For so many veterans who exited the armed forces after years of service, taking off the uniform doesn’t always mean they’ve also dropped their packs, Mayor Howard Hart noted.
“I’d like to emphasize that veteran service does not end when we leave the military,” Hart said. “Many veterans continue to serve our communities, our country and our fellow veterans in countless ways. We volunteer, we mentor, we teach, we lead and we inspire.”
Getting involved in service as a civilian, Hart said, was one of the “wisest things” he did when he left active-duty service. Delivering the keynote address for this year’s Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Park on Saturday, Nov. 11, Hart encouraged others to do the same.
“Continued service helps veterans cope with the challenges many of us face,” he said. “Many veterans struggle with physical and mental scars. We also face difficulties in initially finding employment or social support.”
“By engaging in meaningful activities that give us a sense of purpose and belonging,” Hart continued, “veterans can improve our wellbeing and our self esteem. We also find new ways to use the skills and talents that we acquired in the military.”
Saturday’s event, which the American Legion Post 721 and the City of San Juan Capistrano hosted, saw dozens of people and local dignitaries gather with veterans who served across all branches of the armed forces.
It also featured Leah and Lilah Navarro of the Orange County School of Arts, who performed the National Anthem, and was catered by local Mexican eatery Ricardo’s Place.
In closing his address, Hart stressed the importance for veterans to continue serving in their communities as it’s both beneficial to themselves as they transition to civilian life and to those whom they’re serving.
“It enriches the lives of U.S. veterans, and of those we serve,” he said. “It strengthens the bonds of community and our great country. It honors the legacy of those who have served before us and it serves as an example to those who serve today.