Kids have little ideas about what happens in war and less of what soldiers in war must endure. So they often are naive about how to react and treat those returning from wars. It is our responsibility as parents and adults to ensure that they do have some understand and adopt actions that show they appreciate the sacrifice that our war veterans have made for them. Here are some things kids can do to understand better and show their appreciation:

  • Get them to read age appropriate stories about vets that explain their plight. 

There are many books written for kids that help to get them to appreciate the complicated emotions and anxieties that war vets go through. One excellent book is called Helping a Hero, by author Jo S Kittinger, and is described as follows in an Amazon review “In this beautifully illustrated 32-page picture book, a young girl’s uncle returns home from military service overseas a changed man—depressed, moody, unable to sleep, and unable to hold a job. The girl and a friend visit a lawyer who acts as a medical-legal partner, providing legal help to underserved communities in a hospital setting, who in turn connects the girl’s uncle with Thresholds, an organization specializing in helping returning veterans. Helping a Hero is a great tool to use to explain to young people that our vets need our compassion and love. Parents can use it to bring up the topic of our war veterans and start a conversation with their kids around it.

  • Teach them how to speaks respectfully around combat vets

Kids are very curious and love to ask questions. This is one of the ways they learn about the world. Although it is to be encouraged in kids generally speaking, being inquisitive about the wrong subjects with certain people can cause issues. This is potentially the case with war vets. Children should be discouraged from asking war vets about their experiences during war. These are memories that come with pain, anguish and lost. The vet may have been and even may still be in therapy relating to some of those memories, so being grilled on the topic by a young person can actually cause emotional damage to the vet. It is best to let the vet pick topics to discuss with the young person. So if the young person is curious let him or her know beforehand the topics that can be brought up and which ones are off limits. This will be a great service to the war vet.

  • Have them write thank you letters

When a child writes a letter, it takes time and thought. It is also a great opportunity to teach the child because the child will usually have questions about what to best say in the letter. This gives you a chance to interact with the child about the letter’s topic. You can give the chid facts about war veterans and help the child put in meaningful information as the child becomes educated about our war heroes. When the letter is competed, there are several organizations that provide a service of delivering letters to active and veterans of the military.

Children need to understand that there is a price for the freedoms they enjoy and often that price is paid by our military service people during wars. Educate them and make them aware of how they can show their appreciation.