind of attention as the other occasions we mark during this time of year: Veterans Day. The date marks the end of World War I: The guns fell silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. To this day, we remember the courage and service of our veterans on Nov. 11.

With hundreds of thousands of veterans now returning home after the end of the Iraq War and with the end of the war in Afghanistan now in sight, it is important that we step up to honor, support and help our veterans in every way possible.

Here at the sheriff’s office, we’re looking to provide veterans with jobs through programs like “Boots to Badges” and “Operation Stand Down.” We want to take the proven commitment and character of these veterans and put them to work keeping you safe right here at home in Clackamas County.

A good job can be a huge help to a veteran whose life has been turned upside down by repeated deployments overseas, but many of them need even more from us. Because such a small proportion of our population serves in the armed forces — only about 1 percent — they have had to carry an enormous burden on behalf of the rest of us.

Some have suffered outwardly visible physical injuries, such as the loss of limbs, while others face traumatic brain injuries or psychological scars like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that we now know are every bit as real and life altering as any physical wound. If you are an injured veteran, I would tell you that now your mission is to get yourself healthy.

You don’t have to do it alone — there are plenty of resources available to help you. Get started by calling the Clackamas County Veterans Service Office at 503-650-5631. You can also contact the Military Helpline at 888-457-4838 and the Veterans Administration crisis line at 800-273-8255.

On July 4 this year, our SWAT team responded to a 9-1-1 call involving a troubled veteran who was holding his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint. Fortunately, we were able to take him into custody without bloodshed — but it was a harrowing close call, and a reminder about how serious these issues can become if they go untreated.

If you are a veteran, or the family member of a veteran, it is OK to ask for help. You have already done so much for the rest of us —now it’s our turn to take care of you. Thank you for your incredible service to our country.

Craig Roberts is the Clackamas County sheriff.




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