My first memories of celebrating Veterans Day are from elementary school. In my tiny hometown of Bruceton, TN, we had an awesome celebration each year to honor veterans in the area. Since our school had kindergarten through 12th grade in the same building, the entire school attended the program. I have such fond memories of the Veterans of all ages who came for the program. They were so proud to have served our country and were always adorned in at least part of their uniform from time served whether it be a shirt, hat, or medal.
Since my boys are not around soldiers or veterans on a regular basis, I started thinking about how to best explain the meaning of Veterans Day to them. My boys totally think anyone who gets to wear camouflage and a carry gun is the coolest person in the world, but I want them to know that these men and women have sacrificed much and continue to sacrifice their lives for the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy today.
Here are some organizations and facilities in Memphis that serve Veterans, and I am sure there are more to add to this list. Let’s get involved and include our children in these efforts to help those who have sacrificed so much for us and help our kiddos understand what being a veteran really means.
- Forever Young Senior Wish Organization is based in Collierville and honors our military veterans aged 65 years and older by sponsoring trips to return veterans to where they fought, and they provide an avenue for sharing their stories of sacrifice with others. The organization has proudly honored hundreds of senior veterans who fought in WWII and the Korean War through trips to Washington D.C., Normandy, and Pearl Harbor. Additionally, the organization holds monthly meetings for veterans, and the organization needs donations and volunteers.
- Barron Heights Transitional Center is located in downtown Memphis and its mission is to provide the support our veterans need to transition into a healthy and prosperous life. Their services include medical referrals, vocational counseling, budget planning, substance abuse recovery, recreation, and many support services after completion of the program.
- Alpha Omega Veterans Services is located in Memphis and offers many ways to get involved. There are fundraising and volunteering opportunities, and you can also sponsor a veteran. A $35 donation will help one veteran for one day receive a safe and stable place to sleep, food, clothing, toiletries, and services to help veterans rejoin society.
- Memphis VA Medical Center is a national leader among hospitals for Veterans. You can sign up to become a volunteer and there are a number of needs that they have for their patients listed on their web site. They are in need both monetary and non- monetary donations.
- West Tennessee Veterans Home is raising money to build a facility to serve veterans in Shelby, Tipton, and Fayette counties. They have selected a preferred location in Arlington, TN but still need to raise funds to continue the project.
- University of Memphis Veterans Resource Center supports all veterans, active duty military, reservists and National Guard in the transition from military life to college life at the UofM. Services include mentoring, recognition, Veteran Education Benefits and Certification, and a tight-knit community and sense of place on campus.
- Wounded Warrior Project is a national organization that serves veterans and service members who have incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2015 and their families. There are many ways to get involved in their effort like having your own fundraiser, taking part in a Tough Mudder obstacle course race or other existing fundraiser, and supporting their sponsors.
Thank you to all who have served. I am so proud to be an American and celebrate our freedom because of the selfless men and women who have served our country in our armed forces. It is my goal to raise my children to have the same respect for our veterans and pride in our country.