Living in Anchorage, Alaska, I am reminded on a daily basis that freedom is not free. As an important part of our community, the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard have a significant presence that transcends their service to our nation. Combined with the very high number of veterans who make our state their home after leaving the service, active-duty members and their families provide significant civic and business leadership as well as volunteer expertise. This strengthens our quality of life in Anchorage and other places across the state. Over the past decade, our Alaska-based service members have been been regularly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. These deployments impact the service member, their families, and the broader community. This same scenario has played out in many communities across the country.
A lot can happen in a year. Twelve months ago, Osama bin Laden was the most wanted man in the world and “occupy” was just a word, not a movement. During the next year, one million men and women will leave the active duty military service and return to civilian life with their family and friends across America. They will become part of the two million men and women who have served the nation over the past decade of war.