5 Ways to Honor Veterans in Your Community

So many men and women have dedicated their lives to answering our nation’s call, and many ask for nothing in return. These individuals have proven their devotion to our country, and we owe them the same devotion and gratitude in return.

Lynn Bewley, a former Senior Account Executive at Homesteaders and an active supporter of Veterans, shares five ways funeral professionals can honor Veterans in your community:

  1. Host a senior movie night
  2. Organize a National Salute ceremony
  3. Support Honor Flight
  4. Give a Community Engagement Presentation
  5. Promote Journey to Serve

1. Senior Movie Night

Sponsoring a senior movie night at your funeral home is a great way to show your support and introduce Veterans to other programs and opportunities available to them. You can either keep the movie night simple or you can pair it with other activities and tributes to honor the Veterans in attendance.

For example, Lynn helps funeral homes host a senior movie night centered around The Unknowns, a documentary about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The documentary follows volunteers from the U.S. Army’s most elite ceremonial unit as they take on the training cycle and learn the honorable traditions of the Brotherhood of Sentinels who guard the Tomb and what it means to protect our Nation’s most sacred shrine. These movie nights allow funeral homes to honor the Veterans in their community as well as bring awareness to the service and sacrifice of the Unknown Soldiers and the Sentinels who guard them.

In order to generate awareness for a movie night, Lynn recommends that a funeral home ask various groups in their community to participate in or support the event in some way. For example, inviting the local American Legion or VFW to attend or asking the Honor Guard to conduct the flag presentation ceremony. Other groups include the local EMS, police and fire departments, current or retired Tomb guards and the ROTC.

Lynn also encourages funeral homes to promote their movie nights to increase attendance. Channels through which you can promote this type of event include your local newspaper, Chamber of Commerce, news or radio stations, social media, VA retirement homes, senior living and retirement facilities, churches, Veterans’ groups and more. The turnout will depend on how you promote the event but involving more groups in your community will help your efforts.


2. National Salute

If you don’t have the space to host a senior movie night, organizing a National Salute for the Veterans in your community is a second way you can honor them. The National Salute, reinstituted in 2015, is a simple commemoration that allows your community to show their deep respect for the Unknown Soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery and all Veterans.

This year marks the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the burial of the World War I Unknown Solider, the Society of the Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) is encouraging everyone to create a local and unique National Salute ceremony at 11 a.m. on Veteran’s Day, November 11. The National Salute traditionally consists of three parts: opening, recognition and ending. Together, the three parts of the National Salute can serve as a reminder to pause and recognize the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our futures.


3. Honor Flight

Volunteering for the Honor Flight Network or sponsoring an individual Honor Flight trip is another way you can honor your community’s Veterans. The Honor Flight Network is a national network comprised of independent hubs working together to transport America’s Veterans to Washington, D.C., at no cost to the Veterans, to visit the memorials and monuments dedicated to their service and sacrifice. Participation in an Honor Flight trip gives Veterans the opportunity to share the experience with other Veterans and remember those who were lost.

The Honor Flight Network serves Veterans from the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War eras as well as terminally ill Veterans serving during any era. To date, the Honor Flight Network has taken more than 245,000 Veterans to Washington, D.C. and currently consists of over 128 hubs throughout the country.

If you’re interested in becoming involved with your local Honor Flight Hub, visit the Honor Flight Network’s website to learn more.


4. Veterans Community Engagement Presentation

Veterans can receive several funeral benefits such as a ceremonial flag and burial in a national Veterans’ cemetery at no cost*. However, many Veterans don’t know of the benefits available to them, so hosting a community presentation specifically for Veterans is a great way to honor their service while helping them prepare for their own funerals.

Similar to organizing a senior movie night, you will need to generate awareness for the presentation in order to have a strong turnout. Consider partnering with the local American Legion or VFW and extending invitations to VA retirement homes, senior living and retirement facilities, churches and other Veterans’ groups. If you’d like to offer more flexibility, allow people to attend virtually or in-person. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight personalization options for Veterans as well as the reasons why funeral planning is beneficial. This is also a great opportunity to acknowledge any hesitations they have, reaffirm that choosing to prearrange their funeral is the right decision and introduce the benefits available to Veterans. Homesteaders' Community Engagement Program includes a Veterans presentation and the tools needed to promote the event.

*Cemetery space is limited by eligibility and other requirements.


5. Journey to Serve

The fifth way you can honor Veterans in your community is by helping them become valued members of your team. Journey to Serve is an excellent example of this mission. Created by the Funeral Service Foundation and the ICCFA Educational Foundation in 2021, Journey to Serve aims to engage, recruit and hire more military Veterans to careers in the funeral service profession, while also helping to tackle one of the most critical challenges for funeral home owners: hiring strong talent. Journey to Serve offers a free toolkit which can help you better communicate with and recruit Veterans to your team.

There are countless ways to honor the Veterans in your community. By opening the doors to your funeral home or sharing helpful resources, you can connect Veterans with the right people and introduce them to new opportunities that they may not have otherwise known.

Offering Veterans programs like these is a great way to show your support and honor those who have served. For more information or help with successfully implementing any of these programs in your firm, contact your Homesteaders Account Executive.

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