We have over 600,000 veterans living in Michigan, ranking us 11th out of 50 states for total veteran population. If you live here, there’s a good change you know someone who has served in the military. For Veterans Day last Saturday, towns all over the Mitten State held parades and services to honor our veterans. Many restaurants and other businesses rolled out the red carpet with free meals and other tokens in appreciation for their service to country. But what about the other 364 days in a year? Here are some ways you can honor our veterans all year.
1. “Thank You,” goes a long way. Next time you see a veteran you know or you’re introduced to one, all you need to do is say, “Thank you for your service.” It may seem too easy, but a sincere thank you is the simplest way to let them know you appreciate all they sacrificed for you and this country.
2. Volunteer through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The VA provides many services to our veterans, including medical care. There are many ways to get involved from providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, to organizing a homecoming party for a soldier returning from deployment. See the VA website for more information.
3. Donate to a veterans service organization. There are many organizations dedicated to helping American veterans. A quick internet search will bring up a huge list. Among them are several that provide assistance to injured and disabled veterans. Home for our Troops provides homes equipped for the special needs of vets living with injuries. Operation Homefront provides both financial and recovery assistance for wounded veterans. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provides financial assistance, interest-free loans and educational scholarships to veterans.
4. Teach your children and grandchildren to honor veterans. While our volunteer hours and donation dollars as adults can make a big difference in the lives of many veterans, it’s also important to teach our children to appreciate their service and sacrifice. Someday it will be their job to take up the cause and remember what veterans have done for our country.
5. Record their stories. Not all veterans are ready to share about their time in the service, but when they are, lend an interested, supportive ear. Listen, and if they want, consider recording their stories for future generations. The Library of Congress runs the Veterans History Project. They have materials and advice to help you collect stories from the veterans in your life and community.
6. Support Veteran Owned Businesses. Many veterans start their own businesses when they return to civilian life. Put your money where your heart is by purchasing goods and services from veteran owned businesses in your community. Go to this link to find a directory.
7. Help provide scholarships to children of veterans. Veterans families need support also, and one of the ways you can do that is by donating to organizations that provide college scholarships to children of veterans. AMVETS is one such program.