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Not many of us know what it’s like to give up personal liberty.
Even fewer of us experience dangerous places.
And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’d rather stay home.
But that’s not the veteran’s view; he (or she) — if not drafted — made a choice to join the armed forces.
That decision puts him or her out in front of everyone else when the battle or war begins. Out in front of Christians and Muslims, Democrats and Republicans, the law-abiding and the law-breakers, the rich and the poor.
The members of the nation’s armed services come and go as directed by the government. Their job is service, and it comes at great personal risk and sacrifice.
And that is how a veteran comes to be.
Alaska had 71,004 veterans in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Women accounted for nearly 13 percent and men, 87 percent.
Eighty-nine of Alaska veterans were homeless, but the annual household income for vets living in the state came to $85,518. Veterans own 8,013 of the state’s private businesses. They continue to serve by providing goods and services.
Most of Alaska’s veterans served in the Vietnam Era, the census shows — about 30 percent. Just below 25 percent were in the Gulf War II; a little over 20 percent were enlisted, but served during peacetime.
Gulf War I veterans in Alaska total a little under 20 percent, with Korean War and World War II veterans under 5 and 3 percent, respectively.
The majority of veterans live in the cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks and the Southeast region, but are represented in communities throughout the state.
This Veterans Day we thank the veterans. And express our appreciation to veterans’ families, who in many ways sacrifice along with their member of the armed services.
They’re the best of us. The bravest, most generous and selfless, the most deserving of our appreciation. We thank them for their service.