At Pets for Patriots, every day is an opportunity to honor our military veterans.
Here are a few ways to show gratitude to veterans and their families every day of the year. This post has been updated in light of COVID-19.
Visit sick, injured, and elderly veterans
Many veterans in hospitals, nursing or retirement homes struggle with loneliness and depression. They would welcome someone coming by for a visit.
Ask the staff beforehand if personal care items or home-baked goods are permitted. But remember that the greatest gifts are your time, companionship, and willingness to listen.
COVID-19 update: if visitation is not possible, ask staff at the facility about arranging video calls. Find out if gifts of personal care items, holiday treats, or other goods may be sent directly to patients in their care. If so, order from local small businesses, which will give them a much-needed lift as well.
Hire a veteran or help one get a good (or better) job
Returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face higher rates of unemployment than both civilians and other veteran generations. Those 18-25 years old face the highest percentage of unemployment.
You may not be in a position to hire. But recommending a veteran you know at your place of work is a great way to honor our military veterans. It helps them provide for their families and re-integrate to civilian life.
If you are retired or your business is not hiring, help a newly returned service member write a resume. Sponsor a veteran at a professional networking event, or help a veteran acquire skills to land a new – or better – job.
COVID-19 update: share this great list of organizations that are helping veterans find employment during the pandemic.
Adopt a veteran or military family
The spouses, partners, children, and parents of military members serve, too. They sacrifice the comfort and companionship of their loved ones during deployments, change of duty stations, and other realities of military life.
Still others make the ultimate sacrifice when they lose their service member in action or even to suicide.
In addition, 40 percent of veterans are 65 or older, including many who live alone or far from their loved ones.
Honor our military veterans by offering to help with minor home repairs, local errands, or just asking if they want to talk. Check in from time to time since they may be hesitant to ask for help.
Invite a local military family or veteran to your holiday dinners or weekend cookouts, knowing that they may be without a mother, father, spouse or child.
COVID-19 update: while the pandemic makes some in-person gatherings a challenge, there are still ways to embrace veterans and military families in your community.
Deliver a home-cooked meal, host a small outdoor gathering, or arrange a regular video chat to stay in touch. Offer to help with yard work or other exterior home maintenance.
Support veterans’ causes
The scope, variety, and urgency of veterans’ needs is vast and growing. This is especially true as more service members return from the Middle East and other conflict zones around the world.
Nonprofit, community, and faith-based organizations are a critical support network for veterans at all stages of their careers.
Find a veterans service organization that inspires you – like Pets for Patriots. Give as often and generously as you can. Even if you are unable to contribute financially, volunteer or spread the word about their good work.
COVID-19 update: the pandemic has impacted the finances and operations of nearly every nonprofit organization. Ask the charity of your choice how you can help, even if you are unable to make a financial donation.
And remember that gifts of $5 or more can go a long way to supporting the nonprofit’s mission.
Say “Thank you”
Honor our military veterans by acknowledging their service when you encounter them in your daily life. It may be a veteran in uniform, or one wearing a commemorative military cap or jacket.
Step forward, extend your hand and say, “Thank you for your service.”
If the veteran seems open to more conversation, ask what branch of service he or she served in, where they served, and what was their role. Do not ask anything invasive, but do say “Thank you for your service” again before departing.
COVID-19 update: saying “thank you” is one action you can take regardless of the pandemic, so say it loud and say it often!