Recognition, support of active and former service members vital to functional community


Chaplain Jeff Owens stands at attention next to the American flag.

Tidewater hosts countless military bases, installments, and personnel, including the largest naval base in the world, but with a sunshine-filled paradise where over a million people work and live, U.S. veterans and service members are frequently overlooked.

“We say ‘respect the veterans,’ but many people do not truly understand the respect they actually deserve,” said sophomore Ashley Owens. “I think it has become a cliche to ‘support our troops,’ and many people do not take it to heart.”

Ocean Lakes boasts 360 active duty familes out of 2,001 students, with additional retired and reservist military families. With at least a quarter or more of the population linked to the military, recognition of the sacrifices most families endure is crucial.

Organizations such as United Services Organizations (USO), Wounded Warrior, and Semper Fi Fund can help struggling veterans more directly.

“Appreciating the sacrifices military families make, both active service and veterans, is the best way to show gratitude,” said sophomore Sam Cutler. “Donating to charities is wonderful, but don’t forget about just saying ‘thanks.’”

Every year brave service members die in combat and training. Some make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and families are left to grieve.

“Death affects everyone, but we could try to have events to remember the fallen ones and make the pain less than it already is for the families,” said son of Navy Senior Chief, freshman Kevin Johnson.

With shifting politics in Washington, many veterans cannot consistently rely on the Department of Veteran Affairs, or VA. Though the VA offers many services towards veterans and families, bureaucracy and budget can sometimes affect the care received.

“I believe small acts of recognition go a long way…because military families often sacrifice much, anything communities can do to support them is a great way to honor the veteran,” said Chaplain Jeff Owens, a United States Navy lieutenant.