You may not be a veteran or active service member, but chances are you know someone – a friend, colleague, or family member – who has served or is serving. To honor service members and veterans, the month of May is designated as National Military Appreciation Month. There are several ways you can thank a veteran or service member this month.
National Military Appreciation Month History
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately seven percent of Americans are veterans. To thank all service members, active and retired, Congress assigned May as National Military Appreciation Month. While most people are familiar with Memorial Day, you may not know there are several other days in May dedicated to the sacrifice veterans, active service members, and spouses make for the United States.
Events During National Military Appreciation Month
There are designated weeks and days throughout the month recognizing the invaluable work and sacrifice those connected with the military or public service perform for the United States. The first day of May sets the tone for the month with Loyalty Day. Congress declared May 1st as a day to remember the country’s belief in freedom and encouraged people to pledge loyalty to America. Furthermore, the first week of May recognizes the sacrifice of military members and veterans, as well as public, local, state, and national level employees, for their work throughout the year.
Other important days include:
- Military Spouse Appreciation Day: This day honors the encouragement and support spouses give to their loved ones. The sacrifices military spouses make for their country are immeasurable.
- Victory in Europe (VE) Day: VE Day remembers the action war heroes and heroines performed to help the Allied Forces make Germany surrender unconditionally during World War II, which ended the war on the Eastern Front.
- Armed Forces Day: Other holidays in May recognize former or fallen service members. However, Armed Forces Day focuses on the bravery of active military members.
- Memorial Day: On this day, the country remembers those in the Armed Forces who lost their lives defending and serving the United States.
10 Ways to Honor Veterans or Active Service Members
You can thank a service member or veteran by participating in activities that recognize their duty to protect and serve America. If you don’t know where to start or how to honor them, though, a few ideas include:
#1. Visit and Volunteer
Visit or volunteer at an organization for veterans or service members. Whether you go to a VA hospital or your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), find ways to help. For example, you can ask a person at the VFW if there are veterans or service members (or their families) that need help with the yard or household chores.
#2. Donate to a Nonprofit
An internet or community resource search will guide you to programs that help those in or out of the military. Your donation could help house, feed, or provide access to mental health treatment. Funds that help veterans or service members begin therapy for mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety can also address substance addiction.
#3. Send Care Packages
Whether you send a package overseas to an active service member or your local VA, your kindness can brighten someone’s day.
#4. Support Veteran-Owned Businesses
Shopping at a local, veteran-owned small business helps a veteran and the community. You can also use social media to heighten your friends’ and family members’ awareness of the company.
#5. Listen to Stories
Spending time with a service member or a veteran is another way to thank them. While with them, ask them to share their experiences if they’re comfortable talking to you about their time serving.
#6. Learn the History
Visit a local battlefield, for instance, Gettysburg, and learn its history. If your town or county has a historic military site, find out more about what occurred during its use.
#7. Hold a Candlelight Vigil
Ask the VA, VFW, or the community to participate in a candlelight vigil to honor those who gave their lives to protect and defend the United States.
#8. Honor a Loved One
Set aside a day to thank a family member or friend for their service. Alternatively, you could buy them a gift or make something for them. Be creative!
#9. Perform Acts of Kindness
Don’t forget the power of random acts of kindness. Do something that will help or cheer a service member, spouse, or veteran – but don’t tell anyone. While it is difficult for some not to share their activities on social media or with loved ones, try to keep it to yourself.
#10. Offer Your Babysitting Services
Ask your friends or family members if they would like to have a date night or spend time alone with their spouse. Babysitting is a meaningful way to say “thank you for your service.” If they don’t need a babysitter, ask them what you can do to help.
Honoring the service of those who served or are serving is a way to say “thank you.”
There are many ways to participate in National Military Appreciation Month in May. From volunteering to donating, your acts of kindness are immeasurable. Take the time to listen to those who want to share their stories. If you know of someone who wants help for a mental health or substance addiction disorder, help them find a substance addiction treatment center that offers treatment for mental health and addiction. Because service to the United States can include traumatic events or difficulties transitioning into civilian life, some service members can turn to harmful habits. However, an addiction treatment center like Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers honors their service and sacrifices to protect and defend America. Our men’s only programs and alumni group provide the safe space needed to share stories and emotions. We’re here for you. To find out about our programs, call (801) 308-8898 today.