by Christa Melnyk Hines
During this month of Thanksgiving, don’t forget our military service members. Many organizations and veterans’ groups offer ways to help support and show gratitude to members of the armed forces. Help a veteran, a deployed service member, and/or military families know that you appreciate their sacrifices. Here’s how:
1) Help an expectant military mom. Nothing relieves a soldier’s worries than knowing his family is supported back home. Soldiers’ Angels Baby Brigade (formerly Operation Top Knot), an organization started by college student Audri Cid in 2003, is a nationwide network of individuals who sew, knit and create gift baskets to support new and expectant mothers whose husbands are deployed. To donate baby blankets, diapers, bottles, clothing and other items, visit https://soldiersangels.org/Baby-Brigade-Team.html
2) Write a letter. Remind veterans and their families that you’re thinking about them and appreciate their commitment to our nation. Write a letter to a deployed soldier, a wounded warrior, or a veteran who has served in past wars through OperationGratitude.com or OperationWeAreHere.com
3) Support their furry friends. Raise money to go toward fostering pets of active duty service members, wounded warriors and homeless veterans. Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is a non-profit organization that finds qualified foster families to care for pets while soldiers are deployed or when military families transfer overseas. The foster families also care for pets whose warriors have died. Visit www.gafsp.org
4) Contribute to Paralyzed Veterans of America. This organization supports veterans who suffer from spinal cord injuries. Participate in one of the organization’s sporting events or fundraisers, make a monetary donation, or collect and donate bags of clothing, shoes, belts, hats, books, CDs, and small household goods. For more information, visit www.pva.org.
5) Assist disabled and wounded veterans. Volunteer at your local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital or help disabled veterans, whether by running errands, doing yard work, or assisting them with transportation. Contact www.dav.org for more information. Also, check out the Wounded Warrior Project for other ways to help injured service members.
6) Share your points. Fisher House, which builds homes where military and veterans’ families can stay while their service member is receiving treatment at a nearby VA hospital, also runs programs called Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes. Consider donating your frequent flyer airline mileage or hotel points to help loved ones be near their sick or injured service member. Visit fisherhouse.org to learn more.
7) Aid service dogs. PatriotPaws trains dogs to serve disabled veterans. You can volunteer to help the organization by bathing and walking dogs, running errands or fundraising. For more information, visit www.patriotpaws.org.
8) Clip coupons. Don’t toss your expired coupons! Military families stationed overseas can use coupons for up to six months past the expiration dates. Visit www.coupsfortroops.com for drop-off sites or to find out where to mail your coupons.
9) Donate DVDs. DVDS4Vets is a non-profit organization started by Dr. Richard Landis, an orthopedic surgeon who helped build clinics in Afghanistan, and James F. Nicholson, who served as an Air Force pilot in Korea between 1950 and 1953. Landis and Nicholson saw a need to provide basic entertainment for veterans who returned home with traumatic brain injuries and other serious wounds and were undergoing long-term rehabilitation. To donate used or new DVDs to veterans, visit www.dvds4vets.org.
10) Send a care package. Soldiers who are serving far from home look forward to receiving mail. Visit Anysoldier.com to learn how to send a letter and what is appropriate for care packages. If you’d like to help support a veteran who does not have family to assist in the transition to home and civilian life, check out the Adopt a Veteran program through SoldiersAngels.org. Those who volunteer to be an Adopting Angel make a 12-month commitment to send a letter each week and a small gift once a month, tailored to the individual veteran’s specific needs.
11) Say thank you. If you see a soldier in uniform or a veteran, a simple “Thank you for your service” is a considerate way to express your gratitude. For more ways to thank a vet, visit www.kidsthankavet.com.
Veterans Day Quiz
1. Veterans Day originated after which of the following wars?
B. The Revolutionary War
2. What year did Veterans Day become a national holiday?
3. Which U.S. president changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day?
A. Dwight D. Eisenhower
B. John F. Kennedy
C. Franklin D. Roosevelt
1. Answer (C): Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, to mark the one-year anniversary of Germany signing the Armistice to formally end WWI.
2. Answer (B): Veterans Day became a national holiday in 1938.
3. Answer (A): In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation to change the name of the holiday to Veterans Day, to honor all those who have served in American wars.