Veterans Day is Nov. 11 so this is a good time to contemplate what Veterans Day symbolizes and what our obligation is to the veterans honored on that day, other than a day off from work. I am familiar with a veterans group who exemplifies the very best of what being a soldier means in America. The Low Country Veterans Group.
In the four years since they were founded by Commander Franklin Rutledge, a retired Top Sergeant and combat veteran of multiple deployments in Iraq, and with the invaluable help of men like Theodore “Big Russ” Russell a Vietnam combat veteran and the original owner of Drunken Jacks Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, have given hope and material assistance to other combat veterans that the Veterans Administration had chosen to marginalize or ignore completely.
I have worked with combat veterans since the early 1980s when they were released to outpatient care having spent time in the Charleston Naval Base Psychiatric Hospital for symptoms of PTSD. Despite this they were given diagnosis by the VA that made the veterans problems seem unrelated to their military service. The Low Country Veterans Group was the first grassroots organization to actually dedicate itself to fight for the veterans and provide them with the social and psychological support needed to help them reintegrate into society after being permanently altered by the necessities of combat.
The Low Country Veterans Group is a 502 c charitable organization. They solicit and accept donations, 100 percent of which goes directly to veterans. They cover their overhead with member dues. But, more important than money, is the support we as a community can show by coming to the Veterans Day event sponsored by the Low country Veterans Group. The event starts at 10 a.m. on the Georgetown Housing Authority grounds at 1 Lincoln St., just off North Merriman Road. Knowing that the citizens they served, at the risk of their life, and sacrificing their piece of mind, often for a lifetime, appreciate their sacrifice enough to take time out of the holiday to come out and show support for their service means more than anything else to these veterans.
We live in a time where dissatisfaction with the government is as high as it has ever been. It is also a time where useful public participation is at the lowest it has ever been. Even if you don’t think there is any politician worth voting for or any cause important enough to support, our citizen soldiers have fought for our country since the battles of Lexington and Concord, fought on April 19, 1775. That’s 239 years of sacrifice and courage and loyalty by men who don’t benefit as much from the freedom they give their lives for as the citizens they protect. It seems a small sacrifice to spend some time on Veterans Day showing respect to those who have served us so selflessly.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.