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  • Michelle Haskell

WAYS TO THANK A VETERAN //

On a recent trip girl’s trip to Denver, I decided for a night out on the town wearing an American flag shirt. While at dinner, an older gentleman walked in, proudly sporting a ball cap displaying VETERAN across the front. Growing up in a very patriotic household, I did what I was taught to do, and what I’ve watched my father do more times than I could ever count – I walked up and thanked this man for his services to our country. He smiled, kindly said thanks, and follow up stating how I was more patriotic than he. We both chuckled, and I reminded him there was nothing I could do more patriotic than he –he served our country, something less than 1% of Americans do, including myself. His grandson was with him and noted how I was the first person he’d ever witnessed thank his grandfather for his services.


Personally, this baffled me. A proud Veteran, decked out in Veteran apparel, and I was the first person his grandson had ever witnessed thank him? I started to wonder if I was being invasive. I know a lot of Veterans, especially those who have served many years ago and fought a different war than we are fighting today, don’t like to talk about the things they saw and witnessed. However, for him to wear his ball cap out to dinner, I felt as though he would appreciate the gratitude.


For more than a decade, I have written handmade Veterans Day cards to send to those service members close to me. This is the first year in what seems like forever, I decided not to send these cards. After my experience in Denver, I decided to ask my favorite Veterans about what citizens can do to show their thanks and appreciate for servicemen and women, and their thoughts on gratitude.


It didn’t surprise me when every single one of them felt they didn’t deserve the praise. They felt those who’d given the ultimate sacrifice or sustained injuries were the true heroes. Each one also noted they were simply ordinary people, working their dream job, loved and enjoyed serving their country, and would be honored and glad to do it again.


In honor of those who are serving and have served our country, here’s a few things - suggested by Veterans - we can do to show our appreciate and gratitude.


// SEND CARE PACKAGES – especially to those young soldiers who don’t have a family to call home to. Decorations, homemade cookies, letters of appreciate, simple things can go a long way.


// SEND CARE PACKAGES IN ADVANCE – to really show appreciate, send holiday care package 4-6 weeks in advance. A lot of holiday packages arrive after the holidays due to how long shipping and placement takes, and there are quite a few soldiers serving in hard to reach places.


// DO SOMETHING PATRIOTIC – visit a local military cemetery, read a history book, watch a military film, attend a Veterans Day parade or event, display the American flag in your home.


// DONATE – time or money to the USO - a nonprofit organization providing comfort and warmth through programs, entertainment, and services such as internet, phone, games, snacks, and relaxation to more than 200 locations worldwide.


// TAKE CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES – offer services or chores, cook them a meal, call and check in on them. Those serving with families typically become one-parent households for an average of a year. This alleviates a lot of worry and stress for Veterans when they know their loved ones at home are being taken care of by others in their absence.


// OFFER MILITARY DISCOUNTS – and if you notice military personnel or credit cards during checkout, apply the discount for them. Veterans, more than likely, aren’t going to ask for it.


// LISTEN – if a Veteran decides to open up and talk about their experience, take the time to listen and enjoy their stories and conversation.


// FLY THE AMERICAN FLAG – stand for the flag and anthem, place your hand over your heart, respect your country. And do so proudly. Freedom isn’t free. We live in a very privileged country and a lot of lives were lost defending our freedom. Display your freedom in constructive ways.


// PRAY – for those serving, the families of those serving, and more importantly when those who’ve served returned home. Suicide epidemic. PTSD. Mental health issues. Overcoming the things they had to see and do. They need help, and we need to be the ones to support them.


// BE KIND – simply be nice. Be a good citizen. Be a good neighbor. Be a good friend. Take care of each other. Take care of our country.


// SAY THANK YOU – keep it simple. Give a handshake. This alone is more than enough.


Help show your appreciate and share what you’ve done to give thanks for our Veterans and military men and women!