Veteran's Corner

It’s National Military Appreciation Month!

82nd Airborne Division paratroopers redeploy.

By Donna Reuss

Alexandria, VA – May is all about our military, honoring current and former members of the US Armed Forces, living and deceased, and their families.

The late Senator John McCain introduced legislation in 1999 to designate May as National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM). He chose May because it already has many days recognizing US military achievements. The intent was for all Americans to honor, remember, recognize, and appreciate the sacrifices of those who served or are now serving and to know the history behind it all.

Starting off NMAM is Loyalty Day, May 1, a day set aside to reaffirm loyalty to the United States and reflect on the proud heritage of our American freedom.

May 1 is also Silver Star Service Banner Day. While the day pays respect to those who have received the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest military decoration for valor in combat, it more broadly recognizes the sacrifices of all service members and veterans who have died, become ill, or been injured in combat.

Monday, May 8, is Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day, the day in 1945 when the Germans in Europe surrendered to the Allies, marking the end of World War II in Europe.

Next, May 10 is National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation recognizing the sacrifices of military spouses and the vital role military families play in the readiness and well-being of military members. Congress officially made the day part of NMAM in 1999, and the Department of Defense standardized the day as the Friday before Mother’s Day.

Children of Fallen Patriots Day is May 13. More than 15,000 children have lost parents in military conflict in the past 25 years. The day honors these children and raises awareness of their sacrifices and struggles with the death of a parent. Although not nationally recognized, 27 states and the District of Columbia observe Children of Fallen Patriots Day, and the governors of these States, including Virginia, have joined the effort to declare it an official day of remembrance.

Also not a federal holiday, the third Saturday in May is Armed Forces Day, May 18 this year. The day pays tribute to those currently serving in all six US military branches.

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At one time, there was a separate day of celebration for each branch. In 1950, President Harry Truman established a day to jointly celebrate all branches recently united under the new Department of Defense. The first Armed Forces Day was marked with parades and air shows around the country, including a march in Washington, DC, of more than 10,000 troops and cadets from every part of the military.

Armed Forces Week, the week leading up to Armed Forces Day, is also not an official observance, but activities are often planned to recognize military service members.

While many now consider Memorial Day as nothing more than the unofficial start of summer, the Federal holiday, observed on the last Monday in May, commemorates the men and women who died while in military service. It is May 27 this year. Wherever they are that day, all Americans are encouraged to pause at 3:00 pm local time for a minute of silence.

May is also the Month of the Military Caregiver. Each year, it is observed to support troops and military families to raise awareness of wounded warriors and pay tribute to the more than five million caregivers caring for more than two million veterans.

Over 200,000 Northern Virginians are current or former military: 24,000 active duty, 18,000 reserves or National Guard, and 168,000 veterans. However, the percentage of the US population with military experience is declining. According to the US Census Bureau, veterans dropped from 18% of adults in 1980 to only 6% in 2022.

Active-duty numbers also dropped after the draft ended, from 3.5 million in 1968 to about 1.3 million in today’s all-volunteer force, with another 770,000 National Guard/Reserves and 39,000 members of the Coast Guard. Active-duty service members now comprise less than 1% of US adults.

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“Only one percent of our population today will ever wear the uniform of this nation in any of its incarnations…” said Air Force General Paul J. Selva, then Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention in June 2018. That one percent, those sons and daughters of our citizens, are the treasure of this nation.”

During this National Military Appreciation Month, show that you treasure those who willingly offer themselves to protect our freedom and the ones who support them. Take a few minutes to acknowledge a service member, veteran, or family. Show your support on social media with #MilitaryAppreciationMonth. Advocate for legislation affecting military members and families through VoterVoice. Or volunteer with a Department of Veterans Affairs or other veterans or caregiver program in your area.


If you are a veteran, a veteran’s family member, or know a veteran who needs help, go to Virginia Board Veterans Services at;; contact American Legion Post 24 Veteran Service Officer at [email protected]; or check out the Resources List on the Post 24 website: The VA Caregiver Support Line is 1-855-260-3274. For crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, dial 988 and Press 1, or text 838255 for the Veterans Crisis Line.

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