They were there on the snow-capped, treacherous and jagged mountaintops of Afghanistan.

They were there in the tropical plains and humid wetlands of Africa.

They were there in the dusty, waterless sandbowls of Iraq and Kuwait. 

They were there on the sticky and sultry beaches of Korea. 

They were there in the blazing hot sunshine of Saudi Arabia. 

They were there in the dense jungles and muddy waters of Vietnam.

They were there amidst destruction and devastation throughout Europe. 

They were there on swaying ships and submerged submarines in waters around the world. 

Wherever they were they were laced up and ready to face each day for each other and for you and for me. 

Over the years, U.S. Armed Forces have operated more than 800 military bases in 70 countries around the world; the now 19 million of them have fought the enemy face to face in countries many of us will never see. They’ve served and protected. They’ve volunteered and been drafted. They’ve enlisted and become officers. They’ve courageously entered combat and comforted and cared for one another and others. They’ve separated, served their contract or retired. 

Some are battle worn and weary. Others still tight-lipped and silent about what they’ve seen. Most all are humbled and proud to carry the name Veteran. 

No matter who they are, where they’ve been or what they’ve done, veterans of America’s Armed Forces deserve our utmost gratitude. They deserve more than one day of thanks out of 365. 

Their stories have shaken my soul; shattered my expectations and assured my steadfast support in the days, months and years to come. Even if you are just starting or stalwart in your conviction to give back to those who have given so much, it’s never too late or too long or too often to say, and more importantly to show, “Thank you for your service.”