5 Ways Assisted Living Communities Honor Veterans
Veteran’s Day is November 11, 2017, and there are over 9 million senior veterans living in the United States. That is why assisted living communities have both an opportunity and responsibility to do something special for veteran residents this time of year.
If you could use some help figuring out how to honor your veteran residents, here are a few examples of what other assisted living communities have planned:
1. Decorate the community.
You’re probably already in the habit of decorating for some of the other holidays, so why not do the same for Veteran’s Day?
According to Alexis Stengel from Whitehall Manor in Pennsylvania, they go all out with the decorations: “We decorate our activity room in red, white and blue… balloons, flags and tablecloths. I set special tables for our vets, with special treats and goody bags. I also get items specific to their branch of service to hand out to each one, along with flag pins.”
At Artis Senior Living of Mason, the veterans participate to help create the decorations. Diana Cunningham explains, “All of our veterans helped to paint a large flag out of a wooden pallet and we will have that on display.”
Decorating can be a patriotic activity the residents help out with in advance of Veteran’s Day so you get the whole community in the spirit. Anyone visiting the residence will know exactly how much you value your veterans.
2. Host a ceremony.
On the day of, you can go further and have an entire ceremony dedicated to your resident veterans. According to Kristin Townsley, from Artis Senior Living of Mason, “We are having a Veteran’s Day program on November 10th. We will have snacks and refreshments. We will honor all of our veterans and pin them with an American Flag.”
Traditions at Beaumont in Kentucky even brings in some local future veterans to celebrate. “We will have a local ROTC with color guard coming in for a ceremony. We will be pinning all of our veterans and presenting flags to the widows of vets,” says Erin Hosking.
A ceremony gives you the chance to draw attention to your resident veterans and show them they’re appreciated in front of the entire assisted living community.
3. Involve local students.
Residents of assisted living homes spend a lot of time surrounded by other seniors. One way you can make your celebrations more special is by getting some of the local kids or teens in your community involved.
Traditions of Beaumont invites their local ROTC, as previously mentioned. Melissa Smith from The Legacy at Forest Ridge shares that they celebrate with “a special musical performance from Sound of Luke,” a local children’s choir. The Pearl of Jamestown also recruits local schoolchildren to send in letters of appreciation to their veterans that go up on the wall of honor they create.
Hearing from you and their fellow residents is nice, but hearing from the country’s youth lets them know their service still matters to future generations.
4. Set up a wall of honor.
Put your veterans on display in the community to help honor them. Brook Martin Kitto from The Pearl at Jamestown residence in Baton Rouge says their fourteen veteran residents “will be honored at the community with a wall with pictures of our residents in uniform.”
They’re not the only ones honoring their veterans this way, a number of retirement communities run by Holiday Retirement have created walls of honor you can see examples of and Belmont Village created a page on their website collecting pictures of their veterans with a few lines from each one about their service.
5. Take them out to lunch.
The food at your assisted living community may be amazing, but your residents probably still feel like it’s something special when they get to go out to eat for an occasion.
Alexis Stengel from Whitehall Manor says they take advantage of that:
“We take as many that want to participate to Chili’s Restaurant to take advantage of the free lunch they offer to our veterans. I love this, because while we are there, they are treated like celebrities by both staff and patrons, who continually come up to them thanking them for their service.”
For these veterans, not only do they see appreciation from their fellow residents, they get to hear from strangers (many of them young) who tell them how much their service mattered. For some veterans, that can be especially meaningful.
Honoring veterans is something easy you can do that makes a big difference in your residents’ lives. Show them you care and their service is still appreciated, no matter how long ago it was. They’ll never tire of knowing their years in service to the country mattered.