Labor Day might just be a day off from work for most Americans, but every year on Labor Day we’re called to celebrate workers across the nation and the contributions they’ve made to the wellbeing of our country — and we shouldn’t forget our military. Service members have been continuing to work, train and deploy throughout the pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk on our behalf.
Here are five ways to support the military and veteran community this Labor Day weekend:
Support military kids as school starts.
The Military Child Education Coalition helps military kids affected by frequent moves and deployments receive quality educational opportunities. Consider donating to their mission. If you know of a new military family in your school community, reach out to them. Even if you can’t get together in person, offer your help navigating the school resources.
Have a BBQ.
True Made Foods, a veteran-owned business that makes healthier, vegetable-sweetened ketchup, BBQ and siracha sauces is donating 10% of its national sales from September 3rd to September 7th to the PenFed Foundation. The donation will be used to help military members, veterans and their caregivers (so far, the foundation has helped 562 military families with COVID-19 emergency financial relief). I use their ketchup and my kids can’t tell the difference!
Find a Veterans Home near you.
Elderly veterans, like many in care facilities, have been especially isolated during recent months. Deliver care packages, cards or flowers to your local veterans home.
Support the homeless.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 40,056 veterans are homeless on any given night. And individuals experiencing homelessness are much more vulnerable to infectious diseases. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans needs funds, volunteers and items for their emergency shelters, especially as fall sets in. Several programs have also been developed over the last few years to ensure that homeless veterans receive proper burial with military honors. Go here to find out how you can help in your area.
“Adopt” a service member.
Send a care package through Operation Shoebox (you’ll be assigned to your own troop). It’s also never too early to consider “adopting” a servicemember for the holidays. It’s always difficult for servicemembers to see their families over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this year it will be especially hard, with travel limited. Consider reaching out to your local base to find out how to connect with those who will be alone this year.
Victoria Kelly is a former military spouse and the author of When the Men Go Off to War and Mrs. Houdini. She graduated from Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Find her at victoria-kelly.com.