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In November, and throughout the year, it's important to remind ourselves of the sacrifices that our active duty and former military members and their families have made for our country. Why not say “thanks.”  Salute their service and sacrifice with a safe, socially distanced gesture that shows them how valued they are? Here are a few ideas that you can do solo or with your community.

1. Write a note

Put your “thanks” into a letter or care package. Operation Gratitude has a digital postcard-writing initiative that lets you write a note online. The organization will print it on a postcard and deliver it with a care package to National Guard and active duty military members, as well as first responders and health care workers. You can also write letters directly to soldiers and veterans after you register with the organization. Soldiers’ Angels’ Letter-Writing team also has instructions on writing to deployed soldiers.

2. Consider a care package

Operation Shoebox collects frequently requested items and sends care packages to deployed soldiers. Collect items on your own or host a safe “drop off” drive with a community group or your house of worship. Contact your local Veterans Affairs hospital to inquire about letter-writing or email correspondence opportunities with injured or elderly veterans.  CAROLE: same about hashtag on packages?

3. Send a something you made

Want to add a personal touch? Join Soldiers’ Angels’ Sewing and Craft Team, which knits, sews, crochets, and quilts gifts for military members, like lap blankets for veterans in wheelchairs. The team also has a “baby brigade” team which creates baby blankets, booties, and other handmade items for baby showers for expecting military spouses. Don’t sew? That’s okay—they have a no-sew blanket project, too.  The organization has a number of other ways volunteers can support active-duty military, wounded warriors, military families, and veterans as well.

4. Be a voice for veterans

If you’ve got one or two social media accounts and a passion for helping our nation’s heroes, join the Virtual Volunteer Veteran Brigade and share content from the AARP National Team to raise awareness of the latest information supporting veterans, military members, and their families (VMF) - #AARPsalutesVets & #AARPVetsBrigade. You’ll share timely, vetted information with an emphasis on VMF age 50+ and work with the team to identify emerging issues for this important audience.

5. Raise a service dog

While many people have taken in foster pets during the pandemic, helping to raise a service dog is a selfless act that will help a veteran for years to come. Veterans Moving Forward’s Canine Team needs volunteers to help socialize and raise puppies who will become service dogs.

6. Help veterans find work

Like many others today, some veterans are actively looking for work. There are many ways you can help them find jobs. Invite them to visit the AARP Job Board and filter their search for “Veterans Wanted Jobs.” Hire Heroes USA has volunteer programs that let you use your experience to coach them in their career search, conduct mock interviews, or review their résumés.

7. Support a veteran’s organization

There are many organizations that provide outreach to active-duty Military members, Veterans, and their families. Your volunteer work with these groups can help them continue to serve those who sacrifice so much for us. For example, Veterans Moving Forward is looking for volunteer marketing help. To find out about socially distanced, safe opportunities to use your skills on their behalf, contact organizations like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Volunteers of America.

Ready to find more fulfilling volunteer opportunities? Find them here

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