2003.11.18 – hug a soldier

Veteran’s Day. One of those holidays that tends to be overlooked by the population at large. If you work in a professional career you most likely had the day off. In the malls we are drawn to the idea that Veteran’s Day simply means sales. If you watch primetime television you will see at least one commercial detailing the “one day only” sale at Sears or JCPenney.

Is this what Veteran’s Day should be about?

Should we be shopping or mourning?

The best way to observe this day may be to spend time with a Veteran. If you know someone who fought for *insert country here* (which you certainly should) give them a hug and a thank you. Let them know that no matter what your political beliefs might be you are still proud of the men and women who had the courage to fight for our collective freedom.

Here are a few stats to take with you on your journey and keep in mind that without soldiers none of us would be free to do as we please. I am not advocating war. I am merely praising those who had the courage to help out during times of conflict. With that in mind, these statistics are shocking and sad.

23% of the homeless population in America are veterans. Of that 23%, 47% of them are Vietnam era vets, 17% are post Vietnam and 15% are pre Vietnam.

89% of those homeless veterans received honourable discharge from the service.

23% translates into 529,000 to 840,000 individuals nationwide.

Disturbing. How can we have this many men and women in need who fought for the rights of a nation of consumer consumption madness. After all, Veteran’s Day is one of the biggest sale days of the year. The freedom to shop and consume is something not necessarily extended to the homeless. At least not the idea of conspicuous consumption. So how do we make a change?

I propose that this holiday season, rather than buying tons of presents for people that they may or may not enjoy, we band together as a nation and attempt to help those less fortunate. So, in the spirit of giving I have compiled a list to give you a few ideas of holiday cheer that you can spread through actions this winter season.

Volunteer at your local mission or shelter
Providing food and monetary donations is always helpful, but actually giving of your time and efforts is even better. Hell, do both, it couldn’t hurt.

Donate old clothes and other items to your local AmVets
Organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army are quite helpful in the community and are both worthy or your donations. The reason I suggest donating to AmVets is the obvious connection to Veterans. The money that is acquired from the sales at AmVets is put directly into funds to support veterans. Much like other donation centers the donation helps twice. First by giving a cheap alternative to those less fortunate shopping for warm clothes and second by putting the proceeds back into the veteran community.

Give directly to a homeless Veteran
What do you do with your leftovers? If they are not eaten within a specific amount of time most leftovers are thrown away. In our household the extra food that is left at the end of the meal is kept in fridge and given away. One individual loves my homemade mac & cheese, so I am sure to give him the extra helpings each time I make it. This is one of the best ways to know that someone in need is actually receiving your donation.

Spend time with an Older Veteran
The best gift that can be given to anyone is the gift of friendship. If you know of an old timer that is one his/her own, spending time with them could be just the thing that makes this holiday season brighter. Veterans tend to have fantastic stories too, so you can never be bored chatting with them!


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