This month, we celebrate Veterans Day. It is an important day to recognize the sacrifices our fellow citizens have made and continue to make while serving our nation and securing our freedoms. While some of these sacrifices make headlines, many of them will never be widely known. Yet, we enjoy our freedoms today because our fellow citizens made the choice to serve.
Many people forget that our military service is voluntary. People choose to join the military knowing they must waive certain freedoms to serve. Starting with a grueling bootcamp and challenging technical trainings, they are then assigned far from their hometowns and support systems to begin a hard life based on strict discipline, immense pressure, and a commitment to values apart from the rest of society.
Throughout their time in uniform, there is the imminent knowledge that at any moment, they will be harm’s way. I am amazed how many people selflessly volunteer to join our armed forces given the sacrifices that come with service are no secret. Yet, we continue to sleep well at night because these brave men and women answer the call to duty and develop a passion for service.
While deployed, they do more than just serve our country, they serve the communities to which they are assigned. Whether this means helping local farmers get their crops to market, securing time and space for religious leaders to practice their ministry, or simply letting children play outside—they represent the best of America to the rest of the world.
Even after taking off the uniform, Veterans continue to serve their communities for the rest of their lives. Serving their country is part of who they are; it is engrained in their DNA.
And for all that, it is important to say THANK YOU!
Those of us in the credit union industry understand this call and passion for service. It is evident in all that we do for our members each day. From our dedication to the un- and underbanked communities and other vulnerable populations to our commitment to financial education for all, the credit union difference is everywhere. Providing these services is the heart and soul of our movement.
I recently saw this credit union spirit in action as credit unions stepped up to help our Afghan Allies, who were brought to our nation’s shores with nothing but the clothes on their back. Our credit unions have been instrumental in providing immediate financial relief so other aid agencies could provide food, clothing, and shelter.
Many of these allies still face challenges in gaining access to the U.S. financial system. Our own Armed Forces Financial Network (AFFN) is helping to fill this gap with pre-funded debit cards. AFFN has done all this without any hassle, long wait times, or frustrating bureaucratic decision cycles. It is simply “people helping people” in the finest tradition of service!
Service before self is what drives excellence in any organization. People helping people and serving those who serve our country aren’t just words to us; they underscore everything we do. Yet, we would not be able to complete our mission without the brave men and women serving in our armed forces around the world.
From one group of service-focused members to another, we say thank you. Thank you for service, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for representing the best that we can be.