In honor of Veterans Day, President Obama participates in a wreath laying ceremony before delivering remarks at Arlington National Cemetery. Watch:
Leaving the military can be challenging for many service members. From worrying about their next career steps, to deciding whether to go back to school, to finding a path forward through the mental and physical wounds of war, veterans face a unique set of challenges in navigating their post-military lives.
Patrick Holbrook, a young veteran from Hawaii, wrote to the President about his struggles with these fears. As Patrick says, "I wasn't afraid in Afghanistan, but I am horrified at the thought of my future."
When President Obama took office nearly eight years ago, he made a commitment to make sure veterans like Patrick get the care and support they need when transition back to civilian life. And today, we've made important progress. We've cut veteran homelessness in half. We're delivering mental health care to more veterans than ever before. More veterans have access to health care and the unemployment rate among veterans has been cut by more than half since its peak in 2011. And in all 50 states, veterans who have recently transitioned out of the military qualify for in-state tuition at public universities. But President Obama knows there’s more work to do to address the challenges that veterans face — and that the task of serving those who have fought for us will never be finished.
You can read Patrick's letter and the President's response below. And for more information on mental health resources for veterans, visit VA.gov.
Dear, Mr. President
It's late in the evening here in Oahu, and the sun will soon be sinking behind the horizon onto the ocean. I sight that gives me comfort when times are confusing, and peace at the end of a long day. Sir, I was injured in Afghanistan in 2011 it was my first deployment, and my last. I was medically retired from the US Army, and after some discussion with my family moved here to help heal the wounds -- it is slow in coming, but I remain hopeful. I started college when I arrived here it has been a difficult experience, but this summer God willing; I will be a college graduate. It's a funny thing fear, I wasn't afraid in Afghanistan, but I am horrified at the thought of my future. I want to serve my country, make a difference, and live up to the potential my family sees in me. I am scared I think, because I have no plan on what employment to pursue. It is something that is extremely difficult to me, and with my family leaving the island soon; I am truly lost. Sir, all my life I've tried to find what a Good man is, and be that man, but I release now life is more difficult for some. I'm not sure where I am going, and it is something that I can not shake. P.S. I watched your final State of the Union, and I thought it was well spoken. I too dream of a sustainable future for the next generation.
Patrick A. Holbrook
Read the President's response:
The White House
Thank you for your thoughtful letter, and more importantly for your service and sacrifice. I can tell from your letter you are already a good man; you just need to find the calling that will express that goodness -- or it will find you. So trust yourself, and remember that your Commander in Chief didn't know what he would do with his life till he was in his thirties!
Read more letters from veterans to President Obama, and explore all the letters in the Letters to President Obama archive at whitehouse.gov/letters.