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Yes, Veterans Day is a national holiday on which we honor those living among us who have served our nation. (Memorial Day is for honoring our military members who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our country.) 

Yes, we march in parades, observe moments of silence, and write articles of tribute like this. 

And yes, it is a time to feel patriotic and think about the men and women who wake every day to protect our freedom and contribute to the same for other people around the world. 

Here are five ways you can make Veterans Day special for a veteran this year: 

1.    Reach out: Connect with family members and friends who served to thank them. A text is nice but turning it into call or video message would be even better. Ask them about their military experience and how they want it to be part of their legacy that others should know about. The Love Always Project helps people have those meaningful conversations

2.    Volunteer: Talk to your employer about volunteering for a nonprofit serving veterans or visiting a veteran’s home or VA hospital. Too many veterans are alone on this day, with families living far from where they do. The time you spend with these veterans will be most appreciated by them and long remembered by you. 

3.    Donate: Make a financial commitment to a veterans nonprofit. There are many to consider, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, which provides support for transitioning to civilian life, assisting with service people who have disabilities, and veteran suicide prevention. Every dollar helps, and you can make a real difference. If you’re passionate about helping veterans, you might consider naming a veterans nonprofit as financial beneficiary of your estate through planned giving.

4.    Help the homeless: Too many veterans find it nearly impossible to overcome the challenges of their military experiences and find themselves homeless. Reach out to homeless shelters or veterans associations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and ask what they might need to support their efforts. Blankets, food and shelter are commonly in short supply. 

5.    Use social media: Use your profiles to spread the word about veterans and remind people about the importance of honoring veterans on this special day. It’s easy to change your cover or profile photo and share your thoughts or a story about a veteran in your life. Websites like A Veteran’s Story of Courage and Honor: True Stories of Strength, Triumph, and Inspiration are examples of stories about Medal of Honor recipients and books telling of veterans’ experiences. 

It’s also important to capture the stories of the heroism of our veterans before they pass on. At The Love Always Project, we believe that by accepting, embracing and planning for death, we can ease the pain of friends and family while providing a final chance for connection. Learn more about our mission and join the movement. 

If you know a veteran in crisis, don’t hesitate to call the National Veterans Suicide Prevention hotline. To connect with a Veterans Crisis Line responder anytime day or night: Call 988, then select 1. Or text 838255 to start a confidential chat. If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 800-799-4889.

Dean Lambert is founder of The Love Always Project a movement created to promote discussion about end-of-life issues, provide expert information and encourage people to preplan and pay for their funeral as the ultimate act of love for those they will leave behind.

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