Veteran’s Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the bravery and sacrifice of its veterans. On Nov. 11, the entire nation can honor the men and women of this country’s armed services.

One of these veterans is Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

As of November 2008, Lt. Gov. Brown is the highest-ranking elected official in the nation to have served a tour of duty in Iraq, as part of his 25 years in the United States Army. He’s currently a colonel in the United States Army Reserve.

Brown also served two terms in the Maryland House of Delegates, representing Prince George’s County.

Q: Lt. Governor Brown, tell me a little bit of your history while active in the Army.
A: I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1984, graduated first in my flight class. I served five years of active duty as a helicopter pilot with the 4th Combat Aviation. Once I completed my active duty I served as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the United States Army Reserve. I am currently a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and command the 153rd Legal Support Organization, which is based in Pennsylvania.

After serving five years active duty, I returned to the United States to attend law school in the fall of 1989. I attended Harvard Law School at the same time President Barack Obama and actor/activist Hill Harper were attending.

Q: What is the impact of deployment on families and communities?
A: It’s immeasurable. It takes a significant toll on the soldier and their loved ones, specifically children and spouses. It has a tremendous impact on families, and maybe more on the families than the soldier. We sometimes lose sight of the impact of service on the family. There is no other job that can call you at three in the morning and you have to report to the center in an hour. At the same time families can move to state to state and/or country to country. That kind of impact has a tremendous toll on the family, especially when dealing with the education of children.

Q: How have the services for veterans evolved since the Korean Conflict?
A: Over the years with an aging veteran population, the country has had to provide health services and long-term care services for the Vietnam War veterans. The greatest challenge for U.S. Veteran Affairs, particularly in the state of Maryland, is having medical and mental health centers in areas other than within rural communities. Veterans have to drive a number of miles to get the services they need so the challenge is meeting the health needs of rural veteran communities.

Q: What are some of the concrete ways returning veterans positively impact the community where they live?
A: Veterans are grounded people who have tremendous patriotism and family values. They understand the importance of community. They are reliable and have a strong work ethic, they’re clean and a good labor resource. They tend to be very active in their communities and to volunteer with various organizations. However, there are a number of veterans who are homeless, unemployed and/or going through post traumatic stress disorder. This is what I was saying before about the unique impact on the home and families – many need that special attention and care we owe to the men and women that volunteered to serve our country.

Q: What things can the public do to better appreciate its veterans?
A: The best thing to do is thank a veteran. The minute you hear that someone has served in the military, thank them for service to our country and ask them how they are doing. Be ready to listen.

As a community we should support them and help them by addressing more of their needs. What we do in the O’Malley/Brown administration is provide opportunities for veteran families by having preferences in hiring, business entrepreneur opportunities, providing scholarships, no interest loan programs and set asides in state government contracts for veterans.

Q: What is the significance of Veteran’s Day to you?
A: Veteran’s Day is one day out of 365 days in a year that we should be commemorating the services and sacrifices of those who gave their lives to protect this country. If … salute the men and women who have done what everybody among us is not able to do, this day becomes a joyous celebration.