Veteran's Day 2016: Five things you didn't know about the holiday

While many people today simply associate it with parades and free meals, there's a deep history to the event 

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The Independent US

Veteran's Day, a US national holiday, commorates the end of the First World War and pays tribute to all Americans who served in the country's armed forces. 

When did it start?

The state and federal holiday, often confused with Memorial Day, dates back to World War I. Just before the war ended there was a ceasefire between the Allied forces and Germany before the 11th hour of the 11th month. Congress eventually passed a law creating the holiday in 1926 and it became a national holiday in 1938. Years later, in 1954, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veteran's Day.

Why is it not called Armistice Day? 

It was originally known by this name in the US, just as it still is in the UK and other countries.  It was dedicated to the troops who died in the First World War. However, after the Second World War, a veteran of that conflict, Raymond Weeks, campaigned for the day to be expanded to honour the veterans of all wars. 

In 1954, Congress amended the wording to reflect the growing desire to honour all soldiers and former soldiers. The name stuck. 

Who is off?

The US Postal Service along with all state and federal offices will be closed on Friday. Most schools will also be closed for the holiday.

The annual Veteran’s Day parade is expected to draw 500,000 attendees to 5th Avenue in Manhattan on Friday as many New Yorkers mourn the results of the presidential election - more than 79 percent of residents voted for Hillary Clinton.

Across the country, restaurants and fast food chains will offer free meals to veterans. 


What issues do veterans face?

Soldiers who have served in conflict can often face huge problems on returning to civilian life.

Some may be permanently crippled or face poverty and isolation.

Even if they are physically uninjured, many veterans face serious mental health issues. In particular, combat stress can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is believed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to affect 11 per cent of Afghan war veterans and 20 per cent of Iraq war veterans. 

PTSD is a potentially serious mental health issue, which can have a severe negative effect on the mental health of veterans. 

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What symptoms might someone with PTSD have?

Veterans with PTSD may experience nightmares or flashbacks, and these may be triggered by certain situations which remind someone with the condition of a stressful event, perhaps in combat. 

Avoiding certain events and feeling numb, empty or suicidal can be related to PTSD. Conversely, some people might be constantly alert and looking for danger, like they might in a combat situation. 

A Veteran experiencing these or other unusual behaviours should seek professional help. In the US, the National Centre for PTSD is a good place to start.