Today is the 70th anniversary of V-J Day. If you don’t already do things that say thanks to those who sacrificed then and now, it’s a good time to start.
A little history: On August 15, 1945, Japan’s surrender marked the end of World War II. After a formal surrender ceremony was held on September 2, 1945, President Harry Truman declared the date V-J (“Victory Over Japan”) Day.
Unfortunately, since then, our country has participated in more wars, and we now have many more fallen soldiers, active service members and veterans to salute. These men and women, who have given so much of themselves in countless and unimaginable ways, deserve our respect, support and gratitude. Today, and every day, make even the smallest efforts to show how thankful you are for their bravery and sacrifice. Some veterans may feel less-than-appreciated and after risking their lives for others, they should never have to endure the lack of recognition. Show you care with these suggestions from CNN:
Give a veteran a lift
Volunteer to help vets get to their medical appointments, job interviews, and personal events (visiting, shopping, community meetings). Many vets struggle with physical and/or psychiatric disorders that may hinder their driving ability. Offer to give them a lift, and make them feel comfortable asking you whenever they need one. Tell others in your family and neighborhood to do the same.
Donate to veterans in need
Being a military wife on a strict budget, I would never want to see my family denied anything we need. Our “do unto others” attitude is why both my husband and I donate whenever we can. Check out VVA.org, Vietnam Veterans of America, and donate clothes, toys, electronics, kitchen items, bed sheets, towels. Anything is appreciated and everything counts. VVA will arrange to pick up donations from your home.
Purchase veteran-friendly holiday cards
Go to Puppies Behind Bars and buy holiday cards to make others smile and to support the cause. Puppies Behind Bars is an organization that trains prisoners to raise service dogs for veterans with PTSD. The adorable pooches are featured on the holiday cards. Purchasing these cards directly supports the program.Or you can make a direct donation.
Help build a special home
Unfortunately, too many severely disabled veterans return to their communities needing a place to live and adapt to new physical and emotional challenges. Homes For Our Troops holds fund-raisers and accepts donations to build homes for these wounded heroes at no cost to them. The residences are designed with features that allow each veteran to fend for his or herself and lead an independent life.
Help them off the streets
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down program assists homeless veterans in food, shelter, clothing, and health screenings and those facing unemployment. If you know of a vet who is homeless or in danger to becoming homeless you can visit the website or call 877-4AID-vet (877-424-3833).
I have learned that “care” packages and letters really do make a difference. Write a letter to a veteran, thank him or her for their service or just offer words of encouragement. Care packages are always valued. Who doesn’t like receiving a package in the mail? From new recruits to veterans – they all appreciate the kind words and thoughtful gifts.
Give veterans “honor and closure”
The Honor Flight Network helps veterans visit the WWII Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. You can volunteer your time and help the men and women who are traveling to see the memorial.
Share their stories
Every time a veteran tells of his or her experience of what they have been through, it is like discovering a new piece to a historical puzzle. If you know a veteran, find out his or her story, have them bring you back to a time they can be proud of. The Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project is collecting these stories to add personal flavors to the history books.
Show your gratitude
When you encounter an active soldier or veteran, say “thank you.” It’s a small gesture but it does mean something to them. Other than on memorial holidays, they don’t hear it as often as they deserve to. By writing a letter, sending a care package, helping someone travel to the VA or move into a new home, you’re making them feel appreciated and cared for.