Did you know that there are roughly 20 million American veterans in this country? Of this number, there are 6.4 million Vietnam War veterans over the age of 70. Many are not in such good condition, both mentally as well as physically. Sadly, there are many veterans who are homeless, in which their PTSD and other debilitating conditions have made life after their service quite challenging. 

With the latter in mind, Veterans Day is a federal holiday to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifice that many veterans have made for our country. It is a time for us, as Americans, to say, “We deeply thank you for your service.”

While it is important to appreciate and celebrate veterans all year round, here are a few ideas as to how you can thank a veteran on Veterans Day..

Give a Veteran a Meal – This can work in a variety of ways. You can take a veteran out to dinner, or you can give them a gift card to a restaurant that they may want to eat at down the road at their convenience.

Help Out Homeless Vets – Many people are concerned with homeless veterans who live on the streets. Contact your local VA office for more information on how you can help this cause directly.

Alternatively, you can contact local soup kitchens and other community locations that cater to the homeless population. They may know of people who come to the shelter often who are veterans. If this is the case, volunteer to help out on a day you know they’ll be there. You can even create a special care package for them and have them honored at a group meal. Anyone who is homeless is bound to suffer from poor self-esteem or feel discouraged at times, so this can help them feel like a valued member of society.

Volunteer at a Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Hospital – There are VA hospitals dotted all over the country, and many who need volunteers to help out the vets who receive regular treatment there. Make a plan to volunteer at a local VA hospital on or around Veterans Day. If you have a special talent, such as singing or playing an instrument, consider giving a little concert. Even if you’re off-key, they’ll absolutely love you for it! 

Write to a Veteran – If you know a veteran, or a few of them, in your community, send them a postcard or email letting them know how much you appreciate them and their service. If you have a child, you may wish to print out a themed coloring book drawing and have your child color a picture for them.

If you don’t know any veterans, send a postcard or two to your local military installation. These small acts of kindness may seem like no big deal, but they are huge to many people, especially for those who don’t have family members or friends to lean on.

Attend a Veterans Day Parade – Most communities have some type of parade or event commemorating veterans. Often, this is in the form of a town event or a town parade. Showing up to the event and watching the parade, or better yet, participating in it, is a great way to show that you care about the veterans in your community.

Disabled Veterans – If know a Veteran who has been disabled during their service or has become disabled since, consider visiting them in their home or facility. Disabled American Veterans is one of the easiest ways to volunteer and/or donate. 

Send a Care Package to an Active Service Person – While a veteran is technically someone who has already served in the military, active military members deserve recognition on Veterans Day as well. Many of them are far away from family and friends and are feeling the strain of it. It can be difficult to be away from everyone who is familiar, especially on Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving – How about inviting a service member or veteran for Thanksgiving or the Holidays? The easiest way to do this is to go to the Military One Source website, call their 24/7 number, 800-342-9647, and let the representative know what you would like to do. They will direct you to the VA facility or organization nearest to your location so that you can offer your support, whatever it may be. 

Wishing all of you a meaningful and thoughtful Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Holiday ahead. 

Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc.

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