A SALUTE TO OUR MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES
by Susan Shabacker
ABOUT ARMED FORCES DAY
Armed Forces Day will be celebrated on May 18, 2019 this year as a special tribute to the servicemen and women in the Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
In 1961, John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday as a time for the nation to come together to honor the lives of those who serve in our military. We owe these honorable men and women a huge “thank you” filled with true gratitude and support for helping us stay safe, secure and protected.
In addition to Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (May 27th) is set aside to remember and appreciate the lives of our military heroes who have passed away, but who live on in spirit and memories, and Veterans Day (November 11th) also honors the brave men and women who have served our country.
APPRECIATE, SUPPORT, AND GIVE BACK
There are many ways to reach out to servicemen and women and veterans to express your gratitude. Try writing a loving letter filled with gratitude, support, and encouragement. Recording your words on paper can mean the world to a veteran or someone actively serving in the military.
More of an orator? Prefer speaking? Record an audio clip of your special message and send it electronically or put it on a CD to mail out. You can text, email or post an audio recording and, if you have musical talent, you can dedicate an original song as a special tribute. You can post your song on one of the music playing platforms, such as Reverbnation.com, Bandcamp.com, or Soundcloud.com. You could also distribute your song online to a paid site such as Cdbaby.com or Distrokid.com and order download cards or physical CDs.
If you enjoy baking, homemade treats to share with troops are always welcomed. If you’re a knitter, handmade blankets are appreciated. Or how about sending calling cards and other utilitarian gifts to use and enjoy?
Invite a service member over for a home-cooked meal. Make them feel included, special and appreciated. Or you could deliver food to them for a much-needed break from cooking. Offer to clean and straighten up their abode or run errands. The goal is to make their lives easier and more enjoyable. Help them feel truly loved, appreciated, honored and supported.
If you are a good driver, offer a vet a ride. Take them to a job interview or to get groceries. You could make an excursion and drive to the mountains, lake, or beach, where they can hike, picnic, or camp out for a change of pace and scenery.
Don’t overlook or underestimate the benefits of reaching out by communicating through social networking. Offer to conduct a search to help someone in the military or veteran find a job.
Offer to watch over their house and babysit, even if just for an evening, so they can have a peaceful, quiet night alone or with their spouse.
Provide a temporary foster home for a pet of someone in the military and take good care of their pet while they are away. If you have a friendly pet, bring it over for a visit. If they have a dog, offer to take their dog for a walk or bring it to the park to play.
PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE DOGS FOR PTSD
More than a third of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans already have or will experience PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), so help support their lives by sponsoring a companion or service dog. Patriot Rovers (patriotrovers.org) is a local NC organization that honors heroes by training Psychiatric Service Dogs to aid veterans with stress, anxiety, seizures, and PTSD. Puppies Behind Bars is a program where prisoners train companion dogs for assisting veterans. Donors who sponsor a dog can get updates about their training.
However you choose to thank, appreciate and support the lives of those in the military and those who have served, remember to reach out and go out of your way as much as possible to make a positive difference.