The reason Americans proudly declare that America is ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’ is because of a special set of people who bravely fought for the country we all enjoy. Many service members dedicated their lives to fight for the nation’s freedom.
Whether a veteran is a family member, an acquaintance, or a total stranger – any form of support is very welcome. Especially when their health starts to deteriorate and their resources start to decline. It couldn’t hurt to take a little chunk of your time to show them that you are grateful for their service by supporting them in your own little way.
One way to show appreciation is to gather your family together and commit to visit your elderly family member on weekends, once a month, or during Veteran’s Day. Here are 12 simple ways to show support and gratitude to other senior veterans:
1. Visit A Senior Veteran
You can freely visit senior veterans who are residing in assisted living facilities or nursing homes on appropriate time or dates. Even just devoting 15 minutes of your day can be a big deal for them. You can also show gratitude simply by saying ‘thank you’. There is always a positive impact whenever someone says a heartfelt thank you to war veterans, even if they are no longer in service. A Paradise for Parents always has several veterans who would welcome a chat or visit.
Take it up a notch by actually sitting down with them and lending them an ear. Be ready to hear a lot of interesting stories of survival, camaraderie, and loyalty. But remember to be cautious since there are veterans who feel anxious when they talk about their experiences.
You can ask for assistance by contacting your local VA hospitals. After the visit, you will surely feel positive and you’ll keep coming back for more.
2. Deliver Food to Veterans
Food can be an easy tool to approach people. You can contact food banks in your vicinity or delivery services to help you to deliver food to veterans. Check out Area Agency on Aging for more information.
3. Visit Service Members Who Are Wounded
Your veteran family member undeniably needs someone to talk to, someone who can relate to their experiences. You can contact veterans’ hospitals near you to ask about the visiting hours of the wounded soldiers so you can spend time with them. Better yet, bring a senior veteran with you. Aside from the benefit the senior veteran gets, they are also able to offer friendship and encourage these veterans. There is a huge difference when a fellow soldier is able to give advice. It’s definitely going to be nostalgic and therapeutic.
4. Extend A Helping Hand
If an elderly veteran lives within your neighborhood, find ways to help them – even in the littlest things. You can offer to mow their lawn, plant flowers, clean their house, or bring him/her food. The veteran will surely appreciate the much needed assistance you give them.
5. Go to ‘Honor A Veteran’ Nights
A bunch of sporting events such as basketball or soccer games often show their gratitude by saluting veterans and active military personnel. You can invite your veteran loved one so they will not only feel appreciated, but also might enjoy the game itself. A court or arena full of grateful people will let veterans know that their efforts do not go unnoticed. Through this event, they can also meet with other veterans so they can widen or create their social circle.
6. Watch Out For Discounts for Senior Veterans
Many companies offer discounts to veteran or military people. If you are a business owner, the least you can do is to offer one. They are able to enjoy discounts whenever they go shopping, eat at restaurants, watch movies, and the like. Or you can also do some research yourself and look for a list of discounts for veterans. Here is a list of veteran discounts to start.
7. Give Back to A VFW in Your Area
The budget for supporting VFWs is greatly reduced. Active service members who return home from wars and tours of duty, as well as elderly veterans, are in need of continued support. It is greatly beneficial to extend any form of help financially to your local VFW or Veterans of Foreign Wars organization. You can give back through conducting a neighborhood fundraiser and donating the money to the organization.
8. Bring A Veteran To A Special Event
For senior veterans who live alone or spend most of their day in a nursing home, taking them out for the day can be really exciting for them. If you do not have a veteran friend or a family member, you can contact the local VA office and arrange a visit. Inform them that you wish to take a veteran out for the day.
It’s as simple as eating snacks together, walking around the park, or watching a movie. Usually, the veteran will not care about the nature of the activity, he/she will be elated by the fact that someone wants to spend time and be with them.
9. Volunteer at Your Local Hospice
In every four deaths in America, at least one of them is a veteran. By volunteering in a hospice, you may give veterans the last bit of appreciation and hope. Simple ways to express your gratitude can make up for the years of lacking recognition from other people, especially to veterans who have no family or have never been welcomed home. Encourage them and love them up until the veteran’s last breath.
10. Listen To Them
How would you feel if you didn’t have anyone to talk to or no one would listen to what you have to say? The least you can do for veterans is to strike a conversation and then listen to them. Even just by asking, “Any favourite memories?” and the will start a great conversation. Help them to celebrate their accomplishments.
11. Open a Support Network for Senior Veterans
With the help of talented friends and family, you can start a support network for veterans within your community. Ask the members to check on them regularly, take them out for brunch, or you even invite them into your own house.
12. Get Involved with Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude is an organization that primarily focuses on honoring veterans and appreciating what they did for the country. Every year, they honor veterans by sending out over 200,000 care packages filled with foods, personal hygiene, hand-made crafts, and letters of appreciation.
The organization’s mission aptly states that they help lift the spirits of the people who loyally served the country and be an avenue for people who truly care. They become totally involved and appreciated by veterans.
There are a lot of ways in which you can extend your help in Operation Gratitude and support service personnel as well. If you do not have the time, you can
- Make a simple donation
- Participate in collection drives
- Write letters to servicemen
- Help organize special events, and
- Spread the word about Operation Gratitude.
Most of their lives, veterans are so used to serving the country and the people – it’s their purpose, their way of living. Imagine being stripped of that responsibility and left with nothing to do. This is one of the reasons why veterans often struggle as they age. It is exactly why it is important to engage with them and encourage them. Make them feel appreciated. Connect with a senior veteran and invite them for a cup of coffee or walk with them in the park. Helping veterans to be more sociable prevents them from being socially isolated. They will feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when they tell you their story.