November 11th is a day that holds incredible meaning to many Americans, especially those who know someone who has served in the military or have served in the military themselves. While pretty much every American knows what Veterans Day is, not many people know how to actually celebrate it or what they can do to express their gratitude for veterans and their service.
Are you looking for a way to thank and honor the brave men and women who have served in the military? Try sending a military care package this Veterans Day.
The History Behind Veterans Day
Before we go deeper into how to celebrate Veterans Day, let’s take a look into the holiday itself and the history behind it. Unlike Memorial Day, which is intended as a day of remembrance to military members who have died, Veterans Day was designed to acknowledge veterans (both living and deceased) for what they have done for the country, in times of war but also in times of peace.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I. Though World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919, the Allies and Germany came to an armistice on November 11, 1918, which ended the fighting. Armistice Day became an official holiday in 1938 as a day of gratitude to the veterans of World War I.
Amending the Holiday
Despite World War I being known as the “war to end all wars,” World War II followed soon afterward. Following the end of yet another war, the Korean War, Congress amended Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to broaden the holiday to apply to all veterans, not just those from World War I.
Celebrating Veterans Day
If you personally know a veteran, you probably celebrate Veterans Day by wishing them a happy holiday and thanking them for their service. But you might be asking yourself, “Isn’t there anything more that I can do?” Likewise, for Americans who don’t know any Veterans, finding a way to celebrate Veterans Day might feel a lot less intuitive. And even veterans themselves might be looking for a better way to celebrate their holiday. So, what can we do?
Volunteer at a Veterans’ Shelter
Did you know that 9 percent of homeless adults are veterans? If you’re looking for a worthwhile way to spend your Veterans Day, volunteering at your local veterans’ shelter is the perfect way to do it.
There are numerous nonprofits with the mission to better the lives of veterans. In honor of Veterans Day to can make a donation (any amount matters) at a charity or nonprofit that supports veterans. Veterans Advantage considers the following to be trusted military and veterans service organizations:
- Fisher House Foundation — Provides free housing for military families at military and veteran affairs centers.
- Hope For The Warriors — Offers comprehensive support programs for service members, military families, and veterans.
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors — Aids those grieving the loss of a loved one who died as a result of military service.
- Give an Hour — Connects service members and veterans to volunteer mental health professionals.
- Vietnam Veterans of America — Advocates on behalf of veterans (particularly those who served in the Vietnam War) to create political change and adjust the public’s perception of veterans as a whole.
- United Service Organizations — Has over 200 centers worldwide with the focus of helping current and former service members and their families with a variety of programs and services.
- Semper Fi Fund — Serves all branches of the military with emergency financial aid and transitioning programs for veterans.
- Honor Flight Network — Transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials dedicated to them for their service.
- Bob Woodruff Foundation — Raises funds to support military members and veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, as well as related research, education, and training.
- Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation — Scholarship program for kids who have lost a parent in the line of duty (including combat casualties, military training accidents, service-related illnesses, suicide, and other military-related deaths).
- Operation Gratitude — Sends care packages and personal letters of appreciation to service members, first responders, veterans, military families, wounded heroes, and military caregivers.
- Operation: Care and Comfort — Assembles and ships care packages to units of deployed service members once a month until they return home.
Send a Military Care Package
Military care packages aren’t just morale-boosters for the troops (though they certainly do that, too)—they also provide service members with much-needed supplies and necessities. This is why sending a care package is such a valuable way to spend your time this Veterans Day. Whether it goes to an active member of the military or a veteran, your effects are sure to be appreciated by whoever receives your care package.
What to Put in a Military Care Package
Not sure what to put in your military care package this Veterans Day? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Food and Drink Items
Non-perishable and vacuum-sealed food and drink items are supplies that any service member will be overjoyed to find in a care package. Military units usually have very limited selections of snacks and sometimes service members only have MREs (meals ready to eat), which—though nutritious—aren’t always the most appetizing. These are a few popular snacks and drinks to include in military care packages:
- Snack bars (granola bars, protein bars, breakfast bars, energy bars, etc.)
- Trail mix
- Sunflower seeds
- Cheese sandwich crackers
- Ramen noodles
- Peanut butter
- Tea bags
Personal Care Products
Toiletries, hygiene products, and other personal care items are likewise greatly appreciated by service members—but if you can, try to find out exactly what they need before you buying and sending these kinds of supplies. In general, popular personal care products include:
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Shaving cream
- Disposable razors
- Baby wipes
- Lip balm and chapstick
- Tampons and menstrual pads
- Eye drops
- Foot powder
- Dryer sheets
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of things to put in a military care package, but entertainment is something everyone needs, even service members! These are some simple forms of entertainment that you can include in your care package:
- Books and magazines
- Journals and letter-writing supplies (pens, pencils, paper, stamps, envelopes, etc.)
- Board games
- Playing cards
- Comic books
A Note or Letter
Give your military care package a personal touch by writing a note or letter to thank your recipient for their service. It doesn’t have to be long—even just a short message can mean a lot to whoever opens your care package.
To All of the Veterans—Happy Veterans Day!
If you don’t know someone who’s in the military or has served in the military in the past, you might feel a little lost in terms of what to do for Veterans Day. Even if you feel like the military doesn’t affect you directly, it’s important to remember that we all benefit from its service and the sacrifices that its members make on a daily basis.
Veterans Day is the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude to any veterans in your life, no matter how close you are with them. To all of the veterans out there—thank you for your service and happy Veterans Day!