According to a 2020 Census Bureau report, the largest group of veterans served during the Vietnam era and have a median age of 71. But whether they enlisted only a few years ago or in decades past, we make time each November to honor all veterans for their service and sacrifice.

7 Ways to Recognize, Support & Honor Veterans

This year, if you want to honor a Vineyard resident, loved ones, or community member who served, we’ve got a few ideas worth considering:

Host or Participate in Special Events

Treat veterans like VIPs on Veterans Day! Participate in events like flag-raising ceremonies or roundtable discussions where every veteran can share their stories. Not sure what’s happening in your area? Check your local newspaper, city events calendar and senior living community calendar to find a few opportunities—some organizations, like churches, may even host free lunches for veterans. 

Want to host a veteran-focused activity? For a simple, compelling visual (and fun craft to share with friends), make and wear red poppies with fellow senior living community residents to show support for service members in your area. Small activities like these help you build connections with veterans and make the most of your time in retirement.

Keep Veterans Booked and Busy

There are plenty of experiences, events and restaurants that offer discounts for veterans on this holiday. So, why not treat your favorite veteran to a full day of fun and special treatment?

Restaurants, retailers and recreational attractions offer discounts and freebies on or around Veterans Day. Several restaurants, like Bob Evans, Red Lobster, and Chili’s, provide free meals for veterans and active-duty military on November 11. Retailer discounts range from free haircuts to savings at stores like Kohl’s, Publix and Walgreens. 

Local zoos, museums, and parks have free or discounted admission on or around Veterans day for veterans and military members. And if you want to explore the outdoors, all national parks are free on Veterans Day.

Send a Letter or Package

Don’t underestimate the power of a pencil! Reach out to the veterans you know with a thank-you card or send a letter of encouragement or a care package to a military member overseas. Make it a tradition and send one a token of your thanks each year. Not sure who to write your letter to? You can find soldiers to support through organizations like AdoptaPlatoon or Soldiers’ Angels.

Engage New Generations

Whether the youngsters in your family are school-age or young adults, encourage them to connect with older relatives to learn about their experiences in the military. See if your child’s school will invite a veteran to share their memories. For an extra personal touch, give teenagers or young adults photos of their grandparents in uniform. They can post pictures on social media and share stories of your family history. 

Ask a Veteran About their Service 

Asking a veteran about their service is an excellent (and often forgotten) way for us to learn about our country’s history and the sacrifice of those who keep us safe. Here are some questions to start the conversation:

  • How long did you serve?
  • Who else served in the family?
  • What was your role in the military?
  • What is one of your best memories from that time?
  • How did you choose your branch of service? 
  • What countries did you visit during the war?

Remember that some memories of military service may be traumatic or difficult to talk about openly. Make sure your discussions are rooted in compassion and avoid forcing a conversation on topics that an individual may not want to cover.

Donate to Veteran Charities

A simple and direct way to support veterans is by donating to charitable organizations supporting wounded warriors. Here is a list of highly-rated organizations that assist injured veterans. These organizations support veterans, their families, and in some cases, first responders.

Choose to Honor Veterans This Year

There are countless ways to honor veterans and show appreciation for their service. What matters most is that your effort is sincere and directly supports a military member who could use the support. Use these ideas (among others you may already have) to recognize the veterans in your family and community this Veterans Day! And from the Vineyard family to all our resident veterans, we appreciate your sacrifice and are deeply honored to both know you and share our community with you.