A lot about life has changed this year thanks to COVID-19, including how we celebrate holidays and special moments. Even though we need to social distance, wear masks, and stay out of large groups, we can still celebrate the moments and people that matter most. We simply need to be safe about it. That’s especially true this Veterans Day, as many military veterans are older and at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
Here’s how you can honor the military veterans in your life and community while keeping everyone safe.
Call a Veteran and Say Thank You
Normally we’d tell you to shake their hand and say thank you. This year, do a more distanced version and call the veterans in your life. This might be a family member or an old college buddy. It may be the child or parent of a friend of yours. You can call them on the phone or invite them to a Zoom chat with other people who want to honor them. It’s important that we acknowledge their sacrifices and service but in a way that keeps everyone safe.
Buy a Meal — From a Distance
If you like to take a veteran you know for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can still do that — in a modified way. Order take-out and have it sent to them. Send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Give them a call once you know their meal (or gift card) have arrived and chat with them. If everyone feels safe and the weather cooperates, have an outdoor picnic, at home or in the park.
Another option might be to call a local restaurant where you know veterans like to eat and pay for a few meals over the phone (or buy gift cards to use as payment). Staff can apply those to veterans meals and simply let them know it was done as a thank you for their service. You can also stay anonymous if you prefer.
Donate to a Homeless Shelter
Donating to homeless shelters that work with veterans can be a huge help. Veterans make up 11 percent of the homeless population in the United States. Look for local shelters or veterans programs in your area or go online to see what national organizations need. You may be able to donate old clothes to a shelter or make a cash donation. Either way, you’re helping veterans who need it most and changing lives.
Recognize Veterans in Your Life
You can do this in a variety of ways. Coordinate with your boss (or do it yourself, if you’re the boss) to send out an email or company-wide message, thanking veterans employed by your company. Publicly thank them for their service and recognize them by name, if possible. You can also do this within smaller communities. Post a message in NextDoor for your neighborhood, thanking the veterans you know personally and inviting others to do the same. Send a family text or email and show the vets in your family extra love, too.
There are plenty of ways to celebrate Veterans Day and show support for veterans in your life and community while keeping everyone safe. Parades may not be a safe option this year, but small acknowledgements can be meaningful for veterans, too.
To all veterans and military families, especially those we know, love, and have worked with, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. We are a better and safer country because of your service.