Veterans Day observed at Montana Veterans Memorial

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
  • 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
Patriotic citizens braved strong winds and cold temperatures to attend the Great Falls Veterans Day ceremony held at the Montana Veterans Memorial November 11.

Originally the celebration was known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I. Today, Veterans Day now honors veterans of all services who have served their country.

Montana 8th District Court Judge Gregory Pinski served as the guest speaker at the event and discussed the benefits of establishing special courts for military veterans.

"There are 2.6 million who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Judge Pinski. "One in five suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or major depression. 320,000 of those veterans suffer from traumatic brain injury. One in six suffers from a substance abuse disorder. There are 22 veterans who commit suicide every day. In the last year, more veterans committed suicide than troops who were lost in ten years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan."  

Judge Pinski said during his speech that many returning veterans experience an inability to adjust to life at home and that may lead to unemployment, homelessness and arrests. He said 700,000 veterans are incarcerated in jails, with many arrested for charges relating to the trauma they experienced in war or an addiction or mental illness.

He said veterans treatment courts can provide an alternative to incarceration.

"Without a veterans treatment court, veterans may end up in jail, separated from their family, without treatment and stuck in a cycle from which they may never recover," said Judge Pinski. "In a veterans treatment court, the veterans are surrounded by other vets, they receive veteran specific treatment and they're connected with a veteran mentor to help them get their life back on track."

The ceremony included special remarks provided by the Governor of Montana and the Commander in Chief of the Montana National Guard, Steve Bullock.

"While we've taken important steps to fulfill our promises to veterans, we must recognize our work on this is indeed, never done," said Governor Bullock. "We can't ever fully repay our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice, but we must never stop trying and always remain vigilant and forward thinking."

The Veterans Day ceremony at the Montana Veterans Memorial concluded with a member of the Marine Corps League playing Taps for fallen veterans.