For the elderly men and women who have served in their country’s armed forces, this experience is often one of the very greatest points of pride in their lifetime—and rightfully so. Serving in the military is a self-sacrificial act that involves leaving behind their home, family and loved ones, and everything they know to fight for a greater cause. Though some senior veterans may have dementia that clouds their daily life today, they likely still have vivid memories of their time serving their country.
Honoring Our Senior Veterans
Throughout the year and on Veteran’s Day in particular, honor the older veterans you may know or care for with these tips.
- Say “thank you.” Simply saying “thank you” to an elderly veteran who has served in the armed forces goes a long way. And don’t forget to thank his or her family, who also undoubtedly sacrificed a lot. If you have a business, use your sign to share a special “Thank you veterans!” message for the holiday.
- Wave the flag. Proudly display the American flag outside your home or business for Veteran’s Day—or all year long. And offer to hang a flag for the older veterans in your life.
- Listen to their stories. While it may seem like a small gesture, simply taking your time to ask a veteran about their time in the military goes a long way. Ask an elderly vet, “What was your favorite memory from being in the military?” or “How did your military service impact the rest of your life?” Then, really listen to their stories and consider making recordings for future generations or for local archives.
- Share with your kids. Teach your kids, nieces, and nephews the history of Veteran’s Day. Make sure they know which family members served in the military, as well as neighbors and friends, so they can thank them and ask about their stories.
- Treat them to a meal. Take the elderly veterans in your life out to lunch or deliver a home cooked meal to them. Drop off some homemade patriotic-themed cookies as a fun surprise.
- Attend a Veteran’s Day parade. Odds are, there’s a Veteran’s Day parade happening in your area. So, check out your town or city’s local events website or Facebook page for a parade to attend that honors veterans. If he or she is able, bring your loved one with you to join in the festivities.
- Organize an event. Plan a Veteran’s Day event. Hold a dinner or host a veteran speaker at a senior center, retirement community, or elementary school. Help to publicize the event so that attendees of all ages can share in the fun and education.
- Take to social media. You just never know who may be “listening” on social media, including elderly veterans. Change your Facebook profile photo to a patriotic image such as the American flag, a bald eagle, or a yellow ribbon. Post a heartfelt “thank you” explaining what those who have served our country mean to you.
- Check out Operation Gratitude. Contact Operation Gratitude with your senior veteran’s contact and service information, and he or she will soon receive thank you cards from strangers.
- Lend a helping hand. Offer to mow a veteran’s lawn, rake leaves, or drive him or her to a doctor’s appointment. They may need a helping hand, but are hesitant to ask.
- Support veteran-based legislation. Use your vote to help veterans of all ages continue to receive the care and support they need in civilian life. Help ensure that our country cares and honors all veterans for years to come.
Little Gestures Speak Volumes
As you’ve seen above, most of the ways that you can honor elderly veterans this November are small gestures—things that you can complete in an afternoon or perhaps even a few minutes. But, they go a long way to care for seniors who have served our country. Don’t forget to show your appreciation this Veteran’s Day, and all year round!