At Medals of America, we pride ourselves on offering products that work to recognize and honor the service that America’s veterans undertook for their country.
We also recognize that finding the perfect way to honor your favorite veteran, whether on their birthday, Veterans Day or any other special holiday can be a challenge. After all, what sort of gift do you give to someone who has seen, done, and accomplished so much in their lifetime?
This is why we’ve put together this guide to help you find the perfect military gift to show the veteran in your life that you appreciate and recognize their sacrifice–today, tomorrow and always.
1. Donating to a worthy cause
Despite the diversity of jobs, positions, and branches found in the U.S. military, there is a common characteristic that can be said of every single American veteran: selflessness.
In trying to find the perfect military gift for your favorite veteran, follow their example and pay it forward with a donation to a worthy veterans’ cause. Various charities and organizations in the U.S. advocate for and act on veteran support initiatives.
While some are general and offer standard financial, medical and emotional services to our country’s veterans, others target their attention on specific issues that plague our country’s servicemen and women. Some of our favorites include:
Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
With its more than 1.2 million members, Disabled American Veterans is an organization that offers substantial help to disabled veterans and families of disabled veterans in the form of various acts of service.
In fact, according to the initiative’s website, they were able to help more than one million veterans and families in 2018, with more than $20 billion in claimants’ benefits, 625,000 rides to medical appointments and 212,640 disabled veterans’ claims represented through the support of donors.
For those who would rather offer services than funds, the organization provides multiple avenues to giving back to our nation’s service members, including vehicle donations, advocacy programs and volunteer opportunities.
Wounded Warrior Project (WWP)
The Wounded Warrior Project focuses on the difficult rehabilitation and recovery process that many of our nation’s finest face after being wounded during active duty.
WWP offers these rehabilitation services, including veteran activities and career counseling, to help wounded warriors get back on their feet and actively engage in civilian society.
Though the WWP does accept one-time donations, you can also support the project in various other, more offbeat ways, including writing letters of support to wounded soldiers who are in recovery.
The initiative encourages donors to get others involved in charitable giving by hosting a supporter event at the office or school. These can include office competitions and parties to raise awareness and funds for the WWP.
Homes for Our Troops (HFOT)
One of the major hardships overlooked in the care of wounded veterans is their ability to re-adapt to their homes after incurring debilitating injuries throughout their service. Often, home renovations and adaptations that allow, for example, accessibility and ease of use of a wheelchair throughout are costly and inaccessible to veterans.
The Homes for Our Troops initiative raises funds and builds specially adapted and designed custom-built homes for post-9/11 veterans who have suffered injuries and can no longer easily and efficiently function in their home. This includes servicemen and women who have suffered amputations, paralysis or severe traumatic brain injuries.
More than just offering veterans a home, HFOT restores an injured veteran’s sense of capability and independence and allows them to regain their prior sense of autonomy and freedom.
United Service Organization (The USO)
While giving to your favorite veteran, don’t forget about your favorite active duty troops.
The USO, supports and strengthens America’s active duty service members through initiatives that allow them to stay connected to family members throughout their service.
This includes their Operation Phone Home®, a program that allows you to sponsor a $50 prepaid international calling card for a soldier, which can pay for up to 140 calls home during their tour of duty. You can also elect to sponsor a soldier treat package and send servicemen and women overseas some of their favorite treats and snacks.
For many members of the military, bragging about the incredible accomplishments and sacrifices they made throughout their military career isn’t part of a service member’s M.O. This can be for many reasons, from memories that are perhaps too fresh or painful to talk about to the sense of duty that embodies America’s veterans.
Whatever the reason, it isn’t likely that the former military personnel at your office often have their accomplishments recognized–but you can change that.
Consider adding a column to the weekly internal newsletter at work that highlights the accomplishments, experiences and successful transition story of one of the veteran employees you work with. Conversely, you could also hand out salute packages–small gifts and gift certificates with a handwritten note–to veterans on military awareness days throughout the year.
This is not a handout to veterans. It is a simple and effective way to reinforce the fact that veterans add value to your company.
3. Set of custom dog tags
After re-entering the workforce and civilian life, many vets can easily feel alienated and find it challenging to become reacquainted with life away from the barracks. One way to recognize and honor the fact that their military career may be behind them but is always with them is with a set of custom dog tags.
While the standard military-issued dog tags are certainly classic designs, at Medals of America, we believe that veterans should never have to settle for basic or standard when it comes to something as important as a dog tag in representing their military career.
Perhaps your favorite veteran lost his or her dog tags during their service, or they prefer to keep them safely on display in a shadowbox rather than risk losing such an important memento through daily wear.
If that’s the case, consider ordering them a set of high-quality, custom dog tags in their favorite metal, style and color so that others recognize who they are as a veteran. You can also choose from designs that show their loyalty to their specific branch of service or their dedication to their faith.
Customize a set with up to five lines of whichever information is important to them as a vet, or a special message from yourself, their parents or their children inscribed into the tags to have with them at all times.
4. A meal for a military family
When an individual enlists for a military career, they are not just signing themselves up for a life of military involvement. They also make decisions on behalf of their spouses, children, parents and siblings.
Contrary to popular belief, the sacrifice and continual adjustment to military life for military family members does not end when the service member retires from his or her military career. At this point, a military family is still adjusting to new circumstances, new surroundings and possibly extenuating circumstances, such as injury or emotional trauma.
Show the military family in your neighborhood some support by bringing them a (freezable) meal. This serves as a gesture of goodwill between neighbors but also shows you recognize the sacrifice that military personnel and their families make for their country and that you are willing to return the favor through small sacrifices of your own.
5. Showing up
Make and hold genuine plans to attend veterans’ events that raise awareness and financial support for veterans in your community.
These can be anything from raffles and silent auctions that benefit veterans’ charities to veterans’ parades that show community appreciation for the veterans in your neighborhood.
While it may not seem as impactful as donating to support veterans, showing your support by attending a veterans’ parade does make a difference to former military members. It shows them their service is still appreciated, long after they’ve retired their combat boots.
Attending veterans’ events with your family is a great way to instill a sense of respect for America’s armed forces in young children and allows you to come face-to-face with real American heroes.
After all, in the words of Roy Rogers, “We can’t all be heroes, someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
6. A military gift for veterans by veterans
No one knows veterans like veterans. This is especially true when it comes to finding the perfect military gifts to honor a veteran’s service. It is one of the many reasons that you should consider buying your next gift for your favorite vet from a business that is proudly vet-owned and operated, like Medals of America.
As a vet-owned business, our mission at Medals of America has remained the same for more than 40 years: Honor the service, honor the sacrifice.
That is why we offer a selection of gifts and products that helps you recognize and honor the active duty, retired and veteran service members in your life. This includes everything from military medals and ribbons that strictly follow the guidelines set by the Institute of Heraldry to hats, dog tags, challenge coins, tactical gear and much more.
In addition to offering products that serve veterans, we also actively recruit and hire veteran employees for our business in recognition of the incredible impact and value that veterans lend to the institutions they work for.
7. Visiting a VA hospital
If you are unable to offer financial support for our nation’s veterans, consider offering your time instead by visiting or volunteering at a VA hospital in your area.
But don’t make it a once-a-year event! While most VA hospitals will certainly have open volunteer opportunities on Veterans Day that allow members of the community to get involved with dinner events that benefit veterans, they also offer programs that will enable volunteers to start a buddy program with a veteran patient.
If you elect to take part in veteran companion programs, listen and approach conversation with a sense of decorum. While some veterans may not wish to discuss their military past, others may readily take to the topic. Some appropriate questions include:
- What branch of the military did you serve?
- How long and when did you serve?
- Why did you choose to enlist?
Remember: It is never appropriate to ask ex-service members direct questions about the death or destruction they witnessed during their service. It is best to act as a sounding board for discussion. Sometimes, there is no need to say anything, as veterans simply need someone to talk to.
8. Flying your flag correctly
One great way to show that you proudly support military members and veterans today and every day is by properly flying the American flag at your home or place of work.
But remember, flying Old Glory isn’t just about throwing the stars and stripes up in the most convenient way to you. There are rules and regulations laid out in the Flag Code that should be followed when hoisting and lowering the flag.
As written in the code itself, “No disrespect should be shown to the Flag of the United States of America.” Handling and displaying your flag incorrectly is, in fact, disrespectful to the very ideals that the servicemembers you are looking to honor spent their entire career defending.
The final word
In recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of your favorite veteran, keep in mind that doing so is not relegated to a once-yearly occurrence such as Veterans Day.
Just as former military service members themselves are always military service members, we must continually show our appreciation for the sacrifices made for our sake by members of the American Armed Forces.