Veterans Day is an important day for showing appreciation to members of our military, past and present. If you're looking for an appropriate way to honor a veteran in your life, or would like to contribute in a way that's meaningful for veterans everywhere, here's a list of suggestions to start you off.
1. Show Up
Attend a Veterans Day event in your area -- not just a picnic with friends but an honest-to-goodness parade or service for veterans. Roy Rogers said, "We can't all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." Veterans Day is a great opportunity to do just that.
There are a plethora of wonderful organizations who offer all manner of support, services and appreciation for our service members. To get a few ideas for donations, you can check out this page.
3. Fly a flag - correctly
Veterans Day is a great opportunity to fly the flag! Just make sure you're observing the proper rules for display. Not sure exactly what those are? Check out Military.com's guide to the flag.
4. Ask someone about their service
It seems like we all know someone who has served and Veterans Day is a great time to ask them about their service. Some questions to get started are: What did you do in the military? How long did you serve? What was your favorite moment in all your time in the service? Did anyone else in your family serve? Why did you choose to go into the service branch you did? Do not ask if they've killed anyone and should your veteran be a combat vet who is either unwilling to share or plainly states what they went through, be supportive without being intrusive. Sometimes you don't have to say anything, just listen and give them your full attention.
If you know a veteran, write a simple postcard or e-card that recognizes them on Veterans Day. If you don't know a veteran, look up the closest military installation and send one there. Small acts of recognizing someone's service, even anonymously, are appreciated.
6. Don't Confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day
Veterans Day is a time to thank those who are serving or have served and are still with us. Memorial Day is to reflect and remember those who lost their lives in service to their country. Confusing the two or combining the two diminishes the importance of both.
7. Visit a VA Hospital
Find out what the policies are at your nearest VA hospital for interacting with patients or volunteering, and spend the day with a veteran. Many VA facilities will have events on Veterans Day or a special lunch you can help prepare. Even if you never interact with a veteran, helping at a facility is a way to give back.
8. Get Outdoors with a Veteran
Invite a veteran or a military family to explore a national park -- admission is free for all visitors on Veterans Day. Being outside helps improve physical and mental health, boosts emotional well-being, and is a great way to celebrate the day with a veteran.