Friday, November 11, 2022
Within the year, there are only two days dedicated to our armed forces -- Memorial Day and Veterans Day. On Memorial Day, we honor the military personnel who died serving, whether in battle or due to the wounds sustained in battle. On Veterans Day, we honor and thank all who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime.
It’s common to confuse who qualifies as a veteran. To clarify, anyone who served honorably in the United States Armed Forces qualifies. Anyone who serves honorably for at least 180 days and has been discharged and marked "general and under honorable conditions" qualifies as a veteran.
When we celebrate our veterans, we also celebrate their spouses, children, and family members. The family plays a huge role in supporting military personnel as they mentally and physically prepare for deployment and the many training sessions that take them away from home. They are significant life changes that necessitate unwavering support. As a wife of a veteran, I understood my husband’s sacrifice to fight for our freedom, and I also know how hard it is on our family when he is away.
This is why I volunteered to be the CNMI Family Readiness Support Group Coordinator for the 1-294th IN REGT., Guam Army National Guard. I know how mentally exhausting it is to constantly worry about where your loved one may be. In my role in the CNMI Family Readiness Support Group, I relay important deployment information from the unit's commanding officer to the families, assist in coordinating town hall meetings, and plan ceremonial events before deployment.
Improvement of veteran services needed
When I was appointed as the Military Liaison and Veterans Affairs Office executive officer, I strived to serve our veterans and their beneficiaries. Aside from the current services that they receive, such as medical and health services, I would like to see an improving veteran services in the Marianas that have not been tried before. This includes establishing a CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs website to provide all the necessary information and links to resources such as the Veteran Affairs updates on benefits, life insurance options, housing for veterans, employment services, the G.I. Bill, and other benefits.
Furthermore, with the assistance of our government and our community, I believe it is possible to establish what I propose as a Veterans for Veterans Center to provide ongoing support. A center like this should be equipped with computers, TVs, and a recreational lounge to meet fellow veterans. A peer program will serve most veterans’ preference to speak with other veterans who can understand their challenges.
Lastly, I’d like to continue the hard work of the past executive director to ensure that we get our CNMI veterans the help they truly need.
Veterans Day Celebration
The best way to honor veterans, in my opinion, is for the community to come together and hold an event in their honor. Our community can see who our veterans are. Veterans have done everything asked of them in their mission to serve our country, and it is never too late to honor them so they know their service was not in vain. and that they are valued.
My family and I honor veterans every day by proudly displaying the US and CNMI flags inside and outside our home. We also attending the Veterans Day Ceremony, which is held annually on the 11th Day, 11th Hour, and 11th Month at the American Memorial Park Court of Honor in Garapan.
As an avid motorcycle rider, I organize a tribute ride with another group of bikers on the island. We have more than 10 veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces in our biker family, and we ride around the Saipan to honor and thank veterans for their service to our country, flag, family, and brotherhood.
The CNMI Office of Veterans Affairs celebrates our veterans with two important events each year: Memorial Day, which honors and remembers the fallen, and Veterans Day, which thanks the living for their service to the country, flag, family, and brotherhood. Veterans Day will be celebrated at the American Memorial Park Court of Honor on Fri., Nov. 11, 2022, at 11:00 a.m., with a flyover scheduled.
Happy Veterans Day to our CNMI Veterans and thank you for the sacrifices you made for our country. Together, We Can!
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By Marie Salas Igitol
Marie Salas Igitol was appointed executive director for the Veterans Affairs Office on October 2022. Marie is a proud wife of a veteran who has multiple family members in all branches of the Armed Forces and was the CNMI Family Readiness Support Group Coordinator for the 1-294th IN REGT., Guam Army National Guard.