The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the day the world rejoices, the skies part and veterans are offered countless freebies. This year, retailers across the country are offering deep discounts on everything from car washes to televisions. Make sure you double check the official site information and specific rules before heading out to claim your discount. You’ll need to bring your CAC, be in uniform or have proof of your veteran status to get the discounts. Some promotions include fine print that indicate participating locations only, so call ahead or reach out on social media first. 

Dining discounts available all November 

Eat’n Park
All active and former United States military personnel will receive a special 10% discount for the entire month of November.

Golden Corral
From November 1 – November 30, 2020, all active and former military members can pick up a free “thank you meal” promotional card that’s good for one free lunch or dinner buffet and beverage. The promotional card can be used Monday – Thursday after 11am from November 1 – May 31, 2021. One promotional card per person.

McCormick and Schmick’s Free Entree
Veterans and Gold Star families (parents and spouses) can enjoy a half priced lunch or dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s on Sunday, November 8th, 2020.

Texas de Brazil
Veterans receive 25% off dinner Monday, November 9 through Thursday, November 12.

Tucanos
Free Churrasco Meal with the purchase of another Churrasco meal or a ½ price meal available for veterans dining solo). Plus, post a selfie at Tucano’s and get a free dessert certificate. Mon., Nