Veterans pledged their loyalty to our country by serving in the military and fighting for America's freedom. Whether it's a family member, friend or complete stranger, senior veterans are especially in need of support as their health deteriorates and their resources (such as nearby family or money) start to dwindle.
Take a little time to show gratitude for their service by gathering your family together and devoting your time weekly, monthly or each Veteran's Day to support these special seniors. Something as simple as letting a service member -- in or out of uniform -- ahead of you in an airport line shows a little appreciation for their sacrifices.
Visit a Senior Veteran
Seniors in assisted living facilities or nursing homes almost always welcome visitors, and veterans are no exception. Lend an ear to a lonely veteran and you may get a first-hand account of American history.
Deliver Food to Veterans
Contact local food banks and delivery services to help deliver food to aging veterans. Your local Area Agency on Aging is a great place to start.
Visit Wounded Service Members
Contact veterans hospitals in your area to inquire about visiting hours, then spend time with wounded service members. Bring a senior veteran with you -- they will be able to and offer friendship and encouragement as only a fellow service member could. The visit will be both nostalgic and therapeutic. A little of your time could be the greatest gift of all.
Attend "Honor a Veteran" Nights
Sporting events, like basketball and baseball games, often salute veterans and active military personnel. Inviting an older veteran to attend the game is a small, personal tribute. An arena or baseball park full of standing, thankful fans proves veterans' good deeds don't go unnoticed.It will also allow them time to sit with other military members and provide a new social circle to bond with -- an often difficult task. For more ideas on how seniors can increase their social circle, check out our article on Seniors and Social Life »
Explore Discounts for Senior Veterans
Discounts abound when it comes to veterans and active military. If you own a business, offer one. Seniors can enjoy discounts on restaurants and shopping, entertainment and leisure or necessary services. If you have a senior veteran in your life, do the research to provide a list of discounts personalized to their taste. Visit our article on 20 Discounts for Veterans as a jumping off point.
Contribute to Your Local VFW
With budgets that support local VFW's being slashed, service members returning home from multiple tours of duty and senior veterans who need continued support, it's more important than ever to support your local VFW organization (Veterans of Foreign Wars). The VFW protects those who protect us, and all the freedoms we enjoy. Have a neighborhood fundraiser and show how much you care.
Start a Support Network for Senior Veterans
Get your family and friends together and start a support network for senior veterans in your neighborhood. Encourage everyone to check on them regularly, take them out for a meal or invite them to your home to share some time and stories.
Veterans often struggle through the years, particularly as they age. Connect with a senior veteran and do everything from inviting them for a friendly cup of coffee to driving them to the doctor. Helping a veteran get out and tell his or her story will touch the vet's life and many more ones. The end result will be a stronger community for all.
Kelly Johnston is a freelance writer living in Washington D.C. Her work can be found here.