By Maureen Casey, IVMF Chief Operating Officer
Today is designated as Patriot Day and recognized as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. It is also the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that rocked our nation and many others around the globe. For me, it is all that and so much more — for on that day not only did I witness that act of terrorism first hand but I was privileged to work along-side New York’s Finest and Bravest and participate in a small way in the recovery mission that followed. On that day and the days that followed I also witnessed first-hand the kindness, generosity and support of Americans from across the country – from simple acts of kindness like holding up signs conveying support for our police officers and fire fighters to the sending of donations big and small in support of those who were working “the pile” or those who had lost loved ones. I am not aware of a time when pride in America and those who had or were serving our country was greater.
So many lives were forever changed that day – most significantly of course, those that were killed and their surviving family members, and then first responders – not only those that were a part of the response and recovery efforts but also those who 14 years later must now be prepared in a very different way to fight against and respond to acts of terrorism. Also changed were the families of those who volunteered to join the United States military because of what happened that day in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania … the lives of those men and women who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic … who knew upon enlisting that they would be going to war.
In my work over the past few years, first with JPMorgan Chase and now with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, I have been privileged to meet many of those veterans, service members and their families who were among the thousands that voluntarily chose to put themselves in harm’s way not only in response to what happened on September 11th but to protect and preserve all of the freedoms we enjoy each and every day because we are Americans. Yes, we owe these Patriots our gratitude – that is the least we can do. More importantly, though, we owe them whatever support and assistance they may need as they transition from the military back into our communities. The rules of the game in the civilian/corporate world are different than those of the military so we just need to teach them those rules. I am confident that once that happens, they will outplay those of us who have not served – every time! We should also recognize and appreciate them as the truly valuable assets they are for our communities. They have unique and valuable skills, they are team players with unparalleled leadership experience, making them an asset to any organization or event.
Because less than one percent of us have served in the military, we may not fully understand or appreciate the service – and the sacrifice – of our military and their families. This lack of understanding does not give us a pass, however. Our service members and veterans did not hesitate to take on the most dangerous of missions; therefore, those of us who have not served should not hesitate to take on this much easier mission which is to get to know and support those who have.
As we take time today to recognize in our own way this National Day of Service and Remembrance, in addition to remembering those who lost their lives in those horrific terrorist attacks, it is my hope that you will also remember those feelings of pride in America and those who have chosen to wear our Nation’s uniform … those feelings that inspired so many to do so much for these men and women. They still need our support … that should be our mission.
Maureen E. Casey is the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. Prior to joining the IVMF, Casey led JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to develop and implement a comprehensive, firm-wide strategy to assist members of the military, veterans and their families, particularly in the areas of employment, housing, education and philanthropy. From 1997 to 2002, Casey was employed with the New York City Police Department (NYPD), initially as counsel to the First Deputy Commissioner and later, from 1999-2002, as NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner.