Veterans Day 2016: Make It Special For Vets With Freebies & Fun For All!

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Make it a memorable Veterans Day 2016!

I know that you know me and how strongly I adore what the United States military does for us, so I’m (begging) challenging you to help me make Veterans Day 2016 the most memorable one for them yet. “How can we do that?” I hear you asking.  It’s not that hard, y’all!  I’ve got some ideas for us all…..

veterans day 2016

I’ve had many friends through the years say that they just aren’t sure how to show their gratitude to those who wear the uniform.  Is this how you feel?

No worries!

By choosing one or more of the following Veterans Day 2016 ideas, you can touch the heart of our hard working, sacrificial service members:

Show Up

Our local Veterans Day celebration is one of my favorite events during the year.  My community does an outstanding job at honoring our Vets and making them feel loved.  I always get choked up as I watch all of them stand for their branches of service – especially the older gentlemen.  I beg you ….. please show up to the Veterans Day 2016 celebrations, parades, or events closest to your area and take young people with you!

Open your Mouth – then Shut Up

I get it.  It’s awkward to just walk up to a stranger that just happens to be wearing a uniform and say something thoughtful without it being awkward.

Recently I made a commitment that when I see one in uniform or older fellas wearing the veteran hats, I would just go up and make a comment about their hat or ask about their branch of military.  Then I shut my mouth.  I let them talk.  I listen intently to what they are saying, and when they are done I will typically thank them genuinely for their service.

That’s it, folks.  Listening to their story and really caring about the sacrifice they have made or are making could be profound in their lives.  I wrote about one special encounter at the grocery store that has changed me forever.

I dare you to try it – especially tomorrow on Veterans Day , and for the rest of your life!

Open your Wallet for Food

I know that you realize that the sacrifices that military families make on a daily basis can’t be bought with paper money.  They will never ask for handouts because their brains and hearts are wired to serve, not receive.  Everyone has to eat, so a very kind gesture from civilians to military staff is to simply pay for their meal.  What’s even cooler is to pay for a meal secretly.

If it’s a fast food joint (a little tougher but doable) and you see an Army guy behind you, just hand the cashier a twenty and say, “Use this towards the fella’s meal behind me but don’t tell him who did it. Just give him the change if there is any.”  When he steps up to the cashier, it will be discreet and it will be a profound gesture.  If he orders more than twenty dollars, no worries, you still made your point and his meal is cheaper than he thought it would be.

A seated-style restaurant is a little easier because you can easily find the waitress for the Vet’s table and tell her that you want to pay for his meal.  Typically you’ll just go to the cash register and pay before he has any idea what’s happening.  This brings such a thrill for us and is a wonderful lesson for young people to witness.

Open your Time for Cards

If you are having a hard time catching military folk in restaurants or that just isn’t your style, why don’t purchase gift cards for $5, $10, $20, in case you see an opportunity to bless someone.  You can make this gift less awkward by thanking them for their service, handing them the card, and then walking away so that they don’t have to respond.

Other types of cards that would be a blessing are the ‘hallmark’ or homemade cards that are mailed to military bases in the U.S. or abroad.  You could send just a heartfelt card alone, or you could include a gift card as well.  Easy Peasy!  

Don’t miss this:  Operation We are Here is a fabulous online resource to figure out exactly who you would like to bless whether it be veterans on the homefront, post 9/11 wounded veterans, deployed veterans, etc.  Wonderful, amazing, fabulous!

Share fun & importance with youth

For the love of all things holy, please teach our young people why we honor the military, what they do for us on a daily basis and in the past, where they have to sacrificially live while serving, who they are (Dads, brothers, uncles, co-workers, etc), how they put their lives on the line every single day (now in danger just by wearing a uniform in the states!).

There are FREE Veterans Day 2016 coloring pages HERE and lots of fun free, printable activities HERE.  This great book about our nation’s landmarks is a great one to get for youth no matter their age:

Patriotic Monuments & Memorials

Bless their Wives, Moms, & Siblings

One of the hardest things to do is to tell your spouse, child, or sibling goodbye as they board a plane for military service.  It’s heart-wrenching, y’all!  As an employee to the country, you typically don’t have normal contact with them when they are gone, and often do not know any details of their well being for long stretches of time.

Do you know a spouse and possibly children left behind during a deployment?  Do you know a Mom who counts the moments until she hears from her brave, grown child again?  You would be such a blessing to the one serving our country to reach out to their families!  There are so many things you could do.

  • Send cards
  • Call them
  • Pray for them and let them know
  • Invite them to church & events
  • Order them a pizza
  • Buy the kids toys
  • Give them gift certificates to fun places
  • Unanimously mail money
  • Cut their grass
  • Invite them over to hang out
  • Just be there!

Put Arlington on your bucket list

Another thing I am very passionate about is Arlington National Cemetery.  If you have ever been, you know what I’m talking about without me elaborating any further.  It’s a special, sacred place, indeed.  The bodies of so many brave soldiers lie there and a tomb is guarded with the highest standard imaginable.  Please make sure the young people you know get a chance to experience it.  For most, it changes perspective forever.

Share this post on Social Media!!!

One way you can help tremendously is to share this post (to help others bless them too) and to also make sure all our Veterans know about all of the businesses that want to honor them on their special day!

This ABC site has a wonderful list of Veterans Day 2016 deals.  The Balance list includes those that want to feed our Veterans for FREE (woohoo)!  Operation We are Here shares a list that includes places that welcome the military for FREE!  Last but not least, here’s the official list from that includes all sorts of freebies for our nation’s greatest asset.

It’s great for us to read over the freebie lists too so that we will know which businesses truly support our Vets – which makes me want to support that business!  Amen?  There is so much more we can do but I wanted to get your mind working.  You could organize a celebration in your town, Take a Vet to School day, or make sure their stories aren’t forgotten with the Veterans History Project, or join up with DAV.

Here’s your to-do list, friend:

  1. Read this post
  2. Add your thoughts in comments
  3. Share this post on social media
  4. Share this info with youth
  5. Pick a few goals & just do them
  6. Saturate social media with Veteran photos & videos
  7. Love on those Veterans

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Let’s commit to blessing our Veterans all year long but to especially love on them this week for all that they do for us & be sure to share this so they know how much we cherish them!

veterans day 2016

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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.

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  1. Laura Roth
    November 11, 2016 / 4:17 pm

    Love this so much!!! I definitely want to buy a veteran’s meal–my kids will love that too!

    • Shan
      November 15, 2016 / 6:29 am

      This makes all the work that went into my post Absolutely worth every second to see you say that! Do it! You’ll love it.


  2. Brittany
    November 12, 2016 / 1:03 pm

    I love this! I wish I could have celebrated Veteran’s Day with my grandpa this year!

    • Shan
      November 15, 2016 / 6:28 am

      Awe, Brittany. I know. I wish I could tell my Daddy one more time how much I appreciate the sacrifices he made for his country. I wish I had listened to his stories from WWII and recorded them. Thanks so much for commenting.


  3. November 12, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    These are some great tips!! I can sometimes feel uncertain as to how to show my appreciation & these are so helpful! I definitely want to visit Arlington cemetery, too!

    • Shan
      November 15, 2016 / 6:27 am

      Thanks, Emily! I think a lot of people feel that way. Thanks so much for you kind words!


  4. November 14, 2016 / 9:06 am

    As a veteran and a military spouse, I love all these ideas you share. Thanks for supporting military families and for sharing at the This Is How We Roll Link Party.

    • Shan
      November 15, 2016 / 6:26 am

      oh my goodness, what an honor, Susan to hear that from you. I do love our military so very much and I appreciate you taking the time to leave your sweet comments.


  5. December 17, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    This is an awesome celebration. Long live the vets. They should be honored always.

  6. June 26, 2017 / 12:46 pm

    Great post! Showing appreciation for a veteran’s service can be as simple as thanking them, or as remarkable as sending a care package to a random soldier. Thanks for sharing!

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