Because “Thank You” just isn’t enough.
Every year on November 11, Americans come together on Veterans Day to celebrate and honor our military members—living or dead—who have dedicated their lives to serving our country.
Veterans often return home from war or peacetime yet to face their most difficult battles. There are millions of simple ways to help veterans and show your appreciation for their sacrifice. Because the number 11 is so important to the holiday, here are 11 ways you can show your support for the more than 23 million American veterans:
1. Send a care package or a letter
Channel your best Noah from The Notebook and write 365 letters (okay, a few will suffice) to the military community. You can also create an awesome military-themed care package if you’re feeling crafty one day. The thought, time and effort that goes into both of these things will go a long, long way.
2. Foster a veteran's pet
So everyone knows you’re either #TeamCatLover or #TeamDogPerson, so why not express that love by taking care of a veteran’s pet? You can foster a veteran’s pet or donate money to help veterans care for their furry loved ones through Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet.
3. Pick up their tab
See a man or woman in uniform dining at a restaurant? Tell a waiter that you want to pay for their meal. Split the cost with your friends and it will be even more of an affordable, yet extremely thoughtful, act of appreciation.
4. Share their stories
Know a veteran with an interesting story? Share it with Veteran’s History Project so that future generations can hear straight from veterans to better depict the realities of war.
5. Donate your business clothes
Still holding on to the suit or blouse your mom made you buy a few years back? Give your closet some extra space and donate your business attire to help a transitioning service member look their best at work. You can even host a suite drive through Save A Suit if you want to get your community involved.
6. Keep veterans off the streets
Unfortunately, it’s still a reality that many of our veterans live on the streets or are at risk of becoming homeless. Pick up the phone and call 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838, to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week with help at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
7. Run with (or cheer for) a veteran
Get active with military members! You can participate in inclusive sporting events or teach a class on fitness that everyone can do. Even if you “don’t do sports,” you can still cheer on our veterans to show your support.
8. Help veterans stay in touch
You know those videos you’ve seen of families’ reactions to when their loved ones come home from serving? Give those families a smaller dose of that feeling by creating blank cards to send to military members so that they can write home to say "Hi." You can do this through Operation Write Home.
9. Nominate a family to win a decorated home
With the start of the holiday season, nominate a veteran and their family to have their home “pimped out” (yeah, I said it) by Christmas Décor. Being home for the holidays will be even better with a giant reindeer blowup in their lawns.
10. Deliver a meal to veterans
Host a potluck at your local community center and invite all veterans to enjoy a night off from cooking. You can also use Meal Train to send food to someone you think would appreciate it.
11. Say "Thank You"
It may be simple, but it will make an impact. There are so many veterans who don’t hear the words “thank you” often, so the next time you see a man or woman in uniform, show your appreciation.
Every veteran has made an enormous sacrifice for their love of the country. As we celebrate our veterans on November 11, remember the infinite things you can do to show your appreciation.