True meaning behind honoring our military

by Oriana Biela-Lieu, Registered Dental Hygienist

Oriana Cousin JonathanFor many, Memorial Day is about barbecues and time with friends and family. Those are good things, but they’re not actually what Memorial Day is intended to be about. It is a federal holiday for remembering those who died serving in the U.S. armed forces. (Veterans Day in November celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.) The fallen heroes being honored on Memorial Day – as well as those living heroes who are part of our community every day – do not often get the recognition they deserve.

This is fresh in my mind, because I had the lucky opportunity to spend some time with family on Memorial Day: My grandfather, my uncle and two of my cousins served in the U.S. Marine Corps. One of them served in the U.S. Marines and Navy and is now in college; my other cousin, Jonathan, served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan (pictured with me, left). If you live somewhere with a large military base, such as San Diego, life can be pretty good if you are a retired or active part of the military because there are a lot of discounts, rewards and other benefits that celebrate the soldier. However, in the North Bay and in other parts of the U.S., that’s not always the case.

At Blue Apple Dental Group, we do our part to celebrate veterans with a new “thank you” movement that began last year called Freedom Day USA. On this national day – scheduled for September 11 this year – businesses offer something free in the forms of goods and/or services as a way to thank U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families.

Freedom Day Information Event 2014 Lieu FlierDr. Lieu is serving this year as the Freedom Day USA City Coordinator for Rohnert Park. As part of that commitment, he and I have been out actively talking to other businesses and people in our community to gather support for veterans by signing them up to be part of Freedom Day and let our military know that we appreciate everything they’ve done for us.

Personally, I think it’s particularly important that our younger veterans get more support and recognition because they have a high suicide rate. Soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and from the Middle East are having a hard time readjusting to life here and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real problem and concern for them and for their families; sometimes to the point where they feel they have no way out except to take their own lives. Suicide is a serious concern, and it’s the families who suffer most long after the act is committed.

To support Freedom Day USA, I would ask that you share this post with a veteran or a friend or a family member who has served in the military. On September 11, 2014, we will be offering free dental services to veterans and their families. If you check the national listing at, you can also see what other services are being offered to veterans on this special day … Everything from free closing costs on a mortgage to vacuum repair.

On the Blue Apple Dental Group Facebook page or on the official Freedom Day website at, you can view a heartwarming video about veterans, as well as hear some heartwarming stories that really drive home why this is such a special day.