It’s better to give than to receive
The holiday season is upon us, and it’s a great time of year to give back to those in need. There probably aren’t many individuals more deserving of charity than the men and women who have served in the US military and protected our freedom. Here are seven simple things you can do to bring the holiday spirit to a veteran:
“Adopt” a military family for the holidays
Many veteran families are on a pretty tight budget, with 1 in 5 living paycheck to paycheck according to research done by the Center for American Progress. This budget can get even tighter with the additional financial strain of the holiday season. One way you can help is by adopting a military family that could use a hand. Organizations like Soldier’s Angels allow you to show your gratitude to those who have fought for our freedom by purchasing presents for their children or giving them grocery gift cards. Everyone deserves a nice holiday dinner with all the trimmings!
Send a care package or letter
The transition back to civilian life can be difficult for many service members. Operation Gratitude is another great organization that helps by sending individually addressed care packages to the military community, including current service members and veterans. Operation Gratitude also has a letter-writing campaign that encourages everyone to write handwritten letters of gratitude to veterans.
Volunteer at a local veterans program
Many veterans return home after serving our country to face additional challenges, like unemployment, homelessness, and a range of mental health issues. Many shelters and transitional programs have been established in communities across the US to help veterans overcome these difficulties. You and your family can do your part during the holidays by volunteering at a local veterans shelter. Check out Volunteers of America to see if there are local services in your area where you can volunteer your time.
Donate your frequent-flyer miles
Don’t have time to volunteer? A quick and simple way to help during the holidays is by donating your frequent-flyer miles to reunite veterans undergoing treatment at a VA medical center with their families. Fisher House Foundation provides round-trip airline tickets to veterans and their families by accepting frequent-flyer mile donations from individual airline passengers like you!
Volunteer at a VA hospital
There will still be many more service members in VA hospitals throughout the holiday season far from their homes and families. Sometimes the best gift you can give these individuals is your time. Check with your local VA hospital and see if you’re able to bring the holiday cheer by visiting a hospitalized veteran. Bringing a smile to the face of an ill or injured vet doesn’t cost you a dime, and you can see the results of your actions immediately. You could even make a life-long friend with much to teach you.
Say thank you
Saying thank you is a simple, quick, and effective way to honor the brave men and women who served our country. If you see someone in military uniform, say something. You don’t have to give a speech worthy of a standing ovation; sometimes a simple “thank you for defending our freedom” can make a difference in a military person’s day. And remember to follow up your thank you with one of the acts of kindness, gratitude, or generosity suggested above.