Virtual Memorial Day Tributes

While many of us typically celebrate Memorial Day weekend by hanging out with friends and family and drinking red, white and blue cocktails, the heart of the holiday lies with America’s service people.

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place, though, the biggest concern shouldn’t be that we can’t party all weekend—rather, that our veterans might be having a difficult time without in-person services.

To ensure that our service people aren’t forgotten during this pandemic, we rounded up some virtual Memorial Day ideas that allow you to pay tribute to America’s service people, veterans and their families while also staying safely at home. You can throw some ribs on the grill and support service people at the same time this holiday.

1. Send A Care Package

To support service people who are currently abroad and can’t celebrate Memorial Day at home or with their families—or occasionally can’t even talk to their loved ones—consider sending a care package. Organizations like Support Our Troops have compiled lists of what these service people need while away from their homes, so you can make sure you’re supplying goods that will make a difference. You can buy and ship items directly to the organization, or donate to them on their site if you’d rather make a monetary contribution.

2. Donate To Armed Services YMCA

The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) is currently supporting service people with food, child care and more during these unprecedented times. There are 13 branches around the country, and each has been assessing what their individual communities need right now. If you want to lend your support, find your closest ASYMCA and find out what you can do to help this Memorial Day and beyond.

3. Check In On Veterans & Service People You Know

If you know any service people who are home right now or veterans who might benefit from a quick call or FaceTime, take a few minutes to check in. Especially during these times, we call could use a listening ear. Ask for fun stories, how you can help them directly or simply thank them for their service. Sometimes reaching out and saying thank you is one of the most important things we can do.

4. Learn How To Help Veterans In Crisis

For veterans in your life who might occasionally have a hard time (especially with stay at home orders and social distancing in place) consider learning how to help when crises arise. The Veteran Crisis Line has tips for talking to veterans who need support—including a social media safety toolkit that can help you respond to posts indicating a veteran might be having thoughts of self harm.

5. Support Veteran Authors

So many veterans have written about their experiences in the military, and reading accounts of being at war or working as a service person in America can help our understanding of what veterans have gone through. Ordering a book written by a veteran is an easy way to support them while also giving yourself an opportunity to learn more about their life. In addition, if you know a service person or veteran who’s interested in writing but doesn’t know where to start, the Veterans Writing Project hosts free writing and songwriting seminars for service people, veterans and their families. This can be a great resource to share with service people and veterans you know.

6. Donate To Wounded Warriors Family Support Fund

Wounded Warriors Family Support has an emergency response in place for directly helping families affected by COVID-19. When you make a donation to this fund, 100 percent of the money is used to support veteran families in need. Veterans and their families can also apply for assistance on this same site, so if you know someone who’s being affected by the pandemic, you can direct them there as well.

7. Inform Veterans About The Support They Can Receive

Many veterans may not know about the support they can receive while stay at home orders are in place. However, both the US Department of Veteran Affairs and Tragedy Assistance for Survivors (also commonly known as TAPS) have responses in place for COVID-19. Do little research and help pass information along to veterans you know who could use some extra help during this time.

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