Veterans Day started as Armistice Day when, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, WWI officially ended in 1918. Armistice Day celebrates the armistice signed between the warring countries of the “Great War.” In 1971, Veterans Day became a national holiday to celebrate and honor all military veterans who have served for the United States Armed Forces.
This Veterans Day, let’s take some time to thank veterans for their service to the United States. Here are some ways you can honor your local veterans at home or through the community.
Take action to let a veteran know your appreciation.
If you know a veteran:
- Listen to their story. Be respectful and sympathetic, and ask for a veteran’s story. According to military.com, people are often too intimidated to ask veterans about their choice to serve. This is an opportunity to learn what the challenges and rewards are of serving the military.
- Send them a card. Let a veteran know you appreciate their service to this country. The Wounded Warrior Project can connect you to a veteran if you do not personally know one.
- Thank their family. A choice to serve in the military does not just affect the individual, but their family as well. Spouses’, childrens’ and parents’ lives are significantly changed. Let a family member of a veteran know you appreciate their commitment.
Support a veteran-owned business. Don’t know any? Here are some major businesses started by veterans:
- FedEX, which was started by Frederick Smith who served four years in the Marine Corps.
- Sport Clips was founded by Gordon Logan and his wife. Logan served in the Air Force.
- Sperry Shoes was founded by Paul A. Sperry who was in the Navy Reserve and ultimately invented the world’s first boat shoe.
Attend an upcoming event for Veterans Day.
- Rush Medical Center Virtual Celebration for Veterans. Join the Rush Medical Center on November 17 in this virtual benefit to support the Road Home Program. The Road Home Program provides mental health care to veterans.
- Attend the Kids Rank Foundations: A Conversation event. On November 19, Kids Rank, a program aimed at military and veteran children, will be hosting their first of 12 events dedicated to military and veteran youth mental health.
- Give back to the Midwest Veterans Closet. The organization, partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Pantry, is doing a food pantry pop up on November 9. Tell a veteran you know or donate directly to the cause.
- Participate in the Homes for our Troops Fourth Annual Celebrity Auction on EBay. Proceeds from this event, from November 10 through 17, will go towards Homes for our Troops. The organization builds and donates custom homes for severely injured post 9/11 veterans. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston are among some top celebrities who have donated items for auction.
Give back to veteran-aiding organizations.
- The Road Home Program is a program by Rush Hospital. The Road Home helps provide mental health care and wellbeing to veterans and their families. The program is free and does not look at discharge status.
- Disable American Veterans (DAV) has more than 1.2 million members involved in helping wounded veterans and their families. The organization has an abundance of services and resources like disability assistance, VA pensions and job programs.
- Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) provides rehabilitation, activities and career counseling for wounded veterans and their families. You can support the WWP in a variety of ways, including hosting a Supporter Event or making a donation.
- Bunker Labs is a non-profit organization aimed at helping military and veteran individuals and families jumpstart a business idea. They connect “every entrepreneur in the military” to ensure that each person has the resources and tool they need to start a potential business.
Despite Veterans Day coming around once a year, remember to give your thanks to veterans year round.
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Cindy Mei is an intern at Better. Currently in her senior year of college at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Cindy is moved by strong storytelling about personal identity and culture. She is an avid fan of the works of Anthony Bourdain, Alex Kotlowitz and Jenn Fang.
Cindy is a proud alumna and supporter of After School Matters, a non-profit organization that offers arts and leadership classes to Chicago high schoolers. She also encourages support for Think!Chinatown, a New York City based non-profit that fundraises for Chinese businesses in Manhattan’s Chinatown.