Deb McCullum spoke to a packed gymnasium Nov. 11 at Reedsburg Area High School about some of the struggles veterans face once coming home from service, and said to think of them and thank them every day.

The Sauk County Marine Corp Eagles Nest Detachment Senior Vice Commandant said disabled veterans are affected once returning home from war with 23 veterans committing suicide per day. She shared that Custom Canines Service Dog Academy in Madison gave out 47 service dogs to veterans this year.

She said her service dog, Keno, helps her cope with her own disabilities. She reminded the audience not all disabilities are seen, with some veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. McCullum said she would’ve been another statistic without Keno.

“She is my lifesaver,” McCullum, who served in the Marines for eight years, said of Keno. “She has stopped me from being number 24. Whenever you see a veteran and they have a service dog and you think they don’t have a disability think again of today, not all disabilities are visible.”

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Members of other local veterans groups, the Sauk County Eagles Nest Detachment Marine Corp League, VFW Post 1916 and American Women’s Auxiliary Post 350 and Post 1916 groups, other local veteran’s organizations as well as students and staff at Reedsburg Area High School and community members were present during the ceremony. The VFW Post 1916 hosted the ceremony.

The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute and playing of Taps by the Reedsburg Area High School band. Post Chaplain Robert Corey gave the opening and ending prayer. The Reedsburg Area High School band and choir performed Armed Forces Salute, which included songs from all branches of armed forces while local veterans stood in recognition. Reedsburg Area High School student Grace Harsch was awarded first place for the VFW Auxiliary Voices of Democracy essay contest.

Other Veterans Day ceremonies around Reedsburg were held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Sacred Heart Schools, Reedsburg Area Senior Life Center, Sauk County Health Care Center and Casa de Oaks.

Additional pictures from Reedsburg Area High School’s Veterans Day ceremony are at www.reedsburgtimespress.com

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

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