When the clock struck 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, it marked the armistice between World War I's Allied forces and Germany, ending the fighting on the Western Front.
The commemoration to honor the 4.7 million Americans who served — and the 116,500 who died — in what then was called the Great War originally was celebrated as Armistice Day. That name and the annual ceremonies continued in the United States until 1954. That year the Nov. 11 commemoration was to Veterans Day and its scope widened to honor veterans from all eras.
But even with a new name, the momentousness of the event 102 years ago today meant that Veterans Day nee Armistice Day continues each Nov. 11 rather than being shifted to a Monday, three-day weekend holiday.
Providing more than lip service: We often talk about those who serve in glowing terms. However, we don't as often follow up that talk with real actions to help veterans. Or their families.
Post-military life is full of myriad challenges to veterans and family members. Some service men and women find the return to civilian life is just another battle.
There's adjusting to civilian rules and norms that often are very different from the military standards they've been trained to follow.
They are finally reunited with family and friend with whom they have not seen or spent time for, in some cases, year. The veterans, as well as their loved ones, likely have changed.
The return to civilian life is full of changes, from adjusting to reestablished personal relationships to finding a new home to resuming or beginning educational endeavors to carving out a post-military career.
Unfortunately, many veterans do not make seamless or ultimately successful transitions.
But there are agencies and groups that can help, including those listed below:
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Vet Centers
- American Legion
- Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Disabled American Veterans
- Wounded Warrior Project
- Hire Heroes USA
- National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
- Mesothelioma & Veterans
If you are a vet or a veteran's family member, please take advantage of all available resources.
Help veterans by helping support groups: And if you are not a vet or related to one, but want to help, consider supporting these groups or other similar groups, especially those in your area.
Many are nonprofits, which also means your financial support could provide you a tax benefit.
Taxpayers who itemize can claim their donations to Internal Revenue Service qualified 501 (c) (3) groups as a tax deduction on Schedule A.
Filers who claim the standard deduction also will get the opportunity on their 2020 returns to claim some charitable gifts. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March contains a provision that allows for cash donations of up to $300 to be claimed without itemizing. Specifically, this tax break will be claimed directly on the Form 1040 on line 10.
I know that most who donate don't do so for the tax benefit. But if you can claim it, then by all means do so. It could save you a few dollars at filing time, money that you could then use to help out or just spend time with the veterans in your life.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Military tax considerations and tips
- Gold Star families get eventual widow, kiddie tax fixes
- Hiring former military workers could provide a business tax break