By Nia Simone McLeod
Veterans Day is an annual celebration of military veterans all across the United States. The holiday was formerly known as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, and later to honor World War I veterans. In June 1954, the holiday was officially renamed “Veterans Day” to honor American veterans of all wars. It’s a perfect time to personally reach out to
veterans throughout your local community. There are many things that you can do to show your gratitude to the veterans that are around you. Read on for some meaningful suggestions on how to honor the veterans in your area and beyond.
The U.S. Census reports that almost 700,000 veterans currently live in Virginia. Volunteer your time at organizations throughout the state that support this ever-growing community. No matter what your skills are, there’s surely going to be a place for you to donate your time to support a greater good. Some great places to volunteer at throughout the Commonwealth would be the Hunter Holmes VA McGuire Medical Center, the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans, and the Disabled American Veterans. If you can’t donate your time, giving monetary donations would make a big impact on the organizations that you care about as well.
- Attend an Event
Attending an event honoring veterans in your community shows that you want to give thanks. These are also great events to bring your children to. They can be taught about what veterans have done for our country and why they deserve to be acknowledged not just during Veterans Day, but all year. This year there’s a wide variety of events across the state. This includes the Armistice Day Festival happening in Richmond, a Veterans Day parade in Virginia Beach, and a luminary program in Dinwiddie. Do some research to find out the closest Veterans Day celebration in your area, and show your
support in person.
- Send a Care Package
Operation Gratitude is a non-profit that sends care packages to troops, veterans, military families, first responders, and more. They’ve delivered over 2 million care packages since 2003. Sending a package through Operation Gratitude doesn’t just send items like food, greeting cards, and magazines to those who have served our country. It also sends joy and hope. Those are gifts that can’t be measured. Currently, they’re collecting Halloween candy across the nation for our troops. They also have many locations to drop off your Halloween candy right in the state of Virginia!
- Support Veteran-Run Businesses
One of the best ways to show that you care is through the almighty dollar. There are over 2.5 million veteran-run businesses across the nation. Supporting these businesses revitalizes the veteran community and helps them make a smooth transition from being a soldier to being a citizen. Rosie’s List offers a large network of veteran-run businesses throughout the nation. In just Richmond alone, there are businesses that specialize in a variety of different industries including photography, travel, carpeting, and more. Just put in your zip code and you’ll be able to see the closest ones to you. You just might run into your new favorite store.
- Write a Letter
Using your words to express your gratitude is great. A Million Thanks sends letters, cards, prayer messages, and emails to active, reserve, and veteran members of the military. It’s a great way to spread positivity to veterans across the nation. If you know a veteran personally, be sure to reach out and send a postcard or greeting card to them. Make sure you add a “Thank You!” to your letter as well. Encourage the whole family to get involved to spread even more kindness around.
- Listen to Their Story
If you know a veteran personally, take the time out of the day to make a phone call and talk to them about their service. If they’re interested in talking about it, start off with general questions like: “Why did you join?” or “Do you remember your first days?” But, allow them to tell their story however they’d like to tell it. Give them your full attention and just listen. You may be surprised at what you’ll find out.
- Do a Random Act of Kindness
Take time out of your day to do something nice for the veterans in your community. If you see someone, tell them thank you. Pick up their coffee or meal tab. Leave behind a kind message. These things only take a couple of minutes out of your day and it makes a big impact. It’s truly the little things that matter and brighten up a person’s day.
- Take Them Out to Eat
Everyone loves a great meal! Whether it’s at a fancy restaurant or a favorite national chain, gifting a meal from their favorite place would be very much appreciated. Also, dozens of restaurants are offering discounts for veterans this Veterans Day. Check out the list here, and treat a veteran to a delicious meal at a restaurant in your area.
- Exercise Your Right to Vote
Sometimes the best way to honor the veterans around you is to not take for granted the rights that they’ve fought for. Whether you’re voting for the next governor or the next president of the United States, get out there and make your voice heard.
Educate those around you, especially your children, about the importance of Veterans Day and veterans in general. If you have veterans in your family, tell your children about their story. Take them to the museums in your area. For example, the Virginia War Memorial offers great programs for children, like their Little Soldier Saturdays. Encourage them to get involved with writing a letter, drawing a picture, or making a care package. Educating the next generation not only shows them what’s important, but it implements key values that’ll stick from now until eternity.
Take time out of your day to show the veterans in your family, your community, and across the nation that you care. Whether it’s minutes or hours, your time is surely appreciated no matter how much you have to spare. Be sure to implement one (or more!) of these activities on not just Veterans Day, but every day.