Haddad: Give food, give money, wave or salute, but don’t judge

A veteran asks for help in the Prescott area. (Photo by Richard Haddad/WNI with permission from the veteran)

A veteran asks for help in the Prescott area. (Photo by Richard Haddad/WNI with permission from the veteran)

“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

This quote is often attributed to famed Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, but it has also been credited to Plato, Socrates and others.

Whether it was uttered by a children’s book author or a Greek philosopher, anyone who has ever suffered through adversity can recognize the wisdom in this mantra.

Today, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918. It is a day our nation and others have set aside to honor veterans and victims of all wars.

In the U.S. today there are more than 20 million veterans. Many of them fought battles to protect our freedoms. Many of them are fighting some kind of battle still today.

Last month I was parked in a parking lot in Prescott and I watched as cars drove past a man standing in the rain holding a cardboard sign that read, “Veteran. Needs help please...”

When we see these men and women what do we think, and what do we do?

Do we avert our gaze? Do we harbor thoughts of, “Is he really a veteran?” Do we surmise, “He’s probably panhandling to buy drugs or alcohol”? Do we conclude, “If he can stand there he can get a job”?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates up to 13 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans. In one report it was estimated nearly 300,000 service members show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Their battles may include unemployment, physical, mental or emotional illness.

As I pondered what this veteran needed, what I concluded was what he and other veterans don’t need. They do not need our harsh judgment.

On this Veterans Day, and every day, may we withhold our judgment. Perhaps we can give food or money, or maybe share a friendly wave or honor them with a salute.

Whether they’ve been out of the service for days or decades we do not know the battles they face.

If you want to help in a way that you can be confident your giving will make a difference for local veterans, I recommend you contact Prescott’s U.S. VETS organization by calling 928-583-7204, or visit usvetsinc.org/prescott. You can also find them on Facebook at facebook.com/usvetsprescott.

U.S. VETS is the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk veterans. The Courier has followed and supported their mission for many years, and they truly make a difference in the Quad cities. U.S. VETS is also a qualifying nonprofit for the AZ Tax Credit.

When it comes to judging others I appreciate what my wife always taught our five children. She told them, “Most people do the best they can with what they have.”

I am a veteran. I know veterans and loved ones who struggle with mental illness, PTSD and other disabilities. I believe that in most cases, the people I know fighting these battles do the best they can with what they have. May we lift rather than press down.

May we consider all that we have been blessed with in our lives, and then do something kind.

Richard Haddad is News & Digital Content Director for Western News&Info, Inc., the parent company of Prescott News Network, Inc.



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