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The Dixon Center and veterans

Lakewood's Rally Point 6 a part of the solution

Begun in 1919 at the end of World War I, Veterans Day remembers all veterans from all wars, a theme emphasized by the Dixon Center. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Veterans create enduring bonds.

"The bonds that exist on the battlefield are unlike any bonds that you can imagine," Col. David Sutherland, USA (Ret.) and chairman of the Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, said in an address this past August. "And when we come home those bonds are ripped apart."

For veterans like Sutherland, Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the service, sacrifice and love of nation for those who have been and remain part of something greater than themselves by serving in the armed forces.

In thinking about the national holiday set aside Nov. 11 to honor all veterans Sutherland continued, "Today we thank the 22 million living veterans who have proudly served our country."

Sutherland underlined the need for Americans to work together to honor - and help - returning veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hence the reason for and creation of the Dixon Center, which is based in Washington, D.C.

"I think we are doing a mediocre job at recognizing the long-term potential of these great men and women. That's why the goal of the Easter Seals Dixon Center is to change the conversation about veterans and military families."

In other words, honoring veterans should be as immediate duty as it is a lasting obligation.

"It is my great fear that as the wars recede from the minds of the American public, veterans and military families will be forgotten," continued Sutherland.

Staff Sgt. Donnie Dixon, a member of Sutherland's security team, died in the line of duty Sept. 29, 2007 in Iraq. To honor his memory and sacrifice - and to address the needs of veterans - Sutherland and Navy veteran Kimberly Mitchell formed the Dixon Center. Partnering with non-profit communities such as the Easter Seals, the center actively promotes the best use of resources and community support to ensure reintegration and success in civilian, family and community life for veterans.

Closer to home, the Dixon Center played a role in helping to stand up Lakewood's Rally Point 6.

"It's time to break down the barriers that clog up the ability for veterans to succeed where they live," Sutherland concluded.

"The needs of veterans and military families are evolving; they are not disappearing."

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