As we approach the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we once again honor military veterans on Veterans Day, particularly living veterans. During my lifetime and 26 years of active duty service, I have seldom been more proud of our military members than I am today. I have served through periods when the military was honored and times when I was advised not wear my uniform in public. On the 11th we honor our military. They are worthy of our honor.

While many of my peers and I were encouraged to enlist, today’s young people are all volunteers and willingly sign-up to serve in harm’s way if called. They represent the best that this country has to offer. Their profiles are commendable. Let me share a few facts about these fine young men and women.

Approximately 80% of the officer corps have bachelor’s degrees, 42% hold advanced degrees. Along with their professional education many seek post graduate degrees as well. In fact, they are four times more likely to seek post graduate degrees than their 18-44 year old peers in the civilian sector.

Your enlisted corps is made up of some 92% with high school diplomas and some college. Compare this with the 60% of their peers in the 18-44 year old general population. Additionally, approximately 7% have bachelor’s degrees.

What makes them serve? There are lots of possible reasons, maybe the educational opportunities, the adventure, and some for the discipline. I also like to think that many serve because of pride in country and a feeling of duty as patriots. Regardless, they all volunteer to serve and I believe they will all have a greater pride in the United States following their service.

We as Americans should be extremely proud of our uniformed personnel on Veterans Day and every day. Remember, it is this group of mostly young Americans who serve in far flung places to defend our rights to celebrate being Americans. Today they protect us while we enjoy living in the best country in the history of the world. Remember also, that their families contribute to that service. Our veterans and young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines deserve the “thank you for your service” that many give them when we know they serve.

Col. Quentin M. Thomas, USAF, Ret.


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