Veterans Day


Veterans Day originally honored the military personnel who served in WWI. Currently the holiday celebrates the contributions of all living U.S. veterans, of which there are over 20 million. Join Active Minds as we explore the significance of this holiday and the issues and contributions of those who have served our country in war and peacetime.

Key Lecture Points

  • The first Veterans Day was celebrated on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the truce that ended WWI, Armistice Day honored the US military personnel who fought in that war, and dedicated the day to maintaining world peace. In 1954, after the US had participated in both WWII and the Korean War, Congress passed legislation changing the name of the holiday to Veterans Day and expanding its scope to recognize living US veterans who have served the country in war and in peacetime. In 2011, there are approximately 23.2 million veterans in the US, 1.6 million of whom are post 9/11 veterans.
  • In the history of the United States, the Federal Government has always provided some support for wounded military veterans and dependents of those killed in battle. In addition, though, Congress has at various times provided support to veterans, regardless of their condition, in the form of pensions, medical care, loans, educational subsidies and/or other benefits to veterans. Such Congressional support was provided via the Homestead Act in 1862 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1919.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury is the signature combat injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It is estimated 20% of post 9/11veterans have experienced some level of traumatic brain injury. There was little awareness of this diagnosis before the post 9/11 era. TBIs cause long-term health problems that significantly affect the lives of veterans. TBIs are also diagnosed in the general population as a result of sports injuries and car accidents. Research on TBIs will not only improve the lives of veterans with TBI but may also have an influence on how sports are played in the future.
  • Women veterans are increasing in number from today’s 1.8 million to 2.1 million by 2036. They face more challenges in transitioning to civilian life than their male counterparts, finding themselves with lower incomes and higher rates of unemployment and homelessness.

Exploration Questions

  • In what way are the challenges of today’s younger veterans different from those of previous wars?
  • How should the US Government budget for long-term costs associated with wounded veterans?

Reflective Questions

  • Do you think post 9/11 veterans face more challenges than the veterans of previous generation of vets? Why?
  • Are you a vet? What challenges did you face in transitioning back to civilian life?

More to Explore

Books for Further Reading

  • Marsh, W. B. and Bruce Carrick. Tales of War: Great Stories from Military for Every Day of the Year (paperback). Totem Books, 2011. 732 pages. These stories of war show the far-reaching consequences of a single day’s action and the courage of the people who risk their lives.
    Click here to order
  • Ward, Candace. World War One British Poets: Brooke, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and Others (paperback). Dover Publications, 1997. 64 pages. Poetry of the WWI poets.
    Click here to order