4 Ways to Celebrate Armed Forces Day
As the daughter of a retired lieutenant colonel and the daughter-in-law of a disabled Vietnam veteran, I am unwaveringly grateful for the men and women of our armed services. Celebrations such as Armed Forces Day are deserving tributes to their sacrifices. So what can you do to say “thanks” this Armed Forces Day or any other day? Here are my top picks:
1.Send a letter or care package
When I was in elementary school, my class sent a care package to my dad during Desert Storm. He still speaks fondly of receiving the 23 or so handwritten notes, pictures and cards from a bunch of naïve but super-adorable eight-year-olds. Today, it’s even easier to send packages to our troops with several organizations such as Operation Support Our Troops and Operation Gratitude facilitating the delivery of food, entertainment, hygiene products, handmade items and letters to active duty military and veterans.
2.Volunteer with veterans
This isn’t something you can accomplish in one day. Volunteering with vets, for the most part, requires a background check and training. Visit the VA Voluntary Service website (say hi to Gary Sinise there for me!) to learn more about what you can do. Volunteer opportunities in your community could include driving vets to and from appointments, visiting VA hospital patients, building homes for disabled veterans and feeding and clothing homeless vets. Your time is the most valuable gift you can give!
3.Attend a local celebration
Google “Armed Forces Day [your city] events” to find a parade, picnic or event near you. Where I live, there’s a patriotic concert at a local park with free admission for anyone with a valid military ID. Better yet, host your own celebration for your military friends and family. A home-cooked meal made with love goes a long way! Especially for those returning from combat deployment and a diet of MREs. Trust me; they’re terrible. Although I’ve heard they’ve gotten better over the years, it’s still a hard no from me.
4.Support Veteran-Owned businesses
Nearly 2.5 million businesses are veteran-owned, representing 9% of all U.S. firms. Visit Buy Veteran to find local veteran-owned businesses in your neighborhood. I found 65 vet-owned businesses within a 10-mile radius of my home! If you make hiring decisions at your company or own your own business, consider hiring veterans for open positions. Veterans have proven leadership skills and work ethic, are mission-focused and team players.
While I’ll never pretend to understand the challenges our armed forces face, I do have the unique perspective of an Army brat. I know the importance of days like Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day in celebrating and remembering our brave military personnel. And I hope you take a moment to do just that.