On Oct. 8, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Veterans Day Proclamation  [PDF 101KB] encouraging "widespread observance of this anniversary" and asking "all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry [to] join hands in the common purpose."
This Veterans Day, consider putting your words of appreciation into action by doing something meaningful for those who have sacrificed so much for our country. The Real Warriors Campaign urges everyone to get involved, even if you don't know any veterans personally. While a simple "thank you" is always a good way to show your support, below are more personal ways you can demonstrate your appreciation to those who have served.
Thank Service Members Who are Currently Deployed
- Send an ecard – Have a friend, relative or neighbor who has served or is serving? Use the American Legion  e-card to thank service members for all that they do.
- Organize an Operation Appreciation event – Blue Star Families sponsors Operation Appreciation  for community organizations, church groups, and families to encourage, thank and generally appreciate service members overseas. Download the information packet  [PDF 476KB] to find out how to start the operation in your school or neighborhood.
- Become a Soldier's Angel – Join Soldier's Angels  to "adopt" a service member , recommend a service member you know for adoption  or participate in group activities to care for wounded, deployed or returning service members.
- Send a care package, letter or email to a service member you to know. Visit the U.S. Postal Service's website for guidelines on sending mail to deployed service members .
Serve Veterans in Your Community
- Do something unexpected – There are so many meaningful ways you can show your gratitude and support to veterans in your community, like offering to rake their leaves, wash their cars or bring them dinner or dessert. This year, reach out to a veteran you know, or one you may not, and do something unexpected. These men and women have contributed and sacrificed greatly for our nation, so do something special for them in return!
- Drive a van – Disabled American Veterans  has established a transportation network for veterans at 172 medical centers across the country and the organization needs volunteers to drive vans to and from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics  to help veterans get needed treatment.
- Volunteer at a VA medical center or facility  – Like all medical facilities, VA hospitals, nursing homes and clinics need volunteers. Find out what you can do to help and make a difference!
- Coordinate a Veterans Day Discussion – Send a note to your local school to urge teachers include a discussion of Veterans Day in their curriculum. Be sure to pass along VA's Veterans Day Teachers Resource Guide  [PPT 2.27MB]. Another program called "Take a Veteran to School Day " brings veterans into schools to share their perspectives and oral history.
- Serve in a community service project with The Mission Continues  – Join your community in paying tribute to the sacrifices of our nation's veterans by participating in a service project in your community.
Serve the Unsung Heroes: Military Families
- Participate with Operation Homefront – Operation Homefront provides services to alleviate the direct or indirect burdens of military service on an individual or family. Read the organization's current volunteer opportunities , and check out specific family needs in local communities  across the country.
- Join Challenge America – Challenge America provides support to wounded service members and their families by connecting them with services and quality-of-life programs in their communities. You can volunteer your time , talent and ideas in support of Challenge America in your local community. Visit their website to find out other ways you can get involved .
- Volunteer with USA Cares – USA Cares  is a national organization that seeks to build financial stability and provide advocacy assistance to military families. Consider volunteering , participating in area events, joining a virtual committee or acting as an ombudsman.
- Give an Hour – If you are a psychological health professional, Give an Hour would like an hour of your time to help service members and their families cope with the issues they're experiencing as a result of deployments. Consider participating in this network of health professionals  seeking to respond to the needs of our warriors and their families.
Need additional ideas for ways to support deployed service members, veterans and military families? Check out the Real Warriors Campaign partners . These not-for-profit organizations share our mission and are working to make a difference.
Veterans Day is a great opportunity to do something meaningful for someone who served and shows a service member, veteran or military family that you care!