It most likely will not come as a surprise that 100% of the American citizens I’ve encountered have an admiration for the 0.4% actively serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and for all U.S. Veterans, deceased and living.

However, recent private research and public reporting show a growing social and needs divide between veterans and non-veterans that will require more than admiration to close.

According to the Census Bureau, the share of the U.S. population with military experience is declining. In 2016, 7% of U.S. adults were veterans, down from 18% in 1980.

In 1973 the United States transitioned to an all-volunteer military and with the U.S. Defense Department consolidating military bases around the country the overlap of civilian and military communities was severely reduced diminishing the communal opportunities to interact and understand the needs of the men and women who are serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The State Of The American Veteran: The Chicagoland Veterans Study reported that 66.5% of pre-9/11 veterans and 68.7% of post-9/11 veterans felt civilians don’t understand the problems faced by veterans.

Admittedly, even with having family members myself who had served in the U.S. Armed Forces it wasn’t until I became keenly aware of the “Not all Wounds are Visible” cost of service and sacrifice to our country did I turned my admiration into action that made tangible lasting differences.

United Relief Foundation is determined to close the divide between veterans and non-veterans by increasing our awareness and outreach activities to help turn civilian admiration into action, especially for veterans in need, and we hope you will do the same.