WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services will lead an early morning rosary online on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and the public is invited to join him.
“What better way to start Veterans Day than to kneel and pray the rosary, invoking the intercession of Mary the Mother of God?” the archdiocese said in a Nov. 8 announcement inviting people to take part in the prayer via a livestream broadcast on the YouTube site “Many Hail Marys at a Time” — https://www.youtube.com/@Manyhailmarysatatime — at 7:45 a.m. EST.
Archbishop Broglio, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will lead participants in praying all five decades of the joyful mysteries: The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary; The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth; The Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea; The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple; and The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
Father Peter Pomposello, a U.S. Army priest recruiter based in Columbia, Maryland, will join Archbishop Broglio for the livestreamed prayer in the main chapel of the Edwin Cardinal O’Brien Pastoral Center in Washington, home base of the military archdiocese. After the rosary, Father Pomposello, who holds the rank of captain, will do a brief interview with the archbishop about Veterans Day and its significance both for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and the public at large.
In a Nov. 9 statement, Archbishop Broglio urged everyone to “stop, remember and say a prayer” for the nation’s veterans on Veterans Day. “Especially, we cannot forget those who continue to suffer the effects of their wounds either in mind or in body. They carry the reminders of their commitment and their past with them always. We ask the Lord to give them consolation and healing.”
He noted that Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 making it an annual observance, and it became a national holiday in 1938. Sixteen years later, then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day to honor all those who served their country during war or peacetime.
Pope Benedict XV called World War I a “useless slaughter,” Archbishop Broglio said. “War results from the failure of dialogue and announces the last resort. Unfortunately, it is still the reality for millions of people in our world today. We need only to think of Ukraine, the Holy Land, Syria, Africa and so many other places.”
He praised the men and women of this country who have donned uniforms and put the nation “before themselves.” “They risk their lives, sacrifice time with family and friends, set aside jobs, and often suffer the effects of their service into old age. … We pause to thank them, to say a prayer for them, and to recognize their commitment to our freedom,” he said.
“In an age when the focus is always on the idol in the mirror, they raise their right hands to defend the Constitution, undergo training, keep watch and risk everything for us,” Archbishop Broglio added. “The occasion is also propitious to remember the families who mourn the loss of a loved one or who support a disabled veteran. We pray and offer them our support.”
Across the Potomac River from Washington, in the neighboring Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, home to the Pentagon and other military installations, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge called it “a great privilege” to honor those who have served in the U.S. military.
“While we are always grateful for their allegiance to our country, we thank our veterans, pay tribute to their sacrifices and pray for them in a special way this week,” he said Nov. 6 on his “Walk Humbly” podcast. “Throughout our history, men and women in uniform secured our freedom, protected us from aggressors and defended our Constitution and way of life.”
He suggested people take time to attend a Veterans Day event or display the U.S. flag. “You could call a veteran and thank them for their service,” he added. “May we learn from their sacrifices and their courage. May God’s abundant blessings always be upon them and may he fill our world with the precious gift of his peace.”
In 2022, about 16.2 million adults in the U.S. were veterans, representing 6.2% of the total civilian population age 18 and over, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of that number, 0.8% served in World War II. Additionally, 4.1% of veterans served in the Korean War, 33.6% in the Vietnam War, and 24.4% in the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, from August 1990 to July 1991).
Of the number of veterans, 26.3% served in the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom), also termed the second Gulf War (2003-2011). The latter group includes those who, beginning September 2001, served in the war in Afghanistan, known as Operation Enduring Freedom.
Other census data show that in 2022 1.7 million veterans, or 10.3%, were female. Statistics on veterans’ race/ethnicity show that 8.6% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race); 72.3% white (not Hispanic or Latino); 12.4% African American; 2.1% Asian American; 0.8% American Indian or Alaska Native; 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and 2.8% other races (as respondents to census identified themselves).
On any given night, 40,056 veterans are homeless, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, citing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates. “Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness,” the coalition said. “Only 7% of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans.”
The number of homeless veterans has decreased by about 50% since 2009, according to HUD’s Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress, but the needs of those who are currently homeless remain, among them health care.
In one effort to address this need, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Aug. 3 of this year that it had begun deploying 25 mobile medical units, or MMUs; over the next six months sites in nearly 20 states will receive a unit to provide health care and support to homeless and at-risk veterans. The first unit was delivered Aug. 1 to Orlando, Florida, and the last unit will be delivered Feb. 26 to San Francisco.
One recipient is the Minneapolis VA. The mobile unit is a van containing medical equipment and supplies that can travel to various locations. It will help support the VA’s Homeless Patient Aligned Care Teams — staff who offer care in community settings, providing services such as health assessments, health education, preventative care and referrals to other programs and resources in the area.
On Oct. 3, Minneapolis VA representatives announced a partnership with Catholic Charities Twin Cities in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, so that the MMU can be on the campus of the Catholic agency’s Dorothy Day Place in St. Paul. It will be onsite every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., offering care to veterans.
“I appreciate the asset that this vehicle is, but more so I appreciate the mindset of service that this vehicle represents,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said at the partnership launch event at the campus. “We’re excited to see this vehicle out and about in our community, and we’re excited for our continued partnership with both Catholic Charities and the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Julie Asher is senior editor for OSV News. Follow her on X (formally Twitter) @jlasher. Contributing to this story was Rebecca Omastiak, news editor for The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.