Our Veterans have taken on a lifestyle of service and sacrifice, ready to give their all to protect people they’ve never even met.

To honor these everyday heroes, get your family involved in some activities you can participate in not only on Veterans Day, but many days throughout the year to your show appreciation.

1. Write Thank You Cards

Living away from your home and family is tough, and it can be easy for these young men and women to feel lonely and homesick. Remind them that they are loved and appreciated, even by those they have never personally met.

If you have school-age children, have them make their own cards out of construction or craft paper, or buy already made cards and write a personal message on the inside. There are plenty of organizations that will send your thank-you cards to current and past servicemen and women — a quick Google search can help you find plenty to choose from.

2. Become a Pen Pal to Someone Deployed Overseas

Mail call is something just about everyone looks forward to. You can give someone more reasons to smile by becoming a pen pal, or by having your children become pen pals. You can send not only letters, but pictures of people and events in the community, newspaper clippings or a few comic strips to help your pen pal feel closer to home.

3. Visit or Serve in a VA Hospital

Bring the family to visit those housed in the local VA. Bring some books, board games, card games or maybe some crafts that older adults would appreciate. Spend some time with someone who seems lonely — having a few people to talk to and spend time with can make a world of difference to someone who feels alone and unloved.

4. Help Out a Military Family

Families that have a parent deployed overseas are essentially experiencing single parenthood. The mom or dad that is at home with the kids is still frantically planning school lunches, checking homework and getting the kids to soccer practice and piano lessons. 

Find out what you can do to help. Maybe you can run some errands, mow the lawn or watch the kids for a couple of hours so mom can get a manicure or dad can go fishing. In fact, bring your kids over for a play date. The parent deployed over seas will rest easy knowing his or her family is being taken care of.

5. Take a Homeless Veteran Out to Dinner

It is one of our country’s greatest shames that we send men and women to fight for our freedom, only to allow them to become homeless upon their return. It is not hard to pick out the veterans from the homeless population — they are often the ones that hold up a sign that says something along the lines of, “Homeless Vet. Anything helps. God Bless America.” 

They are, unfortunately, often the most misunderstood and even feared people in the community. Remember that they, like the rest of us, just want respect and dignity. You may not be able to give him or her a job or a place to live, but you can treat him or her to a meal and some company. Or you can simply pick up a hot meal at a restaurant and bring it to a homeless vet along with some new blankets or socks to keep warm. 

6. Make a Donation

There are numerous organizations that exist to assist veterans. To get the kids involved, do something with them like set up a lemonade stand for a day, wash cars or sell carnations to raise money. At the end of your fundraiser, have your children help you count your earnings and pick which organization they’d like to donate to. It will be much more memorable to them if they get to help make decisions.

7. Say ‘Thanks’

How many times have you seen someone wearing a hat or shirt that says “Vietnam Vet” or “Proud Army Mom?” Take a moment to shake hands and just say “Thanks for your service” or “Tell your son I said thanks.” You’ll make their day.

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