How To Thank A Veteran This Veterans Day With More Than Empty Gestures

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Veterans deserve more than empty gestures one day a year.  Amen? Oh, I know you mean it when you say, “Thanks for serving,” on Veterans Day.  I do too – but shouldn’t we do more?  They certainly don’t want to be put on a pedestal, but most civilians do WANT to do more for our military.  My challenge for Veterans Day 2017 is to put some action to our words in simple ways. Here are fabulous ideas to REALLY thank a Veteran this week and the whole year!

fabulous ideas to REALLY thank a Veteran for Veterans Day!

How to thank a Veteran – for real

If you want to join our family in getting your own fam involved in some meaningful action, pick one or more of the “how-tos” below.

Slip them a surprise

As you thank a Veteran for their service with a handshake, slip a gift card into their hand in one smooth motion.  Here’s the important part:  turn and walk away before they have to respond! Simply buy a couple gift cards with small amounts of cash or restaurant/store credit on them (to places like McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Starbucks, or Walmart).

Too much?  You can thank a Veteran by sending an Exchange gift card that can be used by those who are deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, and other contingency locations.  These gift cards, e-gift cards, or calling cards can be addressed to particular soldiers or sent to any service member.

Ask them questions and then listen

Veterans know that civilians don’t really have a clue what their life has been like – and that’s OK.  They love it when people ask them questions about their lives and/or prior service.  I’ve found this to be especially true with the older gentlemen, and they’ll chat about it as long as you’ll listen!  I found that out one day when met one in the organics aisle.

Pay for a meal or dessert

There are many ways to go about this and have fun with it while being discreet.  1) Pay for service member behind you in the drive-thru. 2) Ask your waitress to discreetly let you pay the bill of a military member near you in a restaurant.  3) Order and pay for a special dessert for a table of military folk as you leave the restaurant.  It only counts if you keep it anonymous!

Find Veterans group or organization

Volunteer or donate to the military organization that you like the best.  Some of my favorites are the Gary Sinise Foundation, Operation Homefront, and the USO.

Buy things from Veterans

Buy what you would normally buy anyway – from a Veteran-owned business because it is a win-win for everyone.  Check out sites like this one to find out which are Veteran-owned businesses.

Share your knowledge

People don’t know what they don’t know, right?  This is especially true for the younger generation.  My kiddos have grown up with practically every man on both sides of the family serving in the military.  Our oldest joined the ranks himself.  Some families aren’t full of military folk, though, so here are some things to share with them.  It’s so important that the young ones understand, “What is a Veteran,” and how to say, “Thank you, soldiers!”

Share freebies

Check out all of the businesses that want to honor our military AND Veterans Day Events that your family (even if civilian) may want to attend:


What do you plan to do special this year to thank a Veteran?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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Published on HuffPost and Okefenokee Living Magazine and other publications, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist and lover of all things ‘calm & cozy home.’

She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about southern family destinations and creating cozy homes they can’t wait to go home to.

Her hope is that overwhelmed women feel like family travel and cozy home gurus in their own right.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️



  1. November 7, 2017 / 6:16 pm

    these are all such great and thoughtful ways to honor our veterans!

  2. November 7, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    I love this list. So often I want to do something for veterans but wanted to come off sincere. Sometimes taking and listening is just perfect!

  3. November 8, 2017 / 7:52 am

    These are such wonderful suggestions! Thank you so much for making this important list. I am definitely going to do as many as possible.

  4. November 8, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    These are great ideas! I always wanted to surprise another family by paying for their meal and doing that for a veteran would be awesome.

    • Shan
      November 8, 2017 / 2:15 pm

      Yes, me too, Ayanna. I watched others pay for meals of others. We tried it on vacation for cops in a diner we ate at. It was so fun. We see military walk into our restaurants all the time and figured it’s time to put some emphasis and love on them! 😉

      much love,

  5. November 8, 2017 / 2:46 pm

    I love this. I try to, whenever possible, by a veteran (or group in uniform) a meal!

    • Shan
      November 8, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      Yay, Rachel!!! That makes my day. God bless you!

      much love,

  6. November 8, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    These are really lovely and thoughtful ideas!

    • Shan
      November 8, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      Thank you so much, Teresa. Just from my heart…

      much love,

  7. November 8, 2017 / 3:17 pm

    Thanks for these suggestions!

    • Shan
      November 8, 2017 / 3:54 pm

      Thanks for reading!!!

      much love,

  8. November 10, 2017 / 7:19 am

    These are really great and useful ideas. Sometimes we want to say thank you but have no idea how to. This is helpful.

    • Shan
      November 10, 2017 / 8:36 am

      Thank you so much. Makes my day!

      much love,

    • Shan
      November 10, 2017 / 11:25 am

      Wonderful, Leslie! I have not heard of this. It just might be my new favorite!

      much love,

  9. November 10, 2017 / 9:00 pm

    These are all great ideas – and so meaningful! I really think the ask and listen is important and something that we often forget. One of the best gifts is the gift of time – just sitting with someone and listening can be so important.

  10. November 12, 2017 / 5:30 am

    What wonderful suggestions on ways to honour veterans. It’s so important to show appreciation to those that have sacrificed so much in order to keep us safe and fight for our freedom x

  11. Lauren
    November 12, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    This is a great and thoughtful list! Thanks for sharing!


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