Have a Heart: Showing America's Veterans and Servicemembers You Care

Are you looking for a fun and meaningful mid-winter project for your community or civic organization, scouting group, or your kids or grandkids? Valentine’s Day is a perfect opportunity to show our nation’s veterans and deployed servicemembers that America supports them and thanks them for their service. All you need to get started is a desire to bring a smile to a veteran or servicemember’s face. Valentines of all kinds are encouraged—store-bought and homemade cards alike.

Hospitalized Veterans
The week of Feb. 10 is “National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans” week and since the observance includes Valentine’s Day, the week encourages Americans from all walks of life to send greetings to veterans at local VA medical centers and to visit the veterans there. “Valentines for Veterans” started in 1989, with help from renowned newspaper columnist Ann Landers and support from various Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) secretaries. The program is still a holiday tradition 19 years later. In addition to preparing and delivering Valentines, making a visit to personally thank some veterans at your local VA medical center is also highly encouraged. To send completed cards or to volunteer to visit veterans, contact the Voluntary Service Director at your local VA medical facility. To locate a VA medical center near you, visit the facilities locator page on the VA’s Web site. For more information about the National Salute to Hospitalized veterans, visit the VA’s Web site.

Deployed Military
Another way to show you care this holiday is to send Valentine greetings to America’s deployed military members. From care packages and cards to adopting a soldier, there are many ways to show support for our servicemembers. There are numerous homefront groups that can help send your notes. The Department of Defense’s “America Supports You” (ASY) program has 76 of these groups listed under the “Letters and Messages” section of the ASY Web site. While the Women’s Memorial Foundation does not recommend any one of the homefront groups over the other, we know that servicemembers value and appreciate gestures of support.

Although Valentine’s Day may traditionally be a holiday reserved for couples, have a heart and reach out to a veteran or servicemember with expressions of support and thanks this Feb. 14—you’re sure to bring a smile to a veteran or servicemember’s face.

(February 2008)

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