The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marked the signing of the armistice to end the Great War, or what would later be known as WW1, in 1918. One year later, President Wilson declared the day Armistice Day, and soldiers of the war were celebrated-those who had survived marched in hometown parades and were honored with speeches by local and national politicians. In 1938, Armistice Day was voted a national holiday, and then in 1971 became Veterans Day, honoring veterans of all wars, under President Nixon.
On Veterans Day, our nation pauses to remember the service and sacrifice of its veterans. In my family, we celebrate the personal sacrifices we have all made and the ones we continue to make with the after-effects of war. As a spouse of a combat veteran, life after service can be more of a sacrifice, and I personally try to find ways to give back to military families. This year, I would like to challenge you to do the same: draw inspiration from the outstanding men and women that we all call heroes and get more involved.
If you want to thank our veterans, service members and their families, then ask yourself how you can make a difference and do it. I want to share some easy ways that all of us can make a difference in the lives of service members and their families, not only on Veterans Day but throughout the entire year.
- Give Back: This one seems like a no-brainer. Giving back is not just about writing a check to your favorite veteran service organization (VSO), it’s much more. While monetary funds are essential for nonprofits to carry out their missions, something as simple as sharing their social media posts can be equally as helpful. Being actively involved with several VSO’s, and one thing I always say to Semper K9‘s volunteers is to share about the mission…you may be sharing to someone who can help or more importantly someone who needs their help. Find a cause you can get behind and volunteer. Even if you can only commit a few hours, it helps more than you may realize.
- Show Up: Attend events in your community that celebrate or benefit veterans. Show your support. There are always lots of events happening around Veterans Day, especially parades. Roy Rogers said, “We can’t all be heroes; someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
- Ask & Listen: Some service members do not want to talk about their service, especially combat veterans. You can always ask them about their MOS (military occupational specialty) to find out more about their service and make a connection with a family member, friend or member of your community. Go one step further to asking and actually listen. I love to hear stories our service members have. My husband Chris participated in Americans at Wartime Museum’s Voices of Freedom. We now have a DVD of him talking about his service and the video is also shared on their website. You never know what new things you will learn until you ask!
- Support: Veteran-owned businesses are on the rise. Supporting a veteran-owned business is an easy way to help put food on the table or pay a mortgage for a military family. Military spouse-owned companies, like R. Riveter, are also on the rise. Military spouses have a tough time finding careers, even after their family has left active duty service. Many transition into the role of caregiver, taking on a career they never imagined. Anytime I hear about a company who hires veterans and military spouses they are my go-to for any products or services I need.
- Remember All Year: We are fortunate to have a day that provides a national platform through which to show our appreciation for our veterans. But a simple “thank you” at any time during the year is a great way to show appreciation for all our military families past and present for the service they provide every day.
It is with great pride and honor that I wish all of our military families a happy Veterans Day this year. Also, let’s not forget to honor and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families.
I am also encouraging you to consider taking my personal Veterans Day Challenge. Find out more details here: http://semperk9.org/event/veterans-day-challenge/