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Five Ways to Honor the Service Men and Women in your Life

November 1, 2018

On November 11 we will observe Veteran’s Day – a day to celebrate and honor every soldier – past, present, living, or deceased – for his or her service in the military. As citizens of the United States who are granted the freedoms that so many brave men and women fight to preserve and protect, we should honor their service and express our gratitude for their sacrifice.

Photo credit: Elliot Burlingham/123RF.com

Whether you know someone who is actively serving; who has served in the past; or you just want to honor the brave men and women servicemembers of our armed forces; here are five meaningful ways you can honor a soldier, past or present, during the month of November – or any day of the year!

  • Say Thank You: The most simple and direct way to show your appreciation is to say, “Thank you for your service.” Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a servicemember you meet at a parade or in the mall, a sincere “thank you” is one way to recognize and honor their service. You can also write a thank you letter to a veteran or current member of the service and A Million Thanks will send it along to our troops. Over nine million letters have been sent so far! You can also send a care package to active military through Operation Gratitude or the Palmisano Care Package Project.
  • Give Back: There are many ways you can volunteer your time or make a donation to support veterans and members of the military. You can volunteer at our nation’s VA hospitals by driving veterans to appointments or providing other specialized help; you can donate your car; give frequent flier miles; or donate your old cell phone to benefit soldiers and veterans. Can’t attend that play or ballet? You can even donate tickets to fun events that will be delivered to a veteran through Vet Tix to enrich the lives of military families. Plus, you may be able to receive tax deductions for your donations.
  • Listen to their stories: Many veterans feel that it’s important to listen to their experiences in the military. According to Task & Purpose , Marissa Cruz, U.S. Navy reservist, said, “Talk to me. Ask me what my job entails, what I enjoy about the military or why I chose to serve. Not because I like talking about myself, but because it’s a more meaningful way to engage if you have a better understanding of what you’re actually offering thanks for.” The History Channel sponsors the Take a Veteran to School Day program to connect veterans with young people in order to hear stories about their service and learn more about Veterans Day. The Library of Congress is collecting the stories of veterans through the Veterans History Project – you can listen to a story or encourage someone you know to record his or her story.
  • Be informed and Vote! One of the best ways to honor servicemembers is to stay informed on the issues important to them and use your vote to support those issues. With midterm elections this month, exercising your right to vote is one of the most important rights service members have fought to protect. “How should people thank me for my service? Vote!” said Alexander McCoy, U.S. Marine Corps veteran on Task & Purpose .
  • Sponsor a Service Dog for Vets: The NEADS Service Dogs for Veterans Programs match highly skilled service dogs with United States veterans from any conflict who have a permanent physical disability, are deaf or who have profound hearing loss, or have MS or other progressive conditions. These disabilities do not need to be combat related. The Trauma Assistance Dog program (TAD) is designed for veterans with diagnosed combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Service Dogs are provided to qualifying veterans at no cost. Since 2006, NEADS has placed more than 100 dogs with veterans at no cost to the veterans. Puppies Behind Barsis another program in which prisoners train companion dogs for veterans with PTSD. Donors can sponsor a dog and receive updates on the dog’s training and life with its veteran.

As the old adage says, actions speak louder than words. “The most meaningful ways people can thank a veteran is through action. Volunteer with a veteran-related organization or welcome a veteran friend to join for a workout or group activity. Even visiting or researching community war memorials or monuments shows the potential for a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by veterans. People thanking veterans genuinely through action is a far more meaningful gesture of gratitude than a couple of words,” Jennifer Dolsen, U.S. Army veteran, said on Task & Purpose .

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