U.S. military veterans have risked their lives to defend American freedom, served as political leaders and have built lasting organizations that have benefited communities throughout the nation. American citizens began taking a day to remember those who served following the Civil War, but the nation officially recognized a federal holiday in 1971 to honor all of those who died in American wars.
Today there are about 22 million veterans who have served in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Here are five ways those who have served have and continue to serve communities.
American Legion: The patriotic veterans organization was founded by Congress in 1919. Perhaps most well-known for sponsoring baseball leagues and Boy Scout troops, the American Legion is involved in a number of youth organizations. The group has invested millions of dollars and led millions of volunteer hours.
The Mission Continues: The nonprofit helps veterans use the skills they have developed in the military to serve communities throughout the nation. The nonprofit has won numerous awards and honors for their work throughout the nation.
VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars annually donates more than 11 million volunteer hours and $50 million to community projects, according to the nonprofit’s website. March of Dimes and the Boy Scouts of America are two organizations that work with the VFW.
AmeriCorps: The program focuses on intense community service work to meet the needs of a community. Since its founding in 1994, AmeriCorps has a number of different functions from helping bring people out of poverty to developing leaders. Since its inception, more than 17,000 veterans have served in AmeriCorps.
Presidents: The nation has had 26 presidents with a military background, including the nation’s first president, George Washington. Today, there are 80 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who served in the military.