What can you give back to a Veteran to thank them for their service?
Memorial Day is one of my favorite days in my quintessential American hometown. It starts with a parade and if you’re 5 minutes late, you might just miss it. The shiny red firetrucks, the dogs in star-spangled bandana collars, the high school band playing patriotic tunes marching down Main Street followed by the community gathering on the lawn of the local American Legion for speeches and gun salutes all made the challenge of getting 5 kids up and out the door by 8am on a day off from school well worth the effort. To me, rallying my troops in order to teach them the true meaning of Memorial Day and honoring our US troops, past and present, was a sacred duty as a mother and as a citizen.
Like many Americans, honoring our Veterans with appreciation and respect comes out of personal conviction and a proud family tradition of service and sacrifice. When I lived in Germany, it was important for me and my daughters to make a pilgrimage to the shores of Normandy and the French village of St. Lo where my uncle was killed after D-Day in July of 1944.
My Granny lived to be 102 years old and her dying thoughts were of the heavenly reunion with her lost son killed at the age of 18 years old in WWII. My own father served in Korea and last Fall, he was brought to tears, like countless other Vets, given the chance to make their own pilgrimage to Washington DC as part of the Honor Flights program. I’m also proud to say that within our extended clan, the heritage of service continues with the younger generation in active or recent duty in the Navy, Air Force, and Marines.
But there is more we can do to pay deserved respect to the brave who served us, our country, and our freedom.
As we enjoy the 3-day holiday weekend across the United States, perhaps cleaning out garages, opening up cottages, getting boats in the water, hauling kids to soccer games, or firing up the grill and making sure the cooler is filled with iced beverages, look around your abundance big or small and see what you can spare and share with Veterans Outreach — a national organization to help returning Veterans get back on their civilian feet and establish post-service households.
Tragically, Veterans are among our nations highest and at-risk demographic of homelessness. Men & women go off to war or cold war enlistments with little else besides a backpack. When you’re not sure of a return trip home alive, traveling light through military life is not only recommended, but required.
This is where you can help. According to Jeff Gustin of Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin located in Racine, “There are programs to assist returning Veterans to obtain housing, but not to furnish it. Most Veterans return from service with very little of their own. This is where Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin comes in. We accept your donations of household goods and furnishings, then deliver them to veterans and their families.”
Veteran and volunteer at the Racine Veterans Outreach, Joe Briere also said as our guest on Tamara Leigh’s TREND ON on the Linked Local Network. “We supply them with anything from beds to silverware. We are able to help them with as much or as little as they need to create a comfortable home. We have also started a food bank,this way we can stock them on food to get started when they move in.”
Audibly choked up, Joe shared on the show that “These Veterans are so appreciative, you can’t believe these tough men and women get teary-eyed because through donations, Veterans Outreach can provide real help. One young father was so moved because he could set up bedrooms for his daughters with mattresses, bedding, and dressers. He was able to give them a home after being away from his little girls while in service. The courts required him to have these arrangements in order to get divorce visitation. He was so relieved we could help him.”
If you’re hitting the malls for Memorial Day sales — please pick-up extra items that can be donated or gift cards that Veterans Outreach can put into the hands of Veterans and their families. Stack up unused dishes, dust off spare dressers, then call a Veterans Outreach location near you to get them to our Veterans. These small acts by grateful citizens translate to huge help for our Veterans.
“Our freedom is not free,” reminds Jeff Gustin. “A Veteran paid for it in more ways than we can imagine.” Give back. Show appreciation in a meaningful way with action. Call 1-262-221-8350 for more information. Veterans Outreach of WI is also in urgent need of a truck donation for delivering donated items as seen on The Morning Blend.
Special thanks to friend of Tamara Leigh’s TREND ON Neda Stevic, Ambassador for Veterans Outreach of WI, model citizen extraordinaire, and beautiful woman for connecting us.
You can also find this blog post on my website TamaraLeighllc.com.