We should be honoring those who served throughout the entire year, but with Veteran’s Day around the corner, it’s a good time to acknowledge their duty and sacrifice for our country.
A Simple Thank You
One of the most considerate ways to honor a service person is to simply say, “Thank you for your service.” For those who have put their life on the line for our freedoms, it is much appreciated. If it’s someone you know, or one you see out in military clothing, a salute, and a kind word of thank you can really go a long way.
Also, teach your children to respect those in uniform as well. They can also thank them!
If you’d like to go a step further, you can send a letter, whether by virtual means or postal. There are many organizations that work to gather such letters if you don’t know someone you can personally send one to. One such organization is Operation Gratitude, through them you can register to write letters to troops that are deployed. Many service people say that the thank you notes they receive in care packages are their favorite part! On the subject of care packages…
Ways to Give Back
There are wonderful charities and volunteers that work towards sending joy to those in the service. As previously mentioned, Operation Gratitude provides an opportunity to connect to service men and women and send thank you cards. You can also work with them to knit or crochet hats or scarves.
You can contact a volunteer at a local base or a foundation like Blue Star Families to see what you can send in a care package, what some restrictions are, and some needed items. Some items to include in a care package include snacks, personal care items (razors, hand sanitizers, sunscreen, etc.) and activities- such as card games, art supplies or stationary.
You can also volunteer your money, or your time - to learn more about volunteer opportunities, and what you can do to help, contact your local Department of Veteran’s Affairs office (VA) for more ideas. The Boston VA office can be reached at (617) 303-5675.
Ask and Listen
Ask your favorite veteran about their time in the military and really give them your full attention. By listening, you show you actively care, and also gain insight to a way of life and experiences you may not have an understanding of if you are a civilian. Some things to be mindful of when asking them about their service include; not asking about their injuries, time in battle zones, and making sure they are OK in answering your questions. It may mean a lot to older veterans to reminisce about the good times in the service, as they may not have much of a chance to talk about it these days.
If you don’t know anyone to ask, you could consider volunteering your time in an Old Soldiers Home, where you can ‘adopt-a-veteran’ and spend one on one time. The facility in Chelsea also offers other volunteer information. If you are interested, contact Larry Haile, the volunteer coordinator, at (617) 336-9532.
You are also able to listen and reflect on their stories, through videos and podcasts from such sites like StoryCorps. There is also a wonderful historical project called, Veteran’s History Project of the American Folklore Collection, that collects the experiences of American War Veterans and archives them, so that their story is preserved forever.
Recognize Military Families
Not only do our brave soldiers sacrifice a lot to keep us safe, but their families do too. Consider bringing the military family in your neighborhood a home cooked meal, not only is it a kind gesture of goodwill, it also shows your appreciation for their sacrifice.
Also, through Soldiers’ Angels you can adopt a military family for the holidays, helping get their children gifts, or their families a holiday meal through donations and gift cards.
Honor Those Lives Which are Lost
Visit the gravesite of veterans who are no longer with us, leave them flowers, or just spend time thinking good thoughts and prayers. Take the opportunity to clean up any dirt and debris and you can also proudly leave an American Flag as a sign of respect. Make a donation in a loved ones memory to a veterans organization.
It’s the simple, basic gestures that really mean a lot to our brave service women and men. A simple thanks, a brief salute from a child, buying a coffee for the woman in fatigues behind you in line, it all is appreciated. Take the time to thank the veterans in your life, ones back at home, and those who are no longer with us.