Thank you veterans.
Too often I take for granted how lucky I am. Among other things, I’m lucky to have been born in this country, which gave me opportunities and freedoms that many people don’t enjoy. What I too often take for granted is only ours because of the many brave people who have served or currently serve in our military.
We can honor our veterans by appreciating our freedoms and by supporting our veterans and active military personnel.
My fabulous freelance web developer, Bart Hook, who is a former Navy man, told me about The Welcome Home Blog. Just watching a few minutes of the happy videos of returning soldiers is an emotional reminder of military family sacrifices. (See tips for helping veterans below the video.)
I wanted to do something to support our troops, so I did some research, and I thought I’d share what I found and some things I already knew. Here are ways we can express our gratitude on Veterans Day and on all days:
- A great way to say “Thank you veterans” is to show up. There are many Veterans Day events – go to one and bring your family.
- Seek out opportunities to hire veterans. Unemployment for veterans is higher than average. Yet, veterans are disciplined, hard working and loyal. I’m fortunate to have worked with several young people who joined the military. They were amazing employees. Be inspired by this enthusiastic grandfather who has found jobs for over 950 veterans.
- Because there isn’t enough work for all of the military personnel who have returned home, many of them survive on odd jobs. What do you need done around your house? Post your odd jobs on Hire Patriots and give back to those who have given so much. Plus, you’ll get someone who knows how to get a job done.
- Say, “thank you for your service” when you see people in uniform.
- Encourage your local schools to have a Veterans Day Discussion. The VA has a Veterans Day Teachers Resource Guide that could help (scroll down the page). There’s also a great program called Take a Veteran to School Day that brings Veterans into the classroom to share their experiences.
- Pay for lunch, a drink or dessert when you see a military person in a restaurant.
- Write a letter through Operation Gratitude to deployed soldiers, wounded warriors and veterans of previous conflicts. Have your kid draw a picture or write a card as well. Our veterans should know that their country loves them and appreciates their service. My dad wrote to soldiers during the Gulf War, and it meant enough to one soldier that he brought his family to our house to meet us when he returned from deployment.
Here is a response a veteran gave to receiving letters from Operation Gratitude:
“When I opened your envelope today and read your letter and the 3 others you have sent me, I was profoundly moved. Through the years since I returned home, I have had people, from time to time, thank me for my service. But this is the first time I have received letters sent from the heart by people who have no idea who I am. Only the fact that I served. With each one I read, I could feel the emotions welling up inside and when I finished the last one, I was filled to bursting with pride, love for my country, and love for my people. Please accept my thanks for your thoughtfulness and caring. I never thought letters like this could have such an effect. You have given me a gift I will carry in my heart always.
Sincerely, RM2 P.R. USCG”
- Offer a ride. Many veterans don’t have transportation to and from their medical appointments at VA Hospitals. You can volunteer as a van driver for Disabled American Veterans.
- Support our troops by supporting families who have a member deployed. The families are often forgotten. Thank them for their sacrifices. Offer to help them around the house. Babysit. Let them know you recognize their sacrifice and ask how you can help.
If you’d like to help, Operation Homefront supports families of veterans with financial and emotional needs.
Soldiers’ Angels provide support to military families through three services: Comforting the loved ones left behind when a soldier dies in battle, providing handmade gifts and virtual baby showers, and holiday adoption program to support a family’s holiday needs. Volunteer with Soldiers’ Angels.
- Volunteer or donate to a nonprofit that supports veterans. Here are some resources: USO, Fisher House, VFW, Wounded Warrior Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
- Donate miles for wounded service members and their families.
- Donate clothes through Vietnam Veterans of America or Purple Heart Pickup (Purple Heart only for NY, NJ, PA, CT, VA, MD, DE). The nonprofits receive money for all clothes they collect.
- Visit patients in a VA hospital or drop off books, movies or something special. You can find a local hospital here. There is an online volunteer signup form. If you’d like to volunteer, you can also check out the list of VA hospital service coordinators provided by Disabled American Veterans.
- If you have an airplane, you can work with Veterans Airlift Command to provide flights that allow wounded veterans to visit their families. Often wounded veterans need accommodations that they can’t get on a commercial flight.
- Surprise a veteran by raking his/her leaves, washing their car, or something else. An act of kindness is a great way to show support.
- If you have a business consider a discount or special offer for veterans.
- Provide pet foster care for deployed soldiers.
- Builders, developers and building suppliers can support Operation Finally Home, which builds houses for wounded soldiers.
- Let Veterans Day and other holidays serve as reminders but certainly not the only days we think about our veterans and say thank you veterans.
- Recognize the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Veterans Day is to recognize those who are serving or who have served and are still with us. Memorial Day is to recognize those who lost their lives in service to their country. The holidays are often confused or combined in people’s minds, which can be upsetting to veterans.
Along the lines, one common mistake is for people to send out “Happy Memorial Day” emails to their companies or post online “Happy Memorial Day” online. If any of your friends or colleagues are veterans or are tied to the military, Memorial Day is far from a happy day.
- Military families move a lot. Whether a military child is in your family or in your community, it’s important to keep in touch and make sure they know they’re remembered – this is always a good idea, and especially when parents are deployed. A great way to support our troops is to support their kids. (Thanks to Kathy who suggested this based on her experience as a mom in a military family.)
- Don’t forget the sacrifices others have made and don’t take our freedoms for granted.
Thank you veterans. Thank you former and current military personnel and your families.
In the spirit of helping veterans, here are 10 Incredible entrepreneurs serving veterans, how they got started & how you can help.