Holly Beauchamp, a junior at Marquette Catholic High School in Bellevue, has made it to nationals in the 2021 American Legion Americanism Essay Contest sponsored by The Bellevue American Legion Auxiliary Unit 273. Beachamp’s essay was one of five submitted earlier this year from students at both Bellevue High School and Marquette Catholic. The theme of the essay contest this year was "How can we address the health and well-being of our veterans, military and their families?” Beauchamp’s essay was the winner of the entire State Legion Auxiliary and will now be judged at the national level. Pictured above is Dianne Strickler Americanism Chair of the ALA Unit 273 (right) presenting the state certificate to Beauchamp (left). The winning essay is reprinted here.
Make sure the veterans in our life do not become another statistic
By Holly Beauchamp
Marquette Catholic High School
In 24 hours, 18 veterans will have taken their life (Veteran Affairs Department). We honor those who serve, but never give attention to the myriad of issues veterans have to battle with in daily life, ranging from risk of unemployment to struggling with mental illness. As a community, we are responsible for upholding the quality of life for everyone, including those forgotten or overlooked. By identifying the numerous underlying struggles veterans face, we are able to combat them through attentive care, which in turn benefits the community as a whole.
Too often does a community only pay attention to its veterans on November 11th and not the other 364 days of the year. Honoring veterans is not enough; we often forget that veterans are humans as well, and as humans, we all require social interaction and human connections. Lack of the aforementioned coupled with weak support networks lead to the downgrade of veteran life, as they could find themselves homeless (as they have no one to reach out to in times of financial woes), or worse, contemplating suicide. In order to combat these problems, the community as a whole must learn to interact with their veterans outside of veteran-centered holidays, and appreciate them for who they are, not merely their service.
Any sort of loss of life is tragic, especially self-inflicted. We are trained to honor the deceased and pass out meaningless information on how to prevent the next tragedy. The reason why it fails is due to the lack of human interaction; we are unaware of the red flags because we are not familiar with the person themselves. Quality time spent with veterans can be another life saved. If problems are worse underneath the surface, then the community or family close must take it upon themselves to guide the struggling veteran to mental health counseling, as well as not shunning veterans for expressing the tragic experiences they encountered.
Veterans are often left with no aid adjusting to civilian life. Their experiences in their service are not always transferrable, leaving them vulnerable in the competitive civilian workforce. Therefore, it is imperative as a community to provide help in any form that they can, in order to decrease the likelihood of the veteran falling into homelessness. Such aid can be shown in community-run job fairs, as well as individuals reaching out to help care for other possible needs, such as guiding them to affordable house care or temporarily providing meals if needed.
A healthy community can only be possible through everyone caring for one another. After all veterans have sacrificed, it is only our respective responsibility to return the favor and help them in any way or shape we can. Our civic duty is to make sure the veterans in our life do not become another statistic. We all must do our fair share in helping one another; as the saying goes, ‘united we stand, divided we fall.’
Veteran Affairs Department. “VA.gov: Veterans Affairs.” Veteran Suicide Data and Reporting, 14 Sept. 2018, www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/data.asp.