Theme Your Cookout to Maximize Memorial Day

After you call, visit or #memorialize your favorite #veteran(s) on Memorial Day, a cookout is the perfect way to launch the summer with family and friends. To make it truly memorable, give your gathering a festive theme, The Spruce suggests. Good menu options include Southern barbecue, craft-beer tasting, hot dog/burger bar, and (for maximum potluck potential) “You bring it, we grill it.” Add some outdoor games such as cornhole, croquet or badminton to work off those cookout calories, and let the summer fun begin! #MemorialDay

Celebrate Wreaths Across America Day With VVA

Saturday, Dec. 18, is now officially Wreaths Across America Day thanks to the passage of a Senate resolution introduced by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. It’s the first national recognition of a movement that has been active for three decades, placing wreaths on the graves of veterans nationwide during the holiday season.

“We have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms,” Wreaths Across America (WAA) says. “In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. There is no better time to express our appreciation than during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.”

Wreaths Across America began 30 years ago when Maine wreathmaker Morrill Worcester delivered 5,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia as a gesture of thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting their country. This year, a convoy of Gold Star families, veterans and well-wishers will transport 12 truckloads of wreaths to the national cemetery, making stops at multiple events along the way.

“For those who have had the opportunity to participate in the escort of wreaths over the years, it is truly an experience of a lifetime,” says Karen Worcester, WAA’s executive director. “This year, we’re hoping that supporters will once again join us in lining the roadways safely and welcome the mission into their communities.”

If you can’t make it to Arlington or a location along the convoy route, consider joining one of the more than 3,100 Wreaths Across America events to be held across the country on Dec. 18. Vietnam Veterans of America chapters help stage many local WAA functions each year as part of their civic fundraising efforts.

“Wreaths Across America is a powerful demonstration of respect and appreciation for our veterans — both those that we’ve lost and those still with us,” Sens. Collins and King said in a joint statement. “We are so proud that this heartfelt expression of gratitude originated in our great state and has become an enduring symbol of our nation’s gratitude for veterans’ valor and sacrifice.”

Visit Wreaths Across America to find out more, sponsor a wreath or get involved at the local level. Visit VVA on the web to find out about nearby chapter initiatives and #donate. And consider #donating to ClothingDonations.org this holiday season. The nation’s #veterans and veteran families appreciate the recognition and support. Happy Holidays!

What Your Donations Do for Veterans

If you’ve donated clothing and other household items to ClothingDonations.org in the past, you may be aware that your stuff helps fund programs that support veterans throughout the country. But do you know how, and what your donations fund?

When you give the things you no longer need, the Vietnam Veterans Association (VVA) resells them in bulk to partner thrift and secondhand stores, where other people can shop for great deals on lightly used stuff.

VVA takes the proceeds and uses them to underwrite range of programs. On the national level, the association helps veterans tap government benefits and health care guaranteed to those who have served, and lobbies on behalf of veterans in the nation’s capital.

Aware that war can have challenging health effects for decades after a deployment, VVA offers outreach programs to veterans suffering from Agent Orange exposure, homelessness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.

It offers programs targeted to POW/MIAs and their families, minority veterans, women veterans, and justice-involved and jailed veterans. In other words, it is a comprehensive, wraparound service organization operated by and dedicated to Vietnam veterans.

As Vietnam veterans have aged and the country has continued to engage in overseas conflicts, VVA has expanded its mission to welcome veterans of all U.S. conflicts. “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another” is its motto.

VVA programs are supplemented and supported at the local level by the organization’s more than 500 chapters nationwide. The chapters use some of the money raised through ClothingDonations.org to host educational and social events, honor veterans, and give back to their communities through parades, scholarships and sponsorships.

Last month, for example, dozens of VVA chapters celebrated National Vietnam War Veterans Day on March 29, hosting luncheons, memorial observances and educational programs around the country to thank veterans living and dead for their service.

While donations to ClothingDonations.org don’t pay for the entirety of the programs VVA offers, the money raised eases the organization’s fundraising burden while providing you — the loyal readers of the Organizing Blog — with an easy, earth-friendly way to get rid of your unwanted stuff.

The nation’s veterans appreciate every donation, and thank you for your support!

Honoring Military Service on Veterans Day

To honor the military for Veterans Day, get creative, Veterans United says. Send care packages and handwritten letter to active-duty troops around the world. Visit a VA hospital to learn about a veteran’s time in the service. If you’re a teacher or parent, develop a lesson or activity based on Veterans Day and invite a veteran to speak to the class. Wear a red poppy — even though this has become more associated with Memorial Day, the tradition started with Veterans Day. Shop at local veteran-owned businesses, or (if you already have too much stuff), donate to ClothingDonations.org.

Celebrities Who Served Their Country

The U.S. Census says there are about 18.8 million veterans nationwide, and about half are now over the age of 65. Many people served long before they were famous, Military.com says, including Johnny Cash, George Carlin, Steve McQueen and Morgan Freeman. Some of the most most famous Vietnam veterans are Colin Powell, Oliver Stone, Dennis Franz, Al Gore, Pat Sajak, Roger Staubach, John Kerry, Jesse “The Body” Ventura and of course, John McCain. Take a moment of silence to recognize all veterans — famous or not — on the nation’s 99th Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2018.