Veterans Day is a day set aside to remember and honor military veterans who have served and are serving our country. It is a celebration of gratitude for servicemen and women who willingly sacrifice and serve America near and far.
Veterans are heroes who share similar military lifestyles. They’ve been trained to serve and protect. Some have persevered through wartime, facing harsh and scary circumstances. Others have had comrades suffer injuries and maybe even die in combat. Many have relocated several times for service, enduring separation from family and friends. Surely, these things can be challenging and affect their long-term mental health.
Many veterans struggle with issues such as PTSD, increased anxiety, depression, and traumatic brain injury. Fortunately, veterans have many resources to help them with their mental health during and after active duty.
Veterans Day is an opportunity for all of us to offer gratitude and support to every veteran here and abroad. The following are some wonderful ways you can support veterans this year to let them know you care and appreciate them.
1. Spend Time At A Veteran’s Hospital
Make plans to visit a local veteran’s hospital and spend time with those who reside there. If there isn’t a veteran hospital in your town, check with assisted living homes to see if they have any veterans living there.
Listen to them as they share their life story. They may or may not talk about their military experiences. Either way, delight in the conversation and let them know how much you appreciate their service.
2. Mail A Thoughtful Card
Do you know some servicemen or women? Make a list of those you’d like to show appreciation for and mail them out a thank you card. Your appreciation and gratitude can boost their mood and help them feel validated and loved. Something as simple as mailing a card can really help someone feel valued.
3. Offer Thanks
If you’re out and about and see someone who is serving or has served in the military, offer them some verbal gratitude. Even just a simple “thank you for your service” can help them smile and feel appreciated.
4. Reach Out To Veterans In Your Life
There are plenty of veterans who tend to isolate. They may feel lonely and maybe even forgotten. They may be struggling with depression, PTSD, or another mental health disorder that makes life challenging.
Think about your extended family, friends, and acquaintances who have served in the military or are currently serving. Reach out and spend some quality time with them to celebrate their service.
Ask them if they want to talk about their experiences in the military. If they do, listen attentively, and affirm them. Thank them for their sacrifices for their country. It’s likely that by you reaching out to them, you will make their day. They will feel less lonely and more appreciated. This can make a huge difference in their lives.
5. Learn More About Veterans and Mental Health Statistics
To best support veterans with their mental health, it’s helpful to understand how they’re doing emotionally and mentally. The RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research reports that about 20 percent of veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or clinical depression. This makes a big difference in their everyday lives.
Acknowledge the reality of their struggle. Learn more from trusted resources, such as the National Veterans Foundation, as well as from veterans themselves. As you reach out and listen compassionately, you’re helping your family or friends feel seen and heard. This can be quite therapeutic for them.
6. Attend A Parade
If there’s a Veterans Day parade going on in your community, grab your family and friends and attend. Rally together with community members to honor and support veterans and their families. This is an easy and fun way to let veterans know they are not alone and that other people care about their service. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many parades are virtual, but you can still show your support online.
Do some research on various organizations that support veterans’ mental health. There are local and national non-profits that offer therapeutic services for any veteran who is struggling. By donating time and resources to such organizations, you help veterans get the mental health care they need.
As you celebrate Veterans Day, remember to acknowledge and honor veterans near and far for their courageous service. Decide on ways you can best show your support and follow-through, knowing that as you do, you’re making a difference.
About the Author: Jamie Sutter is the owner of Gentle Touch Assisted Living, which offers in-home care for elderly individuals struggling with age-related challenges such as Alzheimer’s and dementia or who require palliative care. Gentle Touch Assisted Living is based in Toronto, Ontario, in Canada.
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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.
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