With all that veterans have sacrificed for their country, it is natural for those in the civilian community to want to thank them in some way. While the first thing that may come to mind is telling a veteran “thank you for your service,” some veterans may not feel comfortable being thanked in this way. Additionally, those who want to express their gratitude to veterans may want to do so in a way that goes beyond a simple “thank you.” Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that individuals can show their gratitude to veterans for their service to our country.
Ways to Donate Time (Or Money) to Help Veterans
One practical way to show your gratitude is donating money or volunteering for causes that assist veterans. Some ideas include:
- Donate to a veteran’s organization: There are many organizations that support veterans who have been wounded, current service members who are experiencing financial difficulties, or those who are transitioning out of the military. A list of highly rated charities that work to help veterans and service members can be found here.
- Donate frequent-flyer miles: The Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles Program allows family members to travel to be with service members who have been injured; donating your miles can help the program reach more families.
- Help build a home: Purple Heart Homes builds houses for wounded veterans. Individuals can either donate money for building materials, or can help with building homes.
- Drive a veteran to an appointment: The DAV Transportation Network relies on volunteers to drive veterans to their appointments at the VA, helping to ensure that even those veterans who are not very close to their local VA clinic are able to get to their appointments and receive their necessary treatments.
- Deliver a meal: Some veterans, especially those who are older, may not have enough food. This can be due to being more isolated, having a limited budget, or lacking adequate transportation. One way to help these veterans is by delivering a meal to them, through a program such as Meals on Wheels.
- Pay for a veteran’s meal: If you see a service member while at a restaurant, you can speak to the waitstaff or manager to ask to pay for the service member’s meal.
- Send a care package: There are many nonprofits that collect donations and send care packages, while other organizations allow individuals to send their own packages. Care packages may be sent to service members who are deployed, or those who have been injured.
- Care for a veteran or service member’s pet: If you have the time and space, you can foster the pet of an injured veteran or deployed service member. Dogs on Deployment has more information on how you can help.
- Lay a wreath at a service member’s grave: Wreaths Across America places wreaths on headstones in veteran cemeteries across the United States each December. Individuals can volunteer to help place wreaths, or donate to help the organization purchase wreaths for over 1,200 locations in the U. S. and overseas.
- Donate in honor of a service member or veteran: If you are looking for a gift for a friend or loved one, you could donate to a military or veteran charity in their name. There are organizations to help homeless veterans, those who were injured from specific conflicts, and many more. Many organizations provide a card or letter that can be given to your recipient, informing them that a donation has been made in their name; one example is the USO Wishbook.
- Volunteer at a Fisher House: This organization gives family members of veterans a free place to stay while their loved one is recovering from an injury or receiving treatment at a VA facility. Volunteers can help with housekeeping, provide babysitting services, or help with gift and toy drives.
How to Thank a Veteran in Person
There are many ways to thank veterans in person as well. These can include:
- Sending a thank you card or email to a veteran you know personally.
- Visiting veterans in local hospitals or nursing homes.
- If you know of veterans in your community, try to get to know them and spend time with them.
- Help a veteran in your community: The veteran population in the United States is getting older, and many younger veterans have experienced life-altering injuries. This means that there are likely veterans in your neighborhood or community that you could help out with things like mowing their yard, picking up groceries for them, or helping with small tasks around the house. This is a great way to provide support and show your thanks.
Ways Businesses Can Show Appreciation for Veterans
In addition to the ways that individuals can thank veterans, businesses can also show their gratitude to veterans in several ways. These include:
- Hiring veterans: Veterans bring many valuable skills to a workplace, so in addition to showing gratitude to our service members, businesses can also benefit from having veterans as employees.
- Hiring military caregivers and military spouses: Another way to support and thank veterans is by providing support to their family members and caregivers. Like veterans, military spouses provide great value to a company.
- Hire a veteran to speak at a corporate event: Veterans have a great deal of insight on managing crises, leadership, and resilience.
- Donate your time and services pro bono: There are many ways that businesses can provide services to veterans. For example, assistance with legal matters is helpful for veterans as they navigate their transition from the military, VA claims, or other legal issues.
In addition to hiring veterans, businesses can also help veterans feel appreciated by utilizing veteran-owned businesses. Nearly ten percent of small businesses in the United States are owned by veterans, so other organizations could help by adding them to their supply chain, or being frequent customers.
There are so many ways to show gratitude to veterans, and opportunities are available to everyone regardless of the time or financial commitment they are able to make.
Heather Maxey works at a non-profit that addresses military ineligibility. She is an Army spouse, and met her husband while working as a Health Educator at Fort Bragg.
|How to Choose a Military or Veteran Charity||Veteran & Military Charities|
|Wreaths Across America||United Service Organizations (USO)|
|Military & Veteran Hiring Guide||State Veteran’s Benefits|