Veterans Day is just several days away. What do you typically do on this special day? Make it more than just a day off from work or school. Take an hour or two to volunteer on behalf of veterans who placed their very lives on the line to protect and ensure our freedom. It’s impossible to compensate them for their great personal sacrifice, but we can demonstrate deep appreciation for all they’ve done by sharing a little bit of ourselves. Here are five meaningful ways to volunteer on Veterans Day.
- Be an active listener. Veterans are often expert story tellers. They have journeyed to places you may never see, often in a time you can’t imagine. They have a lifetime of wisdom and experience, and if they’re willing to share their journey with you, most likely you’ll be the one to come away with a gift you never imagined. As you prepare to listen, keep these tips in mind:
- Give your veteran your undivided attention.
- Lean into the conversation, giving them nonverbal cues that you’re really engaged.
- Be sensitive to questions our veteran may not want to answer.
- Refuse to be judgmental.
- Celebrate with veterans. Show your support and encourage veterans on their day by participating in festivities. Take time to research what activities are happening locally in honor of their day. Then go out and participate.
- Stand in the crowd and enthusiastically cheer your veterans on during a parade.
- Congratulate them on their service by introducing yourself.
- Thank them personally for their service during the celebrations in your community.
- Make it personal. If you know a veteran, ask them what they need. They may need transportation to and from community activities on Veterans Day. They might like for you to drop off or pick up their mail, stop by the grocery store for a few things they need, or mow their lawn. If they are reluctant to share a need, feel free to ask a friend, caregiver or loved one how you could meet a need. (Whatever you commit to, make sure you deliver on your promise that day or the next few days.)
- Pick up their tab. If you see a veteran in line at the coffee shop or out at a restaurant, pay for their drink or meal. Those serving them are more than happy to bring you the check and it’s a nice surprise to honor them for their service.
- Write a personal thank you. As you have the opportunity to get to know some of our veterans, express your thanks in a letter or notecard. Try to mention something about them that personal and relevant to your time together, even if it was a short hello. Then share how much you appreciate their service. Veterans often keep your words of appreciation as a reminder that someone took the time to care.
Last year we asked a local high school to join us on Veteran’s day… their band played and the media team live- streamed the event. THIS year the teacher CALLED US to ask if they could come again…”the kids don’t need a day off, they need to learn about the men and women who keep us free”. Love it when we find partners in the community!
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Wow, this is very neat. How great to see a school show interest in honoring our veterans and thank you for all you do to honor veterans on Veteran’s Day and year round.