Each year, Veterans Day allows us to celebrate living veterans and pay respect to those who have died. Whether they saw intense combat or helped protect America from behind the scenes, all veterans deserve our praise. Some veterans are still fighting battles from their service today, including mental conditions, disabilities, and diseases like mesothelioma. Learn how you can support veterans this year.
When Is Veterans Day 2021?
Veterans Day 2021 is celebrated on November 11 and honors the brave men and women who put themselves at risk to serve their country. With it comes another opportunity for us to show our appreciation for those who served.
A veteran’s memories of their service may be joyful, bittersweet, or even negative. For example, some must deal with health problems that stem from their service, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical disabilities, or mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
No matter a veteran’s circumstances, you and your family can show your support this year. From calling a living veteran to honoring one who has died, there is no shortage of ways to celebrate Veterans Day 2021.
Veterans and Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is just one of the many reasons why veterans deserve our praise on Veterans Day. Though their time in the military has drawn to a close, they still may be fighting service-related health problems like this life-threatening cancer.
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. From the 1930s to the early 1980s, the U.S. military used asbestos because it resisted heat, water, electricity, and sound. The military didn't know the risks as makers of asbestos-based products hid the dangerous truth to keep making money.
Asbestos fibers can get stuck inside the human body and cause cancerous tumors to grow. By the time the U.S. military became aware of the dangers of asbestos and stopped using the mineral, thousands of veterans had already been put at risk of mesothelioma.
Today, veterans make up approximately 33% of all mesothelioma patients.
Mesothelioma typically develops 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos, so veterans who served decades ago could be at risk today. And while mesothelioma can be treated, it has no cure.
Ways You Can Celebrate Veterans Day 2021
There are dozens of ways your family can honor a veteran with mesothelioma this year. Below, find some ideas on how to celebrate Veterans Day 2021.
Connect With a Veteran
Reaching out to a veteran with mesothelioma on Veterans Day can lift their spirits. A limited number of hospitals are equipped to properly treat mesothelioma patients, so veterans may need to travel far from home to receive life-extending treatments.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, families may not be able to see veterans fighting mesothelioma face to face. Fortunately, there are other ways to check in.
Video conference apps like Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime can allow you to see and speak with a veteran through the internet. Even a simple phone call can lift a veteran’s spirits during this trying time.
Making a Veterans Day donation is another great way to show your support.
For Veterans Day 2021, consider donating to:
- The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation: This non-profit organization is dedicated to finding a cure for mesothelioma. You can make a general donation or one specifically in honor of a loved one who has died.
- VA Hospitals: While VA hospitals often allow volunteers, they may or may not be accepting them during the pandemic. The next best thing is to give back financially. The VA allows donors to choose which hospital or health care clinic receives their donation.
These are just two of many groups or hospitals that accept donations. You can discuss with your family to determine which organization you would like to donate to.
Create Care Packages
If you don’t want to give a general donation, you can order care packages for veterans or military personnel currently serving. These care packages can help veterans and service members know they aren’t forgotten.
Organizations like Operation Gratitude deliver care packages to veterans and active-duty personnel all over the world.
Through Operation Gratitude, you can:
- Mail a package to a specific service member currently deployed
- Ship a pre-made care package to an anonymous veteran or service member
- Volunteer to make gifts for care packages, such as letters and bracelets
You can also create a custom-made care package on your own for a veteran receiving treatment for mesothelioma if they live far away and you cannot visit them on Veterans Day.
Raise Awareness About Mesothelioma
If a veteran you love is battling mesothelioma or died from it, another great way to show support is by raising awareness.
Here are some ways to raise awareness about mesothelioma:
- Hold a digital fundraiser that can spread awareness among veterans and their families
- Write a newspaper editorial about mesothelioma and veterans
- Schedule a phone call or virtual meeting with your local congressman to discuss the issues of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma
Remember, until asbestos has been banned and removed from all structures, it still poses a threat. For example, older buildings, vehicles, or machines may still contain asbestos. If the asbestos is disturbed, someone could breathe it in and get sick.
Make Veterans Day 2021 Special
Getting involved on Veterans Day 2021 helps you honor the sacrifices service members made.
Veterans will always carry the experiences of their military service, whether they be positive, traumatic, or both. In some cases, veterans sacrifice their lives for their country either in the line of duty or long after they served due to mesothelioma or other health issues.
By doing your part this Veterans Day, you can honor the bravery and sacrifices our veterans made — and continue to make — for our country.