Veterans Day is a week away. It should be a time for all Americans to reflect on the sacrifices of our service members past and present, but for veterans and their families, the day is especially significant. The holiday falls on a weekend this year, which offers more time than usual to observe Veterans Day in personally meaningful ways. Here are a few ideas:
The History Channel is sponsoring and promoting a classroom program called Take a Vet to School Day. Veterans are invited to share their experiences with students. The program is a great chance for kids to learn about history and service in ways that help them connect personally with the concepts. Visit the Take a Vet to School webpage or email email@example.com to get involved. Even if you don’t participate in Take a Vet to School Day or another organized program, make a point to share at least part of your story with someone- especially a young person- on Veterans Day.
Veterans, you have every right to be proud of your service. Take this Veterans Day as a hard-earned opportunity to celebrate and enjoy some well-deserved appreciation.
- Chili’s offers a free meal to veterans and active-duty service members on Veterans Day.
- Golden Corral is holding a Military Appreciation dinner on Monday, November 14; dinner is free for veterans and active-duty service members, and a portion of the evening’s proceeds supports the Disabled American Veterans.
- Texas Road House has a free lunch menu for veterans and active-duty service members from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. (that’s 1400 for those you still operating on Military Time) on Veterans Day.
- Veterans and active-duty service members eat free at Applebee’s on Veterans Day.
- Denny’s has free Original Grand Slams for veterans and active-duty service members on Veterans Day.
- Subway is giving free six-inch sandwiches to veterans and active-duty service members on Veterans Day.
- TGI Friday’s offers a Veterans Day buy one, get one free entree deal to veterans and active-duty service members.
- Outback Steakhouse is giving all veterans and active-duty service members a free Bloomin’ Onion and a free Coca-Cola product from November 7 through Veterans Day.
- The National Park Service is hosting a “fee-free weekend” from November 11 to November 13 at many National Parks which usually charge fees (many more National Parks are always free).
- Active-duty service members, including activated National Guard members and Reservists, can register for one day a year of free admission at any Anheuser-Busch park (on the date of your choice) for the service member and up to three dependents.
Donate (or Volunteer)
Veterans looking for a way to continue serving or help their fellow vets, as well as members of the public who want to give back to America’s veterans, should consider observing Veterans Day by donating time and money to:
- Disabled American Veterans – Volunteers are needed to drive vans to help disabled veterans get to clinics and hospitals for medical care, visit and support disabled veterans at VA hospitals, and provide other forms of assistance to disabled veterans and their families. Monetary donations also help support these and other programs.
- Wounded Warrior Project – You can support and improve quality of life for seriously injured service members by participating in the Wounded Warrior Project’s organized activities, planning your own fundraiser, encouraging your congressional representatives to support legislation which helps injured service members, or helping raise awareness of the challenges facing wounded service members, the Wounded Warrior Project, and its goals. Donations are, of course, always welcome and needed.
- Operation Just Cause – Join the effort to bring home the nearly 2,000 American service members still listed as POW/MIA or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. Adopt a missing service member; contact your congressional representatives to encourage increased efforts to account for all American troops missing from any conflict (and your adopted service member in particular); and show the world, your fellow Americans, and the families of the missing that someone still remembers.
- America’s VetDogs – This charitable organization works to provide trained guide dogs and service dogs to disabled veterans; it also provides therapy dogs to patients in military and VA hospitals. You can help by organizing a fundraiser, donating to America’s VetDogs, participating in the Combined Federal Campaign, or simply by purchasing specially marked Bil-Jac dog treats at Petco.
- Your local cemetery – Many national and state veterans’ cemeteries, as well as many local cemeteries, organize volunteers to clean and decorate graves around Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and other holidays. If you can’t find an organized program at a cemetery in your area, consider leaving flowers or small flags at veterans’ graves on your own. It’s a very poignant way to say thanks and connect with veterans of past generations, and gravestones sometimes tell interesting stories if you know how to look. Many veterans’ cemeteries also need volunteers to answer phones, act as docents, or help with other tasks.