Five Ways to Thank a Veteran this Veterans Day

Veterans Day is coming up in a few short weeks. Days like this are so special to me for obvious, and not so obvious reasons. As a military family any day that I can especially honor those that serve is important. Most of the time its emotional for me, thinking about my husband and what he sacrifices, my friends and their families, and those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. And despite the continuing argument of Veterans Day vs. Memorial Day, any day that people can stop and be reminded is a good thing in my book. That’s why I am so excited to be a part of the Great Clips
Veterans Day program. With Veterans Day quickly approaching I wanted to touch on some of the ways you can say “Thank You!”

1. Volunteer – This is perhaps my favorite way to thank a Veteran any day of the week. Finding a group that helps military families, whether you are one or not, is one of the most amazing ways to thank a Veteran any time of the year. Have you ever heard of Honor Flight? It’s an amazing program that takes WWII and Korean War Veterans to see their memorial in the DC area. If you live in DC you can come and be a greater at the memorials, clap, wave flags and have your kids (if you have them) pass out thank you cards. If you don’t live near DC you can become a Guardian, that travels with the veteran from their hometown to the memorial as a chaperon of sorts. Look for an organization in your area. See my tabs up top for a huge listing of non-profits that are always looking for support and volunteers.

2. Reach out to families around you – There are very few of us that go through life without having some connection to the military or a military family. Look for those people around you and reach out to them. I have never been so blessed in my life then when people have reached out to our family to offer support and love. Whether that be sending my husband and his roommates care packages or offering to help me here at home.

3. Write a letter with Soldier’s Angels – This is an organization that both my mom and I have participated with. Solider’s Angels have grown and has extensive programs for support deployed service members, retired Veterans, female service members and families.

4. Educate Yourself and Those Around You – Something frequently cited by military families at conferences and in surveys is the feeling of a military/civilian divide. The percentage of those serving gets smaller and smaller, which only accentuates that feeling. Service members are coming home having experienced unspeakable things, and growing more and more weary as time goes on. Take the time to understand PTS  (Post Traumatic Stress), anxiety and depression that comes from returning home and feeling alone, survivors guilt and the struggles of our wounded warriors and their caregivers. Speak openly and honestly about it with your children and family members. The assumption that one person CAN’T make a difference is anything but true.

5. Visit a Great Clips on November 11th! – Stop by and visit your local Great Clips {click for more info}. You’ll get a free hair cut card to pass on to a Veteran. It’s a really amazing way to give back and bless a veteran, even if it is something as small a haircut. If you don’t need a haircut tell a Veteran in your life so that they can visit themselves and get their free haircut! With more than 3,800 salons throughout the United States and Canada, Great Clips is the world’s largest salon brand. So odds are, there’s one close to you {check here!}. What I love about having a blog is that I get to highlight organizations, like Great Clips, that have shown dedication to their communities with a focus on philanthropic and volunteer activities. So make sure to join Great Clips on Veteran’s Day to get and give a haircut!

how do you and your family care for and thank the Veteran’s in your life and community?

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Veteran’s Day Thoughts

When I think of Veteran’s Day my mind goes to the inevitable online wars where people go back and forth about Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. When do you thank a Veteran, when do you honor the fallen, and how dare you say “Happy Memorial Day!” While the intentions may be good and honorable, its the loudest and the most intense that tend to be heard, and you are left with a bad taste in your mouth. For the record, saying “Happy Memorial Day,” rubs me the wrong way; and yes, I believe people have lost sight of what these “holidays” mean. But after so many years of war we are weary, and sad and unlike previous wars we can live that all out on the internet for everyone to see. So, lets stop and get a little education…..

What is Veteran’s Day?

Said simply, Veteran’s Day is an official US holiday that honors all of those that have served in the armed forces, Veterans. Around the world you will find holidays such as Remembrance Day and Armistice Day, which are a celebration of the end of WWI. In 1956 it was officially moved to November 11 (the original armistice day after further prodding after WWII.

Think about what it was like then? You might have seen some of the documentaries or videos after WWII ended. The sheer exuberance of people, the ticker-tape parades, boys in uniform running around, girls kissing every one they came across. This had really impacted Americans. They had lost so many young lives, 20+ million military members. There was a great cry for a day to remembers those that had served. Memorial Day however was not formally created (although Decoration Day had been sporadically practiced since the civil war) until 1967.

Veterans day.jpg
This picture and story is probably the most beautiful I’ve seen. On Veterans Day 1982, WWI survivor Joseph Ambrose, honors his son who had perished in the Korean War, by attending a dedication of a VietNam Veterans Memorial. I highly doubt anyone was explaining to anyone in attendance here the difference between the holidays.

