One hundred years ago, on November 11th, World War I ended and a year later Armistice Day celebrated the first anniversary. Now, we celebrate Veterans Day, with parades, free meals, and a general sense of thankfulness to all those who have served our nation.
But as any veteran will tell you, support and honor are just as appreciated the other 364 days of the year. In fact, it may be appreciated more then. Many veterans are uneasy about accepting gratitude and ‘Thanks for your service’ handshakes for a whole day. Some like to celebrate with their friends; some take to the golf course for some quiet time, and others spend it with their families.
Honoring our veterans is something we can do in simple, yet thoughtful ways, all year long. Here are some of our ideas:
If you have some time and can visit a veteran in a nursing home or hospital this year, please do. Go in, listen to some wonderful stories, and show them they are still appreciated and valued. Maybe bring some cookies or a warm blanket. Offer to help them write a letter to a loved one, or go through old photos with them. Just spending time is what counts.
Support veteran families.
The transition from the military can be tough, especially if a veteran family has moved to a new place. If you know a veteran family, consider helping them out with some household tasks like cutting the grass or even babysitting so the parents can have a date night.
Join Team RWB.
Local Team Red White and Blue chapters exist to connect veterans with their local communities, through physical and social activity. They do group workouts, they volunteer, they have fun, and they build community. Yes, there are veterans there, but there are also people who have no military connection. It’s a great place to meet people and support the veteran community.
Just as many veterans volunteered to protect our nation and us, you can spend some time volunteering for them. Whether on a local or national level, in a soup kitchen or at a nursing home, you can give back to the community in a way that touches veterans and their families.
Send them gifts.
There are plenty of troops serving overseas this holiday season that could use some treats. Consider contacting the local USO or installation and organize a care-package packing party. Or send a few of them from Troopster, they even have the option of sending some to troops who have requested a care package.
Invite a veteran to share.
If your place of work or school has a Veterans Day celebration (if they don’t see the next idea), invite a veteran or two to come and share their stories with your group. It’s an excellent reminder for everyone and a wonderful way to honor their service.
Start a Veterans Day event.
Gather a group of people and start a celebration. This can be done on any scale, small or large. Ask your local coffee shop if you can host a get together there, or maybe your church or even at your workplace.
Make a conscious effort to support veteran-owned businesses and services in your community. When you’re looking for holiday gift ideas or looking for a caterer, consider the options within the military community. Use the hashtag #shopmilitary to search for businesses on social media or visit the online directory.
Send a card or a small gift.
Chances are you know a handful of veterans in your life. Mail them a card or a gift card for coffee this year. Just a quick note of thanks and a reminder that you value them and appreciate your service. Throughout the year, try to gather more names to send cards to next year.
Donate to a veteran non-profit.
There are over 40,000 organizations that help and support veterans, and they could all benefit from your donations. But there are a few that are particularly helpful to veterans and their families. Consider a donation in honor of your special veteran to one of these organizations.
How are you supporting and honoring veterans this month? Let us know in the comments.