A Message from Truman CEO Jenna Ben-Yehuda on Veteran’s Day

Dear Truman Members,
Today we honor those who have served our country in uniform. To those Truman members who have served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard, thank you. Thank you for the long time away from family and friends, the costs borne--whether they be physical, mental or emotional, and the deep sacrifice your service has entailed. We are grateful for your service, and our community and country are stronger for it.

Truman was founded in the aftermath of 9/11 and as such, we’re especially proud that a substantial portion of our members are veterans. So when we talk about what it means to serve and all the ways in which so many of us have served, both in and out of uniform, it’s personal. That’s why, on this Veterans Day, we reached out to a few of our members to highlight their achievements. We’ve also asked them to reflect on their service in their own words. 
Truman member Kristofer Goldsmith is working to ensure all veterans are guaranteed access to vital healthcare. “In the coming years, I hope to see veterans’ benefits restored for the hundreds of thousands of veterans with bad paper discharges who were denied the due-process rights of courts martial. Studies have shown that minorities, as well as women who report instances of sexual assault, are more likely to be issued bad paper than others. Correcting the bad paper problem wouldn’t take an act of Congress. This president, or the next one, could help hundreds of thousands of affected veterans through executive action alone.”

Andrea Goldstein, Truman member and senior policy advisor on the House Committee of Veterans’ Affairs, reflects on the holiday: “Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on my own time in service and the incredible blessing it has been to serve this country and the people I have had the opportunity to serve with. It's also an opportunity to engage the public and people who have minimal exposure to military service about what service means to us--from the value of being part of a team, to reflect on continuing to engage in endless war.”

Truman member and Navy veteran Won Palisoul explains why she is proud to be a part of the Truman community. “Today, we join thousands of Truman Project members around the nation in celebrating the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day. Our veterans, military service members and military families have boldly answered the call of duty in wartime and in peace. Our veterans have liberated nations and rebuilt communities. We owe them a great debt of gratitude, but gratitude simply isn’t enough. We should all recognize their leadership skills, dedication to preserving humanity and tremendous commitment to service. On this day. we thank all those who have served, and we are thrilled to share the stories of our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation.”

Increasingly, many Americans go through their lives without ever meeting a service member or hearing their stories. It’s part of the reason, I think, why so many Americans are divorced from the realities of a country that has been at war for nearly 20 years. It’s also why so many of Truman’s programmatic efforts have included attempts to help connect the veterans in our own community to the broader American public--whether to understand the costs of climate change or why women deserve to be able to assume combat roles, or why white nationalism sows the same dangerous seeds of hate and violence as the terrorism against which many of you have fought. 

So, in addition to your service in uniform, many of you have continued to serve as conduits for broadening peace and understanding in your own communities. As a result of your continued service, we have helped to build a deeper and more meaningful national security constituency at home. That kind of movement-building takes time and constant tending, but I believe we’ve made great strides there.

Still, as we well know, there is more work to do. As Andrea’s important work attests, the VA comes up short time and again in its care, benefits and services for women. Kris reminds us of just how much effort has been required to get the military to rectify the scores of veterans denied access to health care because of bad papers. And Won is working tirelessly to ensure that veterans can access vital financial education and training that will help them transition to civilian life. 

Beyond our borders, we face an ever mounting, increasingly tangled web of complex challenges, many of which will assuredly require our men and women in uniform to once again put themselves in harm’s way in the service of our great nation.

But today, let us join together in words of gratitude for our Truman veterans — for past service completed and the continued commitment to improving the human condition that binds us together as a community of equals.

Thank you.