My family has a long line of veterans in the mix. My daughters' served in the Air Force. Many of my nephew's served or still serve in the Army and the Marine Corps. My father served in both the Navy and the Air Force. A grandfather served in the Army. My brothers both served in the Army. Many of my cousins and uncles served in all branches of service except the Coast Guard. I'm not sure why our family has served in all but that one!
Nevertheless, I am proud of all of them and proud of all the other veterans I'll never know. Serving isn't for everyone. But for those that do, or have, they deserve our thanks at the very least.
Is saying "Thank You" enough?
Recently there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not you should say "Thank You" to one that has served. Why? For some, it makes them uncomfortable. They feel like they shouldn't be thanked for doing what they felt/feel is necessary. Others served, but not in combat, so they feel they have not earned it (they have). Some vets are still dealing with transition back into our world and are not ready to hear the words just yet. Then there are those that just don't feel comfortable because they don't know what to say back or just don't care for strangers approaching them.
I'm not saying not to thank a vet by any means. I frequently do myself. But here are some other ways you can thank a veteran.
Ways to thank a veteran.
- Visit a veteran. Often, veterans homes are just filled with older vets that have no family or others to brighten their day. Stop in. Share a cup of coffee, play a game of checkers, or more importantly, ask them about their service and their life and listen.
- Donate your time to a veteran program. That may include cooking meals, helping to build a home for a wounded vet, or babysitting so a vet and their spouse can have time together.
- Write a check to a charitable foundation that specifically focuses on verterans.
- Show up to Veterans Day parades. Let the veterans see you supporting them!
- If you know a veteran, send a quick note or postcard recognizing them.
- Don't know a veteran. There are plenty of vets deployed that would love a letter from someone who care about their well-being. There are organizations that can help you out with where to send a letter. Veterans United Network and Operation Gratitude are just a few.
- Send a care package to a vet deployed or to a unit in general. Again, there are organizations that can let you know where to send it. Military Missions and Operation Gratitude will help.
- Have extra frequent-flyer miles? Consider donating these miles to vets so they may be with with their families.
- Consider introducing yourself and asking a veteran their name before saying "Thank You." This makes it more personal and they will appreciate the effort.