Bay Area veterans reflect on what Veteran's Day means to them
LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KTVU) - In his eight years in the army, Steven Barnes was deployed to Iraq twice. Veterans Day means a lot to him.
"It's a day of remembrance. Being proud," said Barnes.
Barnes now works part-time at the veterans center in Concord. It's a place that offers counseling for those who saw combat or suffered trauma in the military. And it offers help re-adjusting to civilian life.
"Discipline, honor, loyalty, getting the job done. What does that mean when getting a certification for a company," said Barnes.
Barnes is also studying to become a physical therapist. He says it can be difficult re-entering society after a military tour.
"You don't just go from being a rifleman to it's over. What am I going to do with the rest of my life. That was the hardest part," said Barnes.
"It's is easy to walk up to someone and say thank you for your service. What is difficult is the ongoing support," said Felisa Gaffney, a psychologist at the clinic.
Before that, she spent 20 years in the Air Force, serving in Kuwait twice including just after 9/11. Many vets are coping with post traumatic stress disorder. Apparently including the gunman in Thousand Oaks last week, Ian David Long, who police say killed 12 people.
"War is not easy. It is hard. Our bodies do what it does in response to something that is horrific. I would like everyone to meet them with compassion. I think we forget our compassion," said Gaffney.
Barnes said despite the difficulties re-acclimating, he has no regrets.
"I'd do it again. I wouldn't change anything. I'd do it again 100 percent."
Many of those who served say people should recognize veterans in some way, not just on Veterans Day, but every day.