Every year, on November 11, we honor those who have served our country as part of the armed forces. This day is known as Veterans Day. Whether you know a veteran or not, there are many ways you can show your respect. And, don’t worry. If you don’t have money to donate to a related cause, you can always donate some of your time!

The History of Veterans Day

Originally adopted in 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I, it wasn’t until 1938 that Armistice Day became a legal holiday. After World War II, a veteran named Raymond Weeks led a movement to expand the day from remembering those who died in World War I to remembering the veterans of all wars. In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed this expansion into law, legally changing the holiday’s name to Veterans Day. While the holiday was moved into October in 1968, it returned to November 11 in 1978. All but four states had either returned to celebrating Veterans Day on the 11 at that point or had simply never changed the original date.

Volunteering or Donating to Veteran Charities

One of the best ways to help veterans on Veterans Day is to get active and volunteer with one of the many charities that are set up to help vets in need. A great place to start is with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), who coordinates and helps over 75,000 volunteers assist veterans in need each year. You can check to see where the nearest VA hospital is and assist them with recreational programs or visit veterans. Another place worth investigating is your local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans (DVA), who rely on volunteers to help disabled veterans attain and maintain the standard of living that they deserve. Whether you’d like to help with transporting vets to the hospital for appointments, companionship, or simple yardwork, it’s all important to those who gave so much in the line of duty and their loved ones.

With so many charities and volunteering options, it allows you to find one that suits your skills, capabilities, and availability.

With so many charities and volunteering options, it allows you to find one that suits your skills, capabilities, and availability. For example, if you’re an animal lover, consider training a service dog for returning veterans. You can even volunteer for shorter periods of time to help socialize the dogs so they’re good pets, too. Habitat for Humanity also has programs specifically aimed at making housing affordable and increasing financial literacy for veterans. Other programs, like Hire Heroes USA, focus volunteers on helping veterans acclimate to returning to civilian life once they’re home. If you’re unable to help in person, many of these programs also accept donations, which help fund the efforts of volunteers.

Spending the Day with a Vet

If you know a veteran personally, you likely have a more intimate connection to the federal holiday. This gives you a unique opportunity to show your respect to someone who’s served our country. Take the day and spend it with them, doing what they want. Buy them a nice meal or have a great chat over coffee.

A few hours of nice conversation is a small price to pay for brightening the lives of a veteran!

Not everyone knows a veteran, but this doesn’t mean many of us can’t personally spend the day with a vet. Many retirement homes and skilled nursing facilities allow guests to visit elderly veterans, since these visits can be important to preventing senior isolation. Simply sitting and conversing with a vet may be enough to make a real difference in their life. If you have younger members of the family, bring them along so they can meet these senior soldiers and bridge the gap between generations. A few hours of nice conversation is a small price to pay for brightening the lives of a veteran!

Decorating the Markers of the Fallen

Another way you can show that our veterans are never truly forgotten is to volunteer to decorate grave markers of those who served. Many private graveyards will decorate the sites of veterans for Memorial and Veterans Day, but sometimes rely on volunteers to help, either by providing decorations or the required labor. You can also work with the VA and National Cemetery Administration to help beautify the grave markers of veterans. Decorations show that, even after they’ve left us, we still remember and honor the sacrifices of our soldiers.

Supporting Making It Central to Our Elections

Our final suggestion is a little abstract, but in researching this article, we discovered a movement that aims to fully reinvent and reinvigorate Veterans Day. The novel concept suggests folding Election Day into Veterans Day, making it a national holiday.

For many people, this would make it easier to vote and exercise their democratic rights. But, what does this have to do with vets? Well, without our brave veterans, we may not have those rights to begin with. By having Veterans Day be the day we practice our democratic freedom, we signify that, without our men and women in uniform, that freedom may not exist. This idea has been floating around for a while, and we thought it was a really neat way to draw a direct line between our rights as citizens and the sacrifices of our veterans.

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This year, help show our veterans that we haven’t forgotten them once they’ve hung up their uniform and returned to civilian life. The best part: You don’t have to wait for Veterans Day to do it! But, if you’re going to pick one day to give back to our vets, Veterans Day is definitely the best day to do that. Thank you to all our vets for your service and sacrifice from Medicareful Living!