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10 From GEM: 10 Ways To Honor America’s Veterans

Creative Commons/Keturah Stickann

Creative Commons/Keturah Stickann

10 From GEM:
10 Ways To Honor America’s Veterans

Veterans Day shouldn’t be seen as just another day off from work or a day to shop the best sales. It’s a day to honor all people who have served in the military. The members of our military have placed themselves in danger—some making the ultimate sacrifice. Deployed soldiers miss birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and funerals—events that most of us take for granted. Saying thank you and getting involved with veterans is a small but significant way to express gratitude for those who have done what many of us would not do. Read on for 10 ways you can say thank you and honor our country’s heroes.

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1. SAY “THANK YOU” 

Creative Commons/stephanie.giles

Creative Commons/stephanie.giles

It’s really just as simple as that. On Veterans Day—or any day for that matter—when you see a veteran or active duty service member, say, “Thank you for your service.” Your acknowledgement will be appreciated.

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2. SEND YOUR THANKS ONLINE 

Creative Commons/istolethetv

Creative Commons/istolethetv

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is trying to gather one million thank yous for veterans. You can go to My Veterans Day and submit a story, photo, or video giving thanks to veterans. You can also spread the word through Facebook or Twitter.

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3. LISTEN

Creative Commons/hindsfeet

Creative Commons/hindsfeet

Many veterans, especially those who were involved in war, are not forthcoming about discussing their experiences. If you know or meet one who is willing to give you even a snippet of his or her life in the armed services, one of the best things you can do is open your ears. Don’t offer your opinions unless asked. Don’t talk about your politics. Don’t tell him about your neighbor down the street who has PTSD because of his job. Our veterans have had experiences that most of us cannot fathom. If a veteran chooses to share with you, consider it an honor and listen well.

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4. TAKE A VETERAN TO SCHOOL

Creative Commons/piratejoe

Creative Commons/piratejoe

The History Channel developed Take a Veteran to School Day to bring together veterans and students. “Schools and communities invite veterans of all backgrounds to share their stories and receive thanks for their service. Schools typically organize these programs on or around Veterans Day, but you can plan an event all year round to honor veterans and hear their stories of service.” If you’re a teacher or school administrator, why not participate in this worthy program? They have created K-12 curriculum guides and it’s a great way to connect young people with this aspect of American life. Visit their page to find out more information.

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5. THANK VETERANS AT WORK

Creative Commons/Cross Trips

Creative Commons/Cross Trips

Organize some sort of gathering to honor veterans at your job. You could do an informal breakfast or a formal lunch and have some people say a few words of thanks for the veterans’ service. If that isn’t possible, you could send a personalized letter or card signed by your colleagues to each veteran. This can be done any time of year.

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6. GIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT

Creative Commons/North Carolina National Guard

Creative Commons/North Carolina National Guard

If you can, consider giving a monetary donation to an organization like the American Red Cross. They offer support specifically to members of the military, veterans, and their families. The Red Cross has programs that support wounded warriors and military hospitals, provide support to military families, and offer job training, among many other things. Find our how you can donate by visiting Red Cross.

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7. VOLUNTEER AT A USO CHAPTER 

Creative Commons/North Dakota National Guard

Creative Commons/North Dakota National Guard

The United Service Organization does many great things to support our military. You can be part of it by serving as a volunteer. Volunteers do things such as help out at special events, welcome troops at homecoming, or provide a listening ear. Visit the USO website to locate a center and find out how you can volunteer.

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8. PROVIDE A SERVICE

Creative Commons/super-structure

Creative Commons/super-structure

If you know a veteran, you can mow the lawn, rake leaves, or shovel snow to show your appreciation. Discretely pay for a service member’s meal at a restaurant. Drive a veteran to a doctor’s appointment. Surprise a military family with a home-cooked meal. Donate toys and stuffed animals to the children of deployed soldiers. If you own a business, offer discounts to active duty service members and veterans.

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9. GET EDUCATED

Creative Commons/U.S. Army Materiel Command

Creative Commons/U.S. Army Materiel Command

Watch movies and documentaries about war and its aftermath. It could help to deepen respect for the realities veterans face. You may have a visceral reaction, but that deep feeling is nothing compared to what our soldiers have seen firsthand. There are plenty of excellent books and articles about veterans you can read. Check out the work of James Dao, who covers military and veterans affairs for the national desk of The New York Times. His work takes a look at many facets of military life. In addition, visit museums and war memorials.

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10. GET TO KNOW A VETERAN

Creative Commons/annburlingham

Creative Commons/annburlingham

Perhaps you have a veteran in your family. Maybe a coworker has served. It doesn’t matter how you know a veteran, it’s worth your time to build a relationship with her. You can take meaningful action that’s specialized just for her. If she could use a night out, offer to babysit. If she mentions that she loves Target, get her a gift card. Give her opportunities to share her experiences about anything and remember to be caring and compassionate. There are many things you can do to offer personal support to a veteran in your life.

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What do you do to honor veterans? Share your thoughts below.

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Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a writer, a work at home mother, and a new business owner. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org, email her at alexistrasswalker@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.

 

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