Next week is Veterans Day in the US, a day set aside to honor those who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces. Most of us have overwhelming feelings of gratitude for those who serve, but rarely know how to "celebrate" the day and give honor.
A friend of mine whose husband has been serving overseas over the past several years during several back-to-back tours of duty shared her thoughts about ways you and I can show our support to veterans, active duty soldiers, and their families too:
1. Visit a veteran. Bake a plate of cookies and visit a veteran and his or her family. Everybody appreciates a sweet treat and especially the genuine concern for how everyone in the family is doing. A soldier can often feel a lot of support while in active duty, but not as much after coming home, which can be a difficult time of adjustment. Keep in mind that they don't leave the war just because they've come home.
2. Say thanks. When you see a member of the military or their family, take time to thank them for their service and sacrifice. It takes almost no time and effort, but it is so appreciated to know that people care and understand the sacrifice involved for the entire family.
3. Send treats and letters. When possible, send treats to an active duty soldier. When it comes to food, most soldiers are subject to cafeteria-type food or MREs. Something good to eat from back home is a wonderful and appreciated gift. Most soldiers have access to email, so take time to write a note to share your gratitude. Include photos, funny stories, or updates on people he or she knows. If you are friends with the soldier's family, express your support for them as well.
4. Be a friend to the family back home. A soldier worries just as much about his family back home as they worry about him in a war zone. Consider "adopting" a soldier's family and offer to help with yard work, home repairs, and other tasks that are often shared by two adults. Watching over a soldier's family is a wonderful way to show your appreciation for someone watching out for your family elsewhere.
5. Volunteer. A great way to give back is through your local VA hospital. Contact them and ask for opportunities to serve. Most will have needs and ideas of how you can help by donating time or goods. (We at Mrs. Fields Gifts are honored to be donating hundreds of cookies to the VA hospital in Salt Lake City to be shared with patients on Veterans Day.) A little from you can mean a lot, so don't hesitate to offer what you can.
My thanks to my friend, to her husband, and to all our active duty and veteran soldiers. Here's hoping they all have a sweet Veterans Day!