Veterans Day is November 11, and that means one thing: All across Connecticut, people are celebrating America’s armed forces—the brave men and women who have fought for and defended our country.
And though we firmly believe that honoring our veterans shouldn’t be limited to a single day—as President Barack Obama said, “It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year”—there’s no better time to show your respect, gratitude, and support than on Veteran’s Day.
If you’re a Connecticut resident looking for some ideas about how you can show your support for local troops, take a look at our list below. Even if you’re not based in CT, you can probably adapt these ideas to the state you’re in. No matter how little, America’s veterans will appreciate anything you can give or do to.
Without further ado: Here are 6 ways you can support your local troops this Veterans Day:
1. Buy A “Support Our Troops” Connecticut License Plate
Whether you have a family member who has served, a friend, or you’re just proud and thankful for those who put their lives on the line to protect us, displaying a “Support Our Troops!” license plate on your car can be a great way to show your support.
When you purchase a Support Our Troops plate, a portion of the fee is deposited in an account that is used to provide funding for programs that assist Connecticut troops, their families, and veterans.
Plus, just think about how often you are on the road—and how many eyeballs will inevitably see the license plate. Displaying your support in such a public way will be great for raising awareness and boosting the morale of veterans who see that their service is respected.
Plates can be ordered at the DMV, or online by groups or individuals with a number of different options. It’s a small action that can have a lot of benefits.
2. Volunteer or Donate to an Organization that Supports Connecticut Troops
Buying a license plate is a great way to show your support, and it’s nice that a portion of the funds is donated to help the troops. But the simple fact remains that a fair portion of those funds are also eaten up to produce the plates, fund the DMV, etc. Those are funds that never make it into the hands of the veterans that truly need our monetary support.
If you specifically want to show your support by giving, then a better option would be to volunteer or donate to an organization that supports local troops.
In Connecticut, we’ve got two VA hospitals—one in Newington and one in West Haven. You can volunteer at both of them to help make the stays of veteran patients a little more comfortable, or you can donate.
According to the CT VA website, cash donations are used to make veterans’ lives more comfortable by purchasing hygiene products, refreshments, cable television, and recreational activities. Non-cash donations of magazines, coffee and snacks, new or gently used clothing, and telephone cards are also accepted.
3. Send A Message To Those Currently Overseas
A great way to show support to troops currently stationed overseas is to send them messages and packages. Letters are a great way to express your gratitude for their service, and care packages including comfort items (hygiene products, snacks to make them think of home, etc.) can go far in boosting morale.
This is also a great project for you to involve your children in. Get them involved by writing letters, drawing pictures, and expressing their support. It’s never too early to instill respect for our military in our children.
For security reasons, the military does not allow individuals to send letters or care packages directly to those serving overseas. Therefore, you’ll need to go through a government approved charity to actually get your packages to the troops.
If you want to send letters, a great charity to work through is Any Soldier, Inc., which helps connect people by email, letters, and packages with troops serving overseas who otherwise receive little mail.
And if you’d like to send donations or packages, you’ve got a lot of options including:
- Operation USA Care Package, which accepts monetary donations which it then uses to create and send care packages to troops overseas. (Companies can donate items in bulk to be included in packages)
- Army Emergency Relief, which is a website that refers readers to relief societies accepting donations for the armed forces
- Fisher House Foundation, which builds and funds something called “comfort homes” on the grounds or VA hospitals that help veterans be close to loved ones during treatment.
4. Lobby CT Politicians to Increase Funds For CT Military Support Programs
If supporting our military and veterans is important to you, and something that you believe our elected representatives should be pursuing, then you’ve got to make your voice heard. This means that you need to lobby our CT politicians so that they know that the military and veterans are important to us and deserving of our support.
The CT Military Support Program (CT MSP) is, for example, a program that was started to help members of CT’s National Guard and Reserve. This program was created in 2012 after CT residents made it clear to their representatives that they supported the program.
If you’re not sure who your elected officials are, you can find out a few different ways. If you enter your address into 270toWin.com, it will tell you all of your state and national representatives.
Facebook also offers a tool called “Town Hall” that will allow you to easily identify all of your elected officials, both locally and statewide. Use this tool to easily contact your representatives and ask them to increase support for programs like these and other initiatives that benefit the active military, veterans, and families of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
5. Embrace The Democracy They Fought For By Getting Involved
Many of those who volunteer do so to preserve the rights American citizens hold so dearly. A great way to honor those who served is to get involved with your local government, or to simply take advantage of your right to vote—a privilege many across the globe live without.
“When asked how someone should thank me for my service, I respond simply: Learn the Constitution, get informed, and vote accordingly,” said Brock Young, US Army veteran, Army National Guardsman. “Don’t allow the rights that veterans fought, died, and bled for, to be voted away or limited due to ignorance, laziness, or a sheep mentality.”
6. Thank the Veterans in your Life
We all have veterans in our lives—aunts, uncles, friends, or grandparents. While monetary donations are nice, and gift boxes let those serving overseas remind our service members that we’re thinking about them, few things matter more than a simple “thank you”—especially to the veterans in your life
As Army Veteran, Eddie Brooks put it, “When somebody knows that I’m a Veteran and they say thank you for your service I feel honored and know that they appreciate what myself and other Veterans who fought to keep their freedom established.”
Make it Happen
Whatever your preferred approach this veterans day, some sign of gratitude will go a long way in letting our veterans know that we value and appreciate their service and sacrifice.