Celebrating Heroes

Your Guide to Veterans Day 2018

Everyone loves a long weekend. Maybe you have plans to visit friends or family. Maybe you intend to just kick your feet up and relax. Maybe you don’t have an extra day off from work and aren’t getting too excited about this upcoming weekend. Whatever your Veterans Day plans, here is what you need to know about the holiday and why we celebrate it every year.

What Exactly is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day was established to honor all those who served in the military. It should not be confused with Memorial Day, which is celebrated in May and recognizes the profound sacrifices of those who died while serving in the military. You can certainly thank Gold Star families, those who have lost a military family member, and you should. In fact, you should do that at every opportunity that you have. Just know that Veterans Day is not technically about their sacrifice.

Veterans Day is observed on November 11 of each year. When that day falls on a weekday, communities often hold parades and other recognition ceremonies to honor veterans on the weekend prior to or after the actual observed holiday.

How Can I Honor Veterans?

Veterans Day is the perfect time to help a local veterans service organization in your area. Homelessness continues to plague the veteran population at an alarmingly high rate. Organizations to provide resources and skills to veterans in need can always use donations, volunteers, and support.

Many veterans, particularly those from the Vietnam War-era, appreciate shows of support and gratitude. Attending parades and other events can help them feel that their sacrifices are appreciated and recognized.

VA hospitals are often in need of good volunteers who want to take an interest in their patients. Elderly patients in particular are often left without frequent visitors. Veterans Day is the perfect chance to visit them, hear their stories, and show them that you care about their legacy. Just check with your local Department of Veterans Affairs about what they may need.

Special Deals for Veterans

If you are a veteran, thank you for your service. There are a multitude of companies out there who want to offer you special thanks this weekend.

The National Park Service is offering free admission to veterans on Veterans Day. It is one of just 4 days per year that park admission is waived.

Many Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Exchanges will run special sales during Veterans Day weekend. With prices that are often great deals to start with, the Exchanges are bringing even more deals to the military community.

Great Clips is offering free haircuts to veterans, as well as free haircut cards to all patrons to give to a veteran or military member. Sports Clips is also doing the same at many of their locations. A crisp haircut is a part of military culture (and required by uniform regulations). These retailers are doing their part to thank veterans by providing them with just what they need, free of charge.

Discounts at national retailers, such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, Rack Room Shoes, and others range from 10-20 percent. Some even offer these discounts year-round, with additional sales during Veterans Day.

Many local businesses run specials and discounts for veterans to show their appreciation to those in their community. Make sure to ask if there are any specials. Many will advertise as a way to show their thanks and support for their friends in the military.

Thank you to all those who have served. The sacrifices that you have made and continue to make do not go unnoticed. Happy Veterans Day!

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Katie Begley

Katie Begley is a US Naval Academy graduate and former Surface Warfare Officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education, and parenting subjects. Katie has worked in numerous communications roles for volunteer organizations and professionally for a local parenting magazine.

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