Service and sacrifice — a debt owed by all Americans to fellow Americans who have served us at great cost. Who are these brave, caring Americans who live among us? In this special reporting, you’ll meet people like the 100-year-old veteran who fought for us at Anzio in World War II, first responders not afraid to confront what could hurt us and the special school teacher who cares so much about teaching our children that she spends her own time and money on that cause. There’s the missionary who carries healing medicine and consoling words to far off places, the doctor who puts her calling above her bank account, the Vietnam veteran who — after all these years — is still helping buddies cope with the trauma of that terrible war. What makes some of our neighbors so willing and ready for service and sacrifice? They come from every walk of life. The common thread in their stories? They are American stories: Stories of service and sacrifice.

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Stories

The number of veterans living with a service-connected disability is around 3.8 million across the country. For many of those men and women, their life plan of military service is no more. So what comes next? That was what Chase Matthews faced.

July 29, 1967. The aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was engaged in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin off of the Vietnam coast. A massive fire broke out when jet fuel spilled across the deck, igniting and triggering a chain reaction of explosions that killed 134 sailors and injured 161 more.