Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of May each year, with 2024’s celebration landing on May 18. The holiday recognizes and celebrates the efforts, accomplishments, determination, and sacrifices of active service members and veterans alike. However, it can also be a difficult time for many veterans. Using the discourse around Armed Forces Day can empower veterans and their families to address misconceptions and vocalize many challenges veterans face while continuing to celebrate their accomplishments. 

What Is Armed Forces Day?

Armed Forces Day is a time to acknowledge the unity and triumphs of military personnel, both present and past. It is a celebration of the armed forces’ bravery and willingness to protect their countries and families from threats. The day also celebrates all service members from any military branch, from Army and Navy to Coast Guard, Space Force, Marines, National Guard, and Reserve. 

Armed Forces Day is not just a recognition of military efforts but also a celebration of what our military represents – the values, goals, and mission of the armed forces. Liberty, freedom, and patriotism are on full display. However, with the additional attention service members receive on this day, it can also be an important day to address the challenges many veterans and active service members face. Knowing how to celebrate the holiday with military loved ones and how to use this opportunity to further necessary healing can all make up a truly effective approach to Armed Forces Day. 

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Overcoming trauma, mental health disorders, substance use, and addiction is incredibly difficult, with each journey to a healthy sobriety filled with unforeseen obstacles and personal challenges. For veterans of the armed forces, this journey can be even more complicated as veterans navigate the issues and complications of not just meant…

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Celebrating Armed Forces Day

Communities will all have their unique ways of celebrating Armed Forces Day. Finding the right way to celebrate these accomplishments for each person, family, and community can be great for showing appreciation, gratitude, and more for those who have answered the call of duty. While not all people will necessarily show gratitude in the same way, it is important to find some way to express thanks this Armed Forces Day for veterans and active service members. 

Finding a Parade

Parades are a great way to go out and show support for the armed forces. While not all communities will necessarily have a parade in their hometown, finding local or nearby parades and attending can be great ways of showing appreciation while validating the experiences, sacrifices, and bravery of military personnel. 

Volunteering Opportunities

Finding somewhere to volunteer for festivities or expressions of gratitude is another great way to get involved on Armed Forces Day. For some, volunteering can be a great way to learn more about local military communities. Setting up functions, providing organizational assistance, or volunteering to provide food or other gestures can all be ways to express gratitude for veterans’ military efforts and their continued effects on local communities.

Small Expressions of Gratitude

While some may celebrate Armed Forces Day with more public functions, others may choose to engage with the holiday on a more intimate and personal level. Expressing gratitude or support for local military families or individuals, as well as acknowledging not just the sacrifices of military personnel but the sacrifices of their family members to support such a life, can all be fantastic approaches to the holiday. Cards, preparing dinner, or even just taking a moment to thank them for their service can all be profound ways to acknowledge the challenges and accomplishments of military personnel. 

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Making Time for Meditation in Veteran Life

Meditation is a powerful recovery tool, whether veterans are overcoming the effects of drug or alcohol addiction, navigating trauma and mental health disorders, or addressing a combination of both. Trauma-informed professionals and a community of veteran peers are available to not only help you explore the benefits of meditation but to empower you to further refine and explore the skill for yourself for a sustainable approach to a healthy and fulfilling veteran life. For more information on our rehab centers in Hawaii, call to speak to us at (866) 390-5070.

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Using Armed Forces Day to Further Healing

While Armed Forces Day is largely a celebration of the accomplishments of military personnel, it is still an opportunity to help deconstruct misunderstandings, stigmas, and more this holiday. Hawaii Island Recovery’s rehab centers in Hawaii can empower veterans and families to approach the holiday with the right expectations and strategies. 

Acknowledging Stigmas

Veterans and active service members have many expectations thrust upon them, from being persistent and unyielding bastions of strength to being resilient and collected in the face of any challenge. However, maintaining this expected persona comes with many challenges and anxieties, and pervasive stigmas can cause military personnel to act against their own health to maintain this expectation. 

Many military personnel may feel they cannot reach out for mental health support, trauma support, or addiction recovery programs like those at Hawaii Island Recovery to address personal needs due to these stigmas. Armed Forces Day provides an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments while also acknowledging their physical, mental, and emotional costs to military personnel.

Talking to Veterans

Likewise, Armed Forces Day can also be a platform to let veterans and active service member tell their own stories. Showing support is great, but it is also important to let those we celebrate speak their stories. Sitting with military families and learning about military life – both the triumphs and challenges therein – can be a truly transformational and educational experience. 

This approach can also empower veterans to understand their needs in civilian life and create a more honest and open understanding of the effects of military experiences. Normalizing and empowering veterans to talk about trauma, PTSD, substance use, and other lingering effects of a military lifestyle is the first step in destigmatizing these topics and encouraging change. 

Armed Forces Day can be a conflicting day for many military personnel. Hawaii Island Recovery’s rehab centers in Hawaii are instrumental in approaching the day with new practices, intentions, and care. Veteran life is complicated, and filled with challenges and stresses, and knowing how to celebrate and show thanks to veterans while also being cognizant of their challenges is paramount. From continued addiction and trauma support to developing communication, understanding, self-care strategies, and curating a community of veteran peers and family healing programs, Hawaii Island Recovery can help you develop the tools necessary to navigate Armed Forces Day as well as other stresses and challenges for a healthy and sober approach to veteran life. Call us at (866) 390-5070.