5 Ways to Honor Veterans Beyond Veteran’s Day
Every year on November 11th and 12th, Americans honor the 19.6 active and formerly active service members who have fought, died and sacrificed for this country.
Founded on November 11, 1919, as a marker of the first anniversary of the end of World War I, Veteran’s Day was originally called “Armistice Day.” In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for an annual observance and 1938 became the first year that the national holiday was celebrated. 17 years later in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had the name officially changed from Armistice Day to what we now call Veteran’s Day.
The activities on Veteran’s Day typically includes parades, great speeches and families visiting the graves of family members who fell in battle. But who says that honoring our veterans should be limited to just one day? Here are five simple ways to give thanks to our war heroes all year long:
Send a letter or care package
Showing that you care doesn’t have to be expensive, as Operation Gratitude has proven. Founded in March 2003, the organization has sent more than 2 million individually addressed care packages to military personnel. At home and abroad, everyone from soldiers to seamen to coast guardsmen to even their children at home and their care givers receive care packages.
Each package contains simple things such as snack foods, personal hygiene products, handmade items and even personal letters of support. The products donated for these car packages are usually between $45 to $100 and only costs Operation Gratitude $15 to assemble and ship them.
Support veterans suffering from PTSD
There is nothing more honorable than protecting and serving our country; however, the horrors of war witnessed can have lasting effects on both our veterans and on their families and friends. This commonly known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. This is a condition in which any reminder of war or horrifying event can trigger fear or panic and can cause trouble for our heroes who are readjusting to civilian life.
It’s important to make sure the veterans in our lives get the help they need. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a service known as the PTSD Coach Online, that helps veterans manage symptoms of PTSD, find ways to cope with the condition and receive professional help. A Veteran Crisis Line is offered by the National Center for PTSD at the number 1-800-273-8255.
Help veterans on the streets
Unfortunately, despite their service, many of our veterans are left homeless and struggle to get by every day. All that needs to be done to help is a simple phone call at 877-4AID-VET or 877-424-3838 to connect to the VA. This is a 24/7 service, available day and night.
The VA also offers what is commonly known as the Stand Down Program. Started in San Diego in 1988, these services are typically one-to-three day events that provide homeless and unemployed veterans with food, shelter, clothing and health screenings. To find out when and a where a Stand Down will take place, contact your local VA hospital.
Donate to the Wounded Warriors Project
Not everyone comes back from war unscathed. Sometimes the injuries can be both mental and physical. More than 52,000 servicemen and women have been physically injured in recent war conflicts, 500,000 are living with invisible injuries like depression and PTSD and 320,000 have debilitating brain trauma. Fortunately, advancements in technology and medicine can help improve the quality of life of our war heroes, but it doesn’t come cheap.
That’s why the Wounded Warriors Project, which has been active since 9/11, relies on donations to help provide veterans with the treatment and equipment they need to adjust to civilian life. Donors can fill out their information online and make either a monthly donation of $19, $25, $30 or more or a one-time donation of $50, $75, $100, $150, $250 or more dollar amount of their choice. Donors can even give their gift in honor or memory of an individual of their choosing.
Share their stories
Sometimes the best way to help a veteran is to get their story told. The Veterans History Project, which started in 2000, is a part of the Library of Congress. This organization collects, preserves and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans to not only help civilians understand the harsh realities of war, but also to hear from veterans tell their versions of some of the most significant moments in U.S. history. Sharing the story of a veteran in your life is a memory that will last a lifetime.