How To Show A Veteran Your Appreciation
No one knows better than a veteran that actions speak louder than words: ideas on how you can show your gratitude for our veterans.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
-- John F. Kennedy, U.S. president and World War II Navy veteran
A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Nick Lanier wore the camouflage green, tan and gray of a U.S. Army uniform for 13 years.
During that time, he was often approached in airports, restaurants and shopping malls by strangers who shook his hand and thanked him for his service.
He recalls feeling somewhat awkward and unsure of how to respond. Nonetheless, as most veterans, he appreciated both the individual gesture as well as the public's increased awareness of the sacrifices of servicemen and women that it represented.
Lanier is finishing his final semester at Saint Leo University as a political science student. The medically retired combat veteran, who is also a husband and father of four daughters, has served as the first president the Student Veterans of America (SVA) chapter at Saint Leo – the SVA's 1000th chapter.
During his tenure as SVA president, Lanier has worked hard to contribute to the university's more than 40-year commitment to educating military servicemembers. With plans to pursue a doctoral degree, Lanier intends to continue to serve – and be a voice for – fellow veterans in higher education. It's his way of showing his appreciation for their service, as Kennedy said, by how he lives his life.
For those of us looking for some tangible ways to express our own gratitude for the sacrifices of our nation's veterans – and those currently serving in active duty – here are just a few suggestions.
There are countless worthy organizations that help veterans, including those who are injured or homeless.
Of course, veterans agencies and national organizations are always in need of financial support, but you'd be surprised at the variety of things that could be put to good use for veterans' causes, everything from new and pre-owned DVDs to used clothing.
For example, At Saint Leo, veteran students studying on-ground or online who face an unexpected financial hardship find assistance through a veterans emergency fund. In addition, through the Movers for Military Program, the Saint Leo community at University Campus partners with Two Men and a Truck to collect essential care items and deliver them veterans at local shelters on Nov. 11.
According to Lanier, perhaps the most basic, yet most powerful, thing you can do to express your gratitude is to simply talk with a veteran.
"Vets tend to be highly motivated and goal-driven. We appreciate order, and we may also have a slightly ‘unusual' sense of humor," he says. "Because of our experience, we have a different perspective on life than other people. We don't sweat the small stuff."
Other than that, Lanier says, "Most of us are just like you. We just happened to have served in the military. And as fellow human beings, nothing means more than relationships and personal connections."
That's why Lanier encourages people to simply reach out.
"If there's a vet in your class or at work, ask what it was like to serve. Be a listening ear. This is especially true for our older veterans. Go to a VFW Hall and listen to what these true heroes have to say," he says.
"Make a personal connection just by starting up a conversation."
Please share your thoughts and ideas for showing our military heroes our gratitude.
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Image Credits: Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com; Saint Leo University Communications; and courtesy Nick Lanier