Observing Vietnam Veterans Day Safely

March 29 is National Vietnam War Veterans Day — an opportunity to remember the 9 million American men and women who served in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during U.S. involvement in Vietnam from Nov. 1, 1955 to May 7, 1975 — some 6 million of whom are living today.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and hundreds of partners will continue the special 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War that launched in 2012 this year. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VA recommends remembering veterans with socially distanced community activities from March 25 – March 29.

“This is an opportunity for all Americans to recognize and thank our Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice during one of America’s longest wars,” the VA Blog says. “Outside of these dates, we should remember that we can always thank and welcome home Vietnam veterans any time of the year.”

While in-person events are challenging to stage safely, the VA invites well-wishers to reach out to Vietnam veterans who live in remote areas, are physically unable to attend commemorative events or are living in nursing homes with a thank-you card, call or Zoom conference.

Honor Flight organizations are working with VSOs to create Honor Parade routes in many communities. These outdoor events pass by veterans’ homes at a safe distance to protect them from the spread of the coronavirus. Vietnam Memorial walls will also appear in many locations — many of them supported by VVA chapters nationwide. Here’s a short list of commemorative events.

Hundreds of observances will take place, and the VA urges participants to celebrate and honor veterans safely. Many events get some funding from your generous donations of lightly used clothing and household goods to ClothingDonations.org.

So clean out a closet and #donate; call, text or write a veteran; or take part in a safe, socially distanced event to thank a Vietnam veteran for their service. They will appreciate the consideration on National Vietnam War Veterans Day — or any day of the year.

More Ways to Help Veterans Ahead of the Holidays

If you didn’t get the chance to celebrate Veterans Day before the weekend, now is a great time to visit a nearby veterans cemetery to put flowers, a wreath or a miniature flag on a grave — or help volunteer to tend to some of the graves before winter sets in. You can also adopt a veteran family for the holidays or make a donation to the Vietnam Veterans of America and ClothingDonations.org to help veterans in need during the holidays. They will appreciate your thoughts any time of year.

Ask a Veteran About Their Service

Happy Veterans Day! While in-person visits to the VA hospital may be restricted this year, you can still thank a veteran with a phone call, letter, or email. And if you know a veteran personally, today is a great day to ask them about their service, Military.com says. Ask what they did while in the service, how long they served, and what their favorite memories were from that time. If the veteran you know saw combat, however, be aware that some questions may bring back bad memories — be supportive, not intrusive.

Celebrate Veterans Day at the Proper Distance

There are a lot of ways to celebrate Veterans Day, but with COVID-19 being a risk to so many elders, you should probably do so at a comfortable distance. Some cities will still hold Veterans Day parades on Nov. 11 if you wish to don a mask and attend in person, according to Military.com; or you can live-stream the New York Veterans Parade and other virtual events from your laptop or smartphone. Either way, you can celebrate the men and women who sacrificed to keep the country free and safe. #ThankAVeteran

Thank a Veteran for the Three-Day Weekend

Lots of people get Veterans Day off, making 2019’s observance into a three-day weekend. You can use some of that extra time to visit a retired veteran in a retirement home, or write a letter to a current service member. You can volunteer to help a veteran neighbor with their fall yardwork (as this blogger plans to do), or weed out some of your old, unused clothing and household items and donate them to ClothingDonations.org, simultaneously helping fund veterans programs around the country while streamlining your space. However you choose to observe the holiday, the nation’s veterans appreciate your support!