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This Veteran’s Day, Simple Ways to Show Gratitude for Our Troops

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September 30, 2014

From our partner, Kate, The Shopping Mama

This Veteran’s Day, Simple Ways to Show Gratitude for Our Troops

The ten months from October of 2010 to June of 2011 were, without a doubt, the most challenging of my entire life. My husband was deployed and my kids and I were living in a “civilian” community far from a military base.

I needed support during that time more than ever before: My father was terminally ill, I was maintaining a home and large yard during a rough winter and I was trying to balance the usual challenges of mothering two young kids, all while my partner was away. In other words, I was living the life of a typical military spouse

While it was amazing to live close to my family during my husband’s deployment, it was terribly isolating to be a military family living removed from a typical military community. I realized during that time that military families like mine are well-versed in taking care of one another. We have, through common experiences, learned how to lend support and say thanks without being asked.

At the same time, we have learned to graciously accept displays of gratitude, knowing the act is often as meaningful to the donor as it is to the recipient. We know that people want to say thank you to veterans (and the families they leave behind at home), but don’t always know exactly how.

Here are five ideas to show your support and appreciation for veterans, active-duty service members and their families:

1. Get Social. Give a shout-out to a service member you know on Facebook. Tag her in a quick post to publicly give thanks for her service. That public display of pride means a lot.

2. Do a Random Act of Kindness. Surprise a person in uniform by paying for coffee, a meal or a tank of gas at the pump. If you want to remain anonymous, conspire with a waitress to have the dinner bill delivered to your table. Anyone will be delighted to be in on the good deed.

3. Send a Care Package. Create a care package to send to a deployed service member. Don’t know someone who is deployed? Send a gift to our troops and their families through the USO Wishbook.

4. Get Your Children Involved. They’ll learn the importance of showing gratitude. Ask your kids to send a thank you note to the troops at USOmoments.org and troops will see the messages at USO locations worldwide.

5. Simply Say "Thanks." Grand gestures are great, but honestly, all it takes is a simple thank you to show a veteran your deep appreciation and gratitude. Look beyond the obvious camouflage, because, as we all know, there is an entire generation of veterans who returned home to an absence of public thanks. Offer a genuine thanks to an older gentleman in a VFW hat or jacket. Or to a service member with a veteran’s organization sticker on their car. Taking the time to say, “Thank you for your service” speaks volumes beyond the words you utter.

Whether you are involved in military life every day or not at all, there are simple and very meaningful ways to show your appreciation for the brave voluntary military who serves you each and every day. Your words, gestures and acts of kindness mean the world to service members and their families. How will you say thanks this Veteran’s Day?

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