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Northam Thanks Veterans, Reminds Virginians of Their Struggle

Man at podium
Northam addressed member of the armed forces at Wednesday's Commonwealth's Veterans Day Ceremony. (Screenshot from ceremony)

The state honored Virginia veterans Wednesday during the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial.

Gov. Ralph Northam joined several senior state officials in thanking those who served in the U.S. armed forces. A veteran of the U.S. Army himself, Northam extended gratitude to the families of those in the military.

“On behalf of all of our veterans, we could not have done what we have been able to accomplish without the support of our families,” he said.

The governor also praised the work done to help the state’s veterans find work after their military service ends. He noted the Virginia Values Veterans program has helped over 66,000 former military personnel find employment. 

Northam stressed the importance of retaining veterans in the state, saying they help all Virginians by strengthening the state’s economy. 

“Our veterans continue to serve our commonwealth everyday,” he said. “They are first responders, healthcare workers, teachers and students. They build everything from ships to computer networks. They are part of our largest businesses and our newest start-ups.”

While the ceremony was in observance of Veterans Day, Northam urged Virginians to extend their gratitude to veterans everyday. He delivered a somber reminder that 17 veterans die by suicide every day in the United States.

“We need to do more than just say thank you for your service. We need to remind our veterans each and every day that they are heroes and that they are patriots,” he said.

The ceremony concluded with a medley of military music performed by the 380th Army Reserve Band. 

Wednesday’s event was closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Clay Mountcastle, director of the Virginia War Memorial, told VPM News he hopes people come out to see the memorial on a different day.

“We know that they’re going to learn something that they didn’t know when [they] come to the war memorial,” he said. “We’ve got over 50,000 square feet of exhibit and display space. Whether it’s the medal of honor gallery or our new veteran’s art gallery that shows that veterans can do more than just serve in uniform.”

Editor’s note: If you have or suspect someone you know has had suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255.

Connor Scribner is a former VPM News assistant editor.
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