Jesse and EthanSince I came to The NEWS in January, I’ve met dozens of interesting people, from contractors and technicians to regulatory experts and other industry leaders. One thing that has surprised me over the past year is how many of you were, or still are, in the military. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struck up a conversation at an industry convention, or even during a phone interview, to eventually discover the person I’m talking with boasts military experience. In fact, a couple of contractors I’ve talked to for stories recently are still in the military, serving as officers in the Army Reserve or National Guard.

What isn’t as surprising, though, is how humble most veterans are about the time they’ve spent in the military. I’m still in contact with many of the people I trained and served with 10 years ago, and when Veterans Day rolls around, I watch them spend the day brushing off thanks from others and playing down their service. “It’s no big deal,” many of them say.

Well, I’m sorry, but they’re wrong — it is a big deal. I know they are immensely proud to have served their country, but they are also incredibly modest. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. And while shaking a veteran’s hand is a good way to show your appreciation and thanks today, there is always more we can do.

We can donate to one of many charities that exist to help veterans, including the Wounded Warrior Project, Homes for Our Troops, and many, many others. (For a list of top national charities that benefit members of the military, click here.) Many local charities are also in perpetual need of volunteers, so if you can’t afford to donate, you can always give your time.

In our industry, programs and foundations exist to help veterans transition back to civilian life. The HVACR Workforce Development Foundation helps returning veterans begin a career in HVACR, and the UA works hand-in-hand with veterans to accomplish the same through its UA VIP program. Many contractors, distributors, and manufacturers also sacrifice their own time and resources to help build homes for returning or injured veterans. The HVACR industry has certainly given a lot of support to the military.

So, to our veteran readers out there, thank you for all that you have done for our country. I truly appreciate your service and your sacrifice. To my ex husband, pictured above with our son the day he deployed to Afghanistan, thank you again for your service — we are proud of you. To my grandma, who was a 1LT in the Army during WWII, thank you for being a pioneer and serving your country in a time when very few women did. And to grandpa, an MSG in the Army who swept grandma off her feet during a military training exercise in a gas chamber nearly 70 years ago, thank you for your service (and for the fantastic love story that will be passed down through our family for many generations to come).

Today is about recognizing and commending our military veterans. I encourage you to do something, say something, donate something — anything to show that you care. And if you are a veteran yourself, you deserve every single bit of thanks and gratitude you will hopefully receive today. You sure as hell earned it.

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