On a recent flight, as we landed and prepared to disembark, individuals began standing in the aisle and grabbing their bags as usual. In front of me was a young girl, maybe seven or eight years old, with her mother. The young girl turned back, looking toward an older gentleman who was standing in the aisle behind her. She looked up at him, wide-eyed yet wise, while her little voice chirped, “Thank you for your service.” The gentleman, who was wearing a hat that read “Vietnam Veteran”, gracefully thanked her. Proud of the little girl and her mother for teaching her such appreciation, I felt a surge of joy and a tear came to my eye. I was thankful for the glimpse of hope, that the next generations are being raised with such high regard for those who have served, and for the reminder that every day is a good day to thank a veteran – not just Veterans Day.
Unfortunately, our veterans are not always regarded as the heroes that they are. This Veteran’s Day, take some time from your day to truly thank those who have fought for our freedoms. Here are four ways that you can express your gratitude, today and every other day.
Thank a Veteran
- A simple expression of gratitude can mean the world to veterans who often feel unappreciated or forgotten. If you see someone wearing a hat, t-shirt, or uniform indicating that they are a veteran, never hesitate to offer a sincere “thank you”. These are two of the most powerful yet underused words.
- Visit a veteran’s hospital or veterans affairs department and spend some time talking to the veterans there. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but you will likely hear fantastic stories from these men and women, and might even make a new friend.
- In this digital age, there are plenty of ways to thank veterans online. From Twitter, tweet your thanks and use #HappyVeteransDay or #thankavet. You can also leave your message of thanks on Facebook on the Thank You Vets page, or tag a veteran to ensure that he or she sees the page.
Show you Care
- Deployed military members always appreciate receiving care packages with the comforts of home. If you don’t know a member who is currently serving,
you can Adopt a Soldier or send packages to Any Soldier where they are distributed first and foremost to servicemembers overseas who receive little to no mail.
- Send a card or letter – even if you don’t have much to give, a handmade card or thoughtfully worded letter of appreciation and encouragement can mean the world to an active duty service member or a veteran. Operation We Are Here offers a myriad of resources to help you send your thanks.
- Don’t forget the K-9 service members – they perform important services overseas as well. For information on sending a care package to a dog serving overseas, check out this information from Barkpost.
Make a Donation or Volunteer
- There are numerous organizations that help our military members and veterans. Charity Navigator provides a list with links to different charities to help you find a way to donate.
- Veterans in your local community need assistance. From volunteering at a hospital, where you may perform a range of duties from helping to organize activities to serving coffee or simply providing companionship, to providing transportation to veterans who need help getting to doctor’s appointments or other social outings, there are plenty of ways to help. Check out the list at DAV.org.
- Active-duty servicemembers often leave families at home while they are deployed. This puts extra strain on the husband or wife who is left to care for their family as a single parent, and assistance with small household duties can make a world of difference. Whether helping to mow lawns, assisting with minor household repairs, providing dog-walking services, or providing a meal, there are plenty of ways to help. Check out Create the Good for more information on getting started.
Support Veterans in Whatever they do
- Get out and cheer for veterans. Check out the National Veterans’ Wheelchair Games to find an event in your area, and go out and cheer for your local
- Support Veteran-owned businesses. Next time you’re looking to make a purchase or use a service, check out this national directory of Veteran-owned businesses from Buy Veteran and show your support by doing business with veterans.
- If you own a business, consider offering your goods or services to veterans and active-duty military for a free or discounted rate, even if only on Veterans Day.
However you thank a veteran, just remember that veterans come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. They may be old, young, black, white, male, female, active-duty, retired, or any other combination of features. Whoever they may be, an expression of gratitude is one of the simplest yet greatest things that we can do to support those who serve.