Veterans pledged their loyalty to our country by serving in the military and fighting for our freedom. Whether it's a family member, friend, or a stranger, senior veterans are especially in need of support as their health declines and their resources start to diminish.
No matter where you live or how much time you can dedicate, there are several ways to honor a veteran who has spent his or her life protecting our values and democracy. Below are seven ideas on how you can show your appreciation to senior veterans:
Don’t Stereotype Veterans
It’s important to remember that not all veterans are proud of or want to talk about their service.
Before engaging with or helping a veteran, ask yourself if your actions might be perceived as intrusive or judgmental. Always receive permission before providing support or acknowledging their services through gifts or services, and don’t urge a veteran to share their story if they don’t want to. As much as possible, avoid helping veterans in ways that depend on assumptions. And if a veteran asks you not to do something, honor his or her request without being defensive.
Visit a Senior Veteran
While it may seem like a small gesture, simply taking your time to visit a veteran and ask about their time in the military goes a long way. Simply spending an hour or two with a veteran can make that veteran’s life better by reminding him or her that his or her sacrifice matters.
- Deliver Food to Veterans
Contact local food banks and delivery services to help deliver food to aging veterans. Programs like Meals on Wheels, a service that provides regular meals to seniors whose mobility makes it difficult for them to leave home to acquire food, is a great place to start!
- Say Thank You
The easiest thing you can do is simply saying thank you! If you’re out to eat and see a senior wearing a hat that says what war they served in, go up to them and thank them for their service. This small act of gratitude can go a long way.
- Attend "Honor a Veteran" Nights
Sporting events like basketball and baseball games, often salute veterans and active military personnel. Inviting an older veteran to attend a game and experiencing an arena or stadium full of standing, thankful fans show how their sacrifices haven’t gone unnoticed. It will also allow them time to sit with other military members and provide a new social group to bond with!
- Explore Discounts for Senior Veterans
Discounts are plentiful when it comes to veterans and active military. Seniors can enjoy discounts on restaurants and shopping, entertainment and leisure, or necessary services. If you have a senior veteran in your life, do some research to provide a list of discounts personalized to their taste.
- Volunteer Your Time
Want to directly help veterans and maybe get to know a veteran in need? Donate your time! Opportunities range from single volunteer days to long-term projects, ensuring there’s something for everyone. Time is the most valuable commodity you have, show you care by donating it to a veteran. Here is a list of organizations that support veterans.
- Make a Financial Contribution
Our busy lives can make it difficult to find the time to support an organization in person. If you’re still interested in supporting a specific veteran organization, consider making a financial contribution to one that works with veterans. Some great organizations to consider:
Honor Flight transports America's military veterans to Washington, DC to give them the opportunity to visit the memorials dedicated to their service and the service of their friends.
Vietnam Veterans of America is a national non-profit organization that advocates for Vietnam Vets through legislation, community support, and local and national events that recognize veterans from all service eras. VVA's mission is to ensure that Vietnam Vets get the care and respect that they have earned.
Download Home Care Guide
Veterans often struggle through the years, particularly as they age. Connecting with a senior veteran and showing appreciation, from inviting them for a friendly cup of coffee to driving them to the doctor, can make a positive impact in their lives.