How does an organization that honors military Veterans every day observe Veterans Day? By recognizing the progress made, by acknowledging the work still to do, and by striving for the future betterment of our country’s heroes.
The Early Days of Veteran Care
When US Army Veteran Peter Cameron returned home from Vietnam, he witnessed the severe reintegration issues plaguing other returning Vietnam Veterans. There was hostility towards those who’d served. These Vietnam Veterans suffered physical harm, emotional harm, and came home to a country that simply didn’t have sufficient support systems in place to assist Peter’s fellow soldiers.
In 1972, Peter and three other Vietnam Veterans founded ‘Flower of the Dragon’ – now ‘Nation’s Finest’ – to provide their fellow Veterans with the support they needed. This pioneering non-profit became a model of Veteran support, recognized by the White House for its comprehensive services in mental health and employment. Through this initiative, Peter offered a lifeline to over 200 Veterans annually, advocating for a community deeply in need of compassion and support.
Honoring Veterans Every Day
Today, Nation’s Finest continues his mission, with 31 locations in 16 mostly rural communities across California, Nevada, and Arizona. The organization provides critical Veteran services and support for over 7,000 Veterans and their families annually. A testament to Peter Cameron’s enduring legacy of service and advocacy for those who served, this past year marked 50 years of guiding our Veterans home.
But there is still work to be done. Around 17 US Veterans commit suicide… Not every year. Not every month. Every day. In the average time it takes you to watch a movie on Netflix, a Veteran will commit suicide. That’s more than 6,000 lives lost per year. This is unacceptable.
Why is this? In addition to PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other common mental health complications, issues with employment and housing can compound the mental toll that many Veterans grapple with.
It is estimated that there are 250,000 unemployed Veterans in the United States alone. Last year, more than 33,000 Veterans experienced some form of homelessness. The issues surrounding Veteran mental health, in addition to these employment and housing insecurities, are impossible to ignore. More action is needed.
A Commitment to Veterans on Veterans Day
It is this action that Peter Cameron and the Nation’s Finest team have strived to spur for the past 50 years. It is this action that we aim to continue providing for another 50 years.
Our new Nation’s Finest 50 Community Awareness Program is reaching Veterans, sharing stories, and honoring heroes in communities near you. On Friday, November 10, we’re connecting with the community at Santa Rosa’s Schulz Museum to recognize Veterans Day. Join us as we honor local heroes, like Peter Cameron, who have gone above and beyond to support our Veterans and their families.
In addition to our 31 locations across the West, our new Mobile Service Unitsare hitting the road for those who can’t. They provide the overwhelming amount of Veterans living in rural communities, or living without homes, with direct access to the care they need.
This Veterans Day, Nation’s Finest reaffirms its commitment to our country’s heroes. We will continue to innovate our methods of reaching communities of Veterans in need. Nation’s Finest will continue to provide a comprehensive approach to housing, health, and employment to ensure that no Veteran is left behind.
How You Can Help
In addition to joining us at the Charles Schulz Museum on Friday, November 10, you can make a difference in the lives of Veterans by supporting programs that connect those who’ve served to the resources they need.
This Veterans Day, please considering supporting Nation’s Finest with a charitable donation and give the gift of hope to our country’s heroes and their families!