So take time today to think about Veterans, all of them – those of the Greatest Generation that are still among us, their fellow service members who they lost. Buy a dinner or a beer for a Veteran and his family, even take the time to honor those that are no longer with us, for they are Veterans too. We don’t need a holiday to do any of that really. If we get all wrapped up in arguing with each other (even if someone is right) we lose sight of what is really important. Our anger takes hold of us and that is not honoring anyone.

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Honor Flight Network: A Great Way to Spend a Weekend

On Sunday I packed my kids up and we went to the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.  My wonderful friend Kelly joined us for the day, and snapped some pictures for me while I was helping the kids.  If you’ve never heard of Honor Flight Network, it is a group of people who made it their mission in life that every living WWII Veteran gets the opportunity to visit ‘their’ memorial.  It is THEIR memorial, and Honor Flight makes sure that they are treated as such.  Flights come in from all over with the veterans and their escorts, or Guardians.  On Sunday we received Veterans from Dayton, Ohio.  Among the WWII veterans there were also Korean and Vietnam.  Many groups within the larger Network, accept applications to assist veterans from those campaigns make it out to DC.  My kids were absolutely thrilled with the experience and have already asked me to do again.  Other than my own personal gratification and warmth I receive for doing these sorts of things, knowing that I am actually making a difference; it is the looks on my children’s faces and their requests to do it again that make me want to keep going again and again.  This is a wonderful service opportunity, whether or not you are located in DC.  Make sure to Visit HFN and find out if there is a hub near you. 

Here are some snapshots from the day!
God Bless our Troops
Thank a Vet today

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Five Ways to Honor Veterans on Veteran’s Day

November 11, 1919, Woodrow Wilson enacted Armistice Day.  It has grown from there, and evolved from a day to honor those that served in WWI to a day to honor all Veterans.  General Dwight Eisenhower was a bolstering factor in making the first National Veteran’s Day in the mid 40’s; however, it was not signed as a law until Eisenhower was president, in 1954.

72-901-1 HR7786 Veterans Day June 1 1954
By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
All over the country people celebrate the day in different ways, setting aside time to honor those who have served.   I grew up in an extremely patriotic home.  That might sound silly I know, because we are all proud of our country; but instilling a sense of pride and understanding in our children as they grow can have such a profound effect on who you are as person.  My parents did such a wonderful job with this, and I want to instill that same thing in my children whether my husband stays in the military or not.  What are some ways that you can Honor (I say that instead of Celebrate, because celebrate just doesn’t sound right) Veterans in your neighborhood?
1. The Veteran’s Day Parade:  This is a staple for most holidays, and if a town is awesome I bet they probably have one.  It’s not only community building, but many Veterans take part in these events, and who wouldn’t love to hear a cheer for them in the crowd.  
**For my DC/VA peeps, check out the Veteran’s Day Parade in Manassas, Va on November 9th 
2.  Visit a local Memorial:  Not only will most memorials be decked out with flags, many of them have special events.  Visiting memorials can be a great teaching tool for your children.  Children surprisingly handle a lot, and here in our house we talk openly and honestly.  We have visited Arlington and Walter Reed with our children and it has been a great experience.
**DC/VA – There will be events at most of the major memorials including The Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp, Vietnam and WWII memorials.  Another fun and unique event will be taking place at Mount Vernon.  There will be a wreath-laying, music and lots of other fun period-related activities.  Military service members (including retired) get in free on November 11th.

3. Holiday Mail for Heroes: The Red Cross has a Holiday Mail program for sending letters to troops and their families who are medical facilities and installations across the world.  The deadline is December 6, so there isn’t a whole lot of time, but it can be a lot of fun, and a great way to involve even the littlest patriots in your family.  Mine will be participating in an event at our local Red Cross, so check out their website to see if there is any event near you or get all the details and guidelines you need to make your own letters.
4. Help a Veteran in Your Life: And when I say “help”, but maybe its not just a physical act of helping.  Maybe you invite them over for dinner, maybe you send them a note, or maybe its just as simple as extending a hand to thank them for their service.  Sometimes that is all they need to put a smile on their face.

5. Don’t forget their families: If there is a family in your circle with a dad/mom deployed, remember to thank them too.  Keeping the fires burning can be a tough job, and sometimes we aren’t the ones that get any recognition.  That isn’t meant to pity us, no…we are safe in our beds each night.  Believe me, we understand what that means.  And while most times when anyone says thanks to me, or anything like that, I awkward accept it and loudly say that it is my husband who deserves all the praise…doesn’t mean that the extra thought doesn’t give me a little pep in my step.  I know my fellow Millies appreciate it as well.
Stop by the VA’s “Veteran’s Day” #HonorAVet website to find listings of what is going on near you!

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