Col. Steven Weintraub isn’t limited by a calendar.
“For us at Vet Tix literally every single day is Veterans Day,” says Weintraub, the chief strategy officer for Veteran Tickets Foundation. The nonprofit distributes event tickets to veterans and those currently serving in the military; members, in turn, may share the tickets for events including sporting events, concerts and more.
READ MORE: Best Veteran And Military Discounts For 2022
When you’re in the military you’re deployed or you’re on duty, and you miss life events, says Weintraub, who’s retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. “For us, this is a way to give back and make up for that lost time. So spending that time with friends and family — an afternoon at a ball game or a concert to take your mind off of the everyday stressors of life … that’s why we do this.”
Vet Tix isn’t the only organization seeking to support military members and their families. Many businesses recognize service members and their families by offering discounts throughout the year.
The practice has been around for a while, especially in areas where there’s a high concentration of military personnel, according to Sarah Blansett, Vice President, Military.com. But, she adds, “the practice really grew on the national scale after September 11th when businesses wanted a way to show their support for military members, first responders, and their families. Since then we’ve seen more and more companies make a military discount a regular part of their outreach.”
The discounts not only provide a way for businesses to show appreciation to military members and their families, but present a budgetary advantage, writes Blansett, whose organization identifies a host of freebies and discounts here. Moving every few years is expensive and can incur non-reimbursable costs, she notes; furthermore, she adds, “military spouses face challenges in maintaining their careers because of the frequent relocations.”
The impact of such resources can go deeper than the pocketbook.
Attending events has a positive impact on the mental well-being of the military, veteran and first-responder population, according to Weintraub. “A lot of them don’t like going out in crowds,” he says, adding that attendance at these events helps individuals overcome the challenges they face with isolation, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Noting that the majority of tickets are donated in blocks, Weintraub says that while those attending events are sitting with strangers, those beside them are often veterans, service members and first responders (the latter group can find event tickets through 1stTix), which can provide a feeling of security and familiarity.
So whether you’re planning your next vacation or running last-minute errands, be sure to use — or ask about — discounts available for current or retired members of the military, as well as family members. For starters, though, check out these options, from amusement parks to zoos, being mindful that restrictions may apply:
Bedtime stories: United Through Reading helps service members stay connected with the young people in their lives, whether their own children, nieces, nephews, siblings or others.
Event tickets: Register at VetTix to become eligible to receive tickets to concerts, sporting events and more; recipients only pay a delivery fee that never exceeds $14.97, according to Weintraub. (Individuals may donate tickets to VetTix and will receive a tax deduction for their contribution to the nonprofit.)
Home repair/improvement: Home Depot and Sherwin Williams are among the retailers offering deals to military members and their spouses throughout the year. Military.com offers a compilation of companies offering home and garden discounts here.
Movies: Deals on movie tickets are available at participating locations of AMC theaters.
Museums: From Armed Forces Day (May 21) through Labor Day (September 5), free admission to Blue Star Museums is offered to active-duty military personnel and their families, according to arts.gov. Find a map of participating venues here.
National Parks: Current military members and their dependents, as well as veterans and Gold Star families receive free entrance to national parks.
Tutoring: Tutor.com provides free, online help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Yard services: Project EverGreen volunteers tend to the yard work (or snow removal) for deployed service members.
Zoos: Check out Military.com’s roundup of zoos around the country that offer discounted tickets or free admission.
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