Veterans Day. A day that pays tribute to the brave men and women of the United States armed forces who risk their lives daily to protect our freedom.
My husband is a veteran. He served in the military for 14 ½ years before retiring in January of 2018. During that time, he served overseas in two deployments. He is, without a doubt, the hero of our family and the bravest man I know.
He always says that he didn’t do what he did for the free meals, the store discounts, or the gratitude, but that doesn’t mean those things, and others, aren’t appreciated.
Honoring our veterans can seem hard without knowledge of how we can show our gratitude. Even the smallest of gestures can mean more than we may realize.
Here are some ways to honor veterans and military families:
1. Soldiers’ Angels
This is a nonprofit organization that educates us on how we can give to our veterans as well as provides volunteer opportunities for those interested. From ways to spread holiday joy to sending a simple yet meaningful care package, Soldiers’ Angels is there to help.
This year our school is participating in the Treats for Troops program. This program collects donated Halloween candy and ships it to deployed service members around the world. It also distributes it to veterans in VA hospitals across the country.
2. Adopt a US Soldier
Many soldiers have a support system surrounding them, but many do not. Adopt a US Soldier is another nonprofit organization that “seeks volunteers to help show the brave men and women fighting for our freedom that their sacrifices will not go unnoticed.”
3. Become a Pen pal
This ties in with the Adopt a US Soldier organization. During my husband’s second deployment, he said he was pen pals with a classroom at a school who “adopted” him and he truly enjoyed receiving their letters and responding back to them. You can sign up to sponsor a soldier through the Adopt a US Soldier organization.
Soldiers’ Angels also has information on how you can become a pen pal with a soldier currently serving overseas. Many deployed military service members receive little or no mail from home. Soldiers’ Angels wants to ensure that no soldier goes unloved and every letter you send shows a deployed service member that people back home appreciate them. Join the letter writing team today!
4. Military Hero of the Game
As I mentioned, my husband has never been one to expect, or even want, the recognition that comes along with being a veteran. However, last year while we were at an Iowa football game we watched as a local veteran was recognized during the game as the Military Hero of the Game. My husband made a comment about how cool he thought that would be.
Even as a military wife, finding the right way to say, “Thank you for your service,” can be hard. So, I knew what I needed to do. That night, I nominated him through the University of Iowa’s website and he was selected. At the Iowa vs. Purdue game, he was taken onto the field as the Military Hero of the Game in front of a sold out crowd. He received a standing ovation for his service. It was incredible.
If there is a special veteran in your life, nominate them here. I know they do recognition at both Iowa basketball and football games.
5. Care Packages
Receiving a care package while deployed can turn a soldier’s skies from gray to blue! Organizations like Operation Gratitude can help you do just that.
We sent many care packages to my husband while he was deployed overseas. These were some of the things that we included:
- beef jerky
- word puzzle games
- homemade treats
- handheld electronic games
Most of the organizations listed have a variety of ways you can show your support for veterans and those currently serving. By visiting their websites, you can find out more and choose the way to say thank you that would be perfect for you and your family.
Veteran’s Day is always November 11th and it’s wonderful that there is a day specifically dedicated to those who have put their lives on the line for our country. To those who sacrifice everything.
But remember – we don’t have to wait for Veteran’s Day to show them appreciation.
Thank a Veteran today.
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