5 Ways To Do More For Vets Than Just Say Thank You

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldiers honor Vietnam Veterans during a “Salute and Welcome Home” ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, held Oct. 9, 2014.
U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Cody Quinn

This Veterans Day can go beyond the parades and troop-supporting bumper stickers and thank-you handshakes. It can be the day you decide to actually do something to honor those who have served in a meaningful and lasting way. There are plenty of ways you can take action to show your support for veterans, from making minor changes to your shopping habits, to committing time and effort to a worthy cause. Follow this handy guide and the next time you thank a veteran for their service, maybe they’ll thank you back.


Don’t just buy American, buy veteran.

You already buy stuff. Now you can buy stuff and put money right into a hardworking veteran’s pocket. Visit the online veteran-owned business directory and find large and small businesses sorted by area or by category. Make it a habit to check here before purchasing goods or services, and you’ll become a valued customer to a verified veteran entrepreneur. Also, veteran-owned businesses are more likely to employ veterans, so your purchase could be helping several vets at once.

Get involved with the Veterans History Project.

The Veterans History Project is a time capsule of first-hand military stories. It allows each participant to tell his or her story on audio or video mediums to be collected and preserved by the Library of Congress “so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”

You can volunteer to interview veterans and record their personal recollections. Each oral history you submit to the Library of Congress will become part of the collective portrait of historical conflicts. You’ll be giving vets a chance to tell their stories to the world. If you’re an educator, you can also use the resources the VA provides to get a whole group of students to participate.

Related: How To Thank Veterans For Their Military Service »

People view and listen to these histories both at the Library of Congress and through the online collection.

Volunteer at a VA hospital.

You probably know VA hospitals need a lot of help. Don’t just complain about it, strap on a blue vest and join the family of Red Cross volunteers who provide support to wounded warriors. You’ll directly interact with and assist people who served, many of whom have bled for your freedom. There is a personal satisfaction and sense of pride that comes from helping a hero, but if that’s not enough for you, there are also fun activities to do with recovering vets, scholarship opportunities for volunteers, and it looks great on a resume.

Go online to find your local Red Cross chapter by zipcode, call them up, and tell them you’re ready to help.

Sign up for Amazon Smile.

Amazon will donate to a veterans’ charity of your choosing if you shop through Amazon Smile. It doesn’t even cost you anything. Amazon will just donate a percentage of the purchase price for whatever you’re buying.

Offer your pro-bono services to the veteran community.

You’re probably good at something, so do that thing for veterans. There are organizations that help veterans with all sorts of services. Seek out the ones that speak to your skill set or interests and offer your expertise. A pretty good entry point for the veteran community is Code of Support, which lists a bunch of service organizations sorted by category.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.

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U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

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Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.

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Todd Rosenberg/AP

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