The inaugural Carrier Classic

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There are few things as elegant as the arc of a perfect three point shot making its way from the player’s hand to the bottom of the basket. There are few things more memorable than following that arc sitting on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson with the skyline of downtown San Diego as a backdrop and the commander-in-chief in the stands with you. I was fortunate enough to join other veterans, a few thousand active-duty military, a few hundred Michigan State and North Carolina fans, and the President and First Lady to watch several of those long arcs, not all of them quite perfect, at the inaugural Carrier Classic.

It was an opportunity to celebrate the service of our young men and women on active duty, remember those who served before, and watch Big Ten and ACC basketball teams go at it in a spectacular setting. From the ride from the hangar deck to the flight deck on an aircraft elevator (ever taken an elevator ride with 100 or so other people?) to the view of Air Force One on approach to San Diego International Airport, to the F/A 18 flyover and the arrival and brief address by the President before tipoff, it was a Veterans Day I won’t forget.

But it’s not all fun and games. Working with veterans and military families has allowed me to talk to a number of post--9/11 veterans, some of whom have successfully returned to civilian life, some who are well on their way, and some who are still struggling to get there. The Veterans Gold Card, My Next Move for Veterans, Veterans Jobs Bank, and the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits that President Obama has championed provide more tools to move forward. It’s up to the rest of us to help our returning veterans use them.