Thank you to all veterans! For your time, commitment and sacrifices to our great country.

Do you know why the United States of America celebrates its veterans on Nov. 11 every year? 

We have to go back 98 years to the end of World War I. To put it into historic perspective, the last American World War I veteran died in February 2011 at the age of 110. 

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, a temporary cessation of hostilities between allied nations and Germany during World War I went into effect. Although the Great War didn’t officially end until the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, it was at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, that fighting ceased, never to start again. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, the first commemoration of Armistice Day. Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

In May 1938, Armistice Day became a national holiday. Then, World War II and the Korean War followed the “war to end all wars.” In 1954, the act of 1938 was amended to read “Veterans” rather than Armistice. And henceforth, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

It is well-deserved holiday, and each year, I pick up the phone and call the veterans I know and love and thank them (my father and my sister Jodi, to name two). But their sacrifice was greater than a day of celebration and a phone call. Our federal government takes that into account. Veterans can tap into various benefits that can help and support them throughout their lives.

There are plenty of financial benefits that veterans and their spouses or widows may be eligible for, and Gloucester Veterans’ Services can help steer you in the right direction to take full advantage of all the benefits. If you’d like to find out more about these benefits and learn if you are eligible, you can visit the veterans office, located at 12 Emerson Ave., or call it at 978-281-9740.

One of the great benefits of being a veteran is the Veterans Health Administration. It is America’s largest integrated health care system, and once you are deemed eligible, it can be your primary care source or you can use it to augment primary care you receive outside of the system. Gloucester has a VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic at 199 Main St. For information on services offered at this location, call 800-838-6331.

Veterans take care of their own. Many older veterans, who are eligible, chose to not use the VA health system because they believe that their use of medical care will take away from care that a needier veteran may require. This, according to Adam Curcuru, district director of veterans’ services, is categorically untrue. All veterans who are eligible will receive care through the VA. He urges everyone who is eligible to use their benefits.

And keep a watch out for the upcoming holiday meals for veterans at the American Legion. There will be dinner for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Volunteers with the American Legion will even deliver you a meal if you are unable to get out.

So please, if you are a veteran, or the widow of a veteran, call Gloucester Veterans’ Services with any question concerning your benefits. They are welcoming, kind people who want to help our veterans receive all the benefits rightly theirs. Your willing commitment to honor and protect our country is reason enough to accept all the support you rightly deserve.

Tracy Arabian is the communications officer at SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging.