About 41.89 million Americans have fought in wars, from the American Revolution to Desert Storm. Since 9/11 and the Global War on Terror, there have been more than 3 million veterans who served in the United States military.

Altogether today, about 7 percent of the adult population in the U.S. is made up of veterans — men and women who once selflessly stepped up to serve their country. Many veterans have chosen to live right here in Hampton Roads, where all five branches of the military are represented. Some chose to remain here after leaving military service. Others moved back here.

For many veterans, the desire to serve remains long after they hang up their uniforms. They exist by the thousands in Hampton Roads, continuing to give their time, energy, passion and experience to make life better for others. These veterans can be found just about everywhere, from teaching in public schools to driving ambulances, from coaching youth sports to plowing church parking lots when it snows.

This edition of the Flagship honors 12 veterans who are examples of those who are still serving even decades after leaving the military. Take Tom Travato, who spent just two years in the Army as a young man. But those years were during World War II, and losing an arm in combat propelled him to spend the rest of his life helping others. At 96, Travato still volunteers, assuring new amputees that if he could make a life, they can, too. “We are blessed,” says U.S. Army veteran Kermit Lynch, “to bless others.”

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