Senior veteran saluting American flag

Veterans Day: 5 Ways Family and Friends Can Honor a Senior Veteran in Their Lives

Since 1938, Veterans Day — called Armistice Day until 1954 — has been an occasion for honoring and celebrating the men and women who’ve taken an oath to defend the United States. If you have an older loved one who’s a veteran, you may be wondering what you can do to honor their service and help them commemorate the day. Here are some suggestions for ways to honor veterans — the ones you know personally and the 18 million other former members of the Armed Forces in the U.S. today.

1. Participate in a Moment of Silence

On November 11, at 3:11 p.m. — and at comparable times across the nation’s time zones — a moment of silence is observed. The Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act, signed into law in 2016, invites Americans to observe two minutes of silence in honor of the nation’s veterans. Simply joining your loved one to honor this poignant moment can be a powerful way to acknowledge their service and that of so many others.

2. Support a Veterans Charity

Consider collecting donations from family members and giving the money to a veterans organization in your loved one’s name. There are more than 40,000 charities that support members of the U.S. military. Here are a few that may inspire your philanthropic efforts:

  • Freedom Service Dogs of America partners people, including veterans with PTSD, with custom-trained assistance dogs.
  • Puppies Behind Bars provides service dogs trained by inmates to veterans, as well as to first responders and police departments.
  • Honor Flight Network honors veterans with an all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s memorials in Washington, D.C.

To find other reputable organizations that support veterans and their families, look at Charity Navigator.

3. Write Letters

Sending a simple greeting card can be a meaningful way to honor the veterans in your life. You can also expand your letter-writing efforts:

  • Send mail to active service members to offer encouragement and appreciation. If you don’t know any active military personnel, you can sign up through Soldiers’ Angels to receive the address of deployed soldiers who’ve registered to receive mail. Then team up with the senior veteran in your life to compose a friendly note.
  • Join the Soldiers’ Angels Cards Plus Team to send cards to deployed service members, veterans, and their families.

What should you say in a letter to a stranger? Offering a friendly greeting, introducing yourself and telling stories from your everyday life are good ways to make a connection.

4: Send a Care Package

Commemorate Veterans Day by gathering with your loved one to put together a care package for a deployed soldier. Include items like high-quality socks, lip balm, deodorant, puzzle books, beef jerky, playing cards, colored pencils and protein bars. Contact the local VFW to find out if there are service members from your area who could use a pleasant surprise in the mail. Or donate money or popular care package items through an organization like Operation: Care and Comfort.

5. Hear Their Stories

One of the best ways to honor a veteran is to ask them about their service. Encourage them to tell their stories and, if possible, record what they say. Or suggest that they write down their memories themselves. You can help prompt their recollections with the following questions:

  • What motivated you to join the military?
  • What are you most proud of about your time in the service?
  • How long did you serve?
  • What was your favorite moment during your time in the service?
  • What was your role?
  • What did you learn from your experiences?
  • What other stories do you have to share?

Of course, you can honor a veteran best by letting them take the lead in what they talk about and respecting their need for privacy if there are stories they don’t want to share.

Honoring Veterans at The Chesapeake

The Chesapeake retirement community finds ways to honor veterans year-round through programs like the Veteran’s Honor Benefit. To learn more about this program, or about our rewarding lifestyle, on-campus wellness opportunities, and cook-from-scratch approach to award-winning dining, contact us. We’ll be more than happy to answer your questions or help you schedule a visit.