They say America is the land of the free because of the brave. On Veterans Day, November 11, we have a chance to honor and thank those brave and selfless heroes.
They put their lives on the line every single day for us. But that wasn’t their only sacrifice. They gave up time with their family. They missed out on important milestones for their kids. They skipped socializing with friends. They gave up the advantages of a 9-to-5 job and career, competitive salaries, and advancement. They did it all to protect us and keep America safe.
But how exactly do you thank a veteran for everything they have sacrificed? What do you say and what can you do? Here are some ideas.
1. Say ‘Thank You’.
Words may not express the extent of your gratitude. However, saying “thank you for your service” is a good start. Tell veterans that you are proud to know them and that you think of them as heroes. You can also say thanks with gifts like a patriotic flower arrangement, a favorite baked item in a care package, handmade cards and letters of gratitude. Take to social media and tag every veteran you know, thanking them for their service. Display a banner on your home or lawn with messages of thanks for everyone to see.
2. Attend a veteran’s event.
Unlike Memorial Day, which is a solemn holiday, Veterans Day is a happy occasion. On Memorial Day, we mourn those who gave their lives in service to our country. On Veterans Day, we come together to pay tribute to those who fought for freedom. Many small towns host Veterans Day ceremonies. It’s a wonderful way to support and connect with local veterans. Attend and thank them in person. If you’d like, you can bring cards or flowers, too.
3. Visit a VA hospital or nursing home.
The Veterans Health Association oversees hospitals and nursing homes for veterans in need of care. Visiting a veteran and sharing conversation is another great way to thank them for their service. Call ahead to find out the visiting policy for the facility. Then, when you’re there, ask a veteran to share stories.
4. Treat a veteran.
Show your gratitude by buying a local veteran a cup of coffee or a meal. Invite him or her to your home for a Veterans Day barbecue. It’s the perfect way to celebrate. If you’re both up for it, take a hike at a national park; it’s free to explore on Veterans Day. Share these other veterans’ discounts and freebies.
5. Make a donation.
Donate to a veterans’ organization in the name of a veteran you know. Look for a nonprofit that supports veterans or donate to your local Veterans of Foreign (VFW). Another way to support is to buy a poppy from a veteran. Poppies are the official memorial flower of the VFW and you will see veterans out and about around Veterans Day giving them in exchange for donations. Did you know you could also donate your frequent flyer miles? The Hero Miles program helps families be close to a loved one who is injured or ill. These are all easy ways to donate to make a difference.
6. Volunteer your time.
Donating your time can be equally as impactful as donating money. Simply visiting and spending time with veterans is invaluable. However, you could help by driving a veteran to a doctor’s appointment. You could start a corporate volunteer effort at your company. If you are a lawyer, you can donate pro bono hours to help with veterans’ legal issues. The website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs outlines many opportunities for everyone from professionals to students. You also can contact your local veterans’ group or hospital to see how you can help.
7. Hire a veteran. Support a veteran-owned business.
When veterans retire from the military, they enter the workforce. They may have the skills and knowledge but not the traditional certifications or degrees. Because their resumes may not exactly match the job description, they sometimes face hiring challenges. Businesses can help by hiring veterans. If you’re not in a position to hire, you still can support a veteran-owned business. In these ways, we can show our gratitude for those who have served and protected our great nation.
Thank you to all veterans for your service.
Happy Veterans Day.
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