Estonia honors its nearly 3,000 veterans, celebrates its fourth Veterans Day (15)
On April 23, Estonia is celebrating Veterans Day for the fourth time, a holiday which has been an official flag day since 2014 and is once again the culmination of a nationwide Veterans Week. Defence Forces are calling on Estonians to fly the nation's flag in honor of its veterans today.
Veterans Day is dedicated to the recognition of those men and women who have, far from home, helped strengthen Estonia’s security and international credibility, as well as their families and loved ones, read a notice from the the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces.
Veterans have been honored, celebrated, and remembered at dedicated events across the country, beginning with charity runs in Tartu and Tallinn on April 16 and 17, and including a special national defense lesson for high school students held at a Rahva Raamat bookstore in Tallinn, and a memorial service for fallen servicemen by the memorial in Paldiski brought from Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.
Events continue today, on Veterans Day, including a church service at St. George’s Lutheran Church in Tori held in remembrance of all soldiers who have fought for Estonia, special events at the Estonian War Museum in Viimsi, and charity rock concert “Veterans’ Rock,” to be held in Tallinn’s Freedom Square and headlined by rock bands Smilers and No Big Silence, with a special performance by a conscripts’ band of the Orchestra of the Defence Forces.
The annual charity campaign “Let us salute!” (“Anname au!”), which was organized for the first time in 2014, kicked off on April 7 this year, when Blue Hepatica (Sinilill) flower lapel pins and wristbands were made available for purchase across the country, the proceeds of which help the Estonian Association of Wounded Warriors support both wounded veterans and other people of Estonia.
Together with the “Let us salute!” wristbands, the Blue Hepatica pins, which are handmade from local felt by over 100 people with special needs across the country and distributed by the Hea Hoog Foundation, will be available through May 1 in Selver supermarkets, Rahva Raamat bookstores, T-pilet ticket offices in Tallinn and Tartu, as well as in Olerex gas stations, R-Kiosks, shops in Tallinn Airport and on all Nordica flights.
The campaign also organized Blue Hepatica Charity Runs in Tartu and Tallinn on April 16 and 17, which drew a total of over 500 participants to the two events.
As of yesterday, the 2016 charity campaign, carried out with the help of the national Women’s Voluntary Defence Organization (Naiskodukaitse), had raised over 40,000€ for the Estonian Association of Wounded Warriors, which helps support the rehabilitation, sport and further education of servicemen wounded in combat as well as their family members.
Funds raised by last year’s campaign paid for the purchase of a robotic rehabilitation system for the Haapsalu Neurological Rehabilitation Centre, among other projects; funds from the year before paid for the purchase of the same for East-Tallinn Central Hospital.
This year, the association plans to pay for the purchase of a muscle strength training device for the Rehabilitation and Well-Being Centre of Pärnu Hopital, as well as support various other rehabilitation- and mental heatlh-related projects for the benefit of society as a whole.
3,000 Estonian veterans
Veterans of Estonia are citizens who have participated in the military defense of the country or international military operations in the Estonian Defence Forces, or have permanently lost the ability to work while in the line of duty, either while fulfilling active duty assignments or on active training in the Estonian Defence League.
There are currently approximately 2,800 veterans in Estonia, approximately 70 of whom are severely injured, who have participated in international military and peacekeeping operations in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Macedonia, Israel, Syria, iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Mali, and the Central African Republic, as well as on the Gulf of Aden and the Mediterranean Sea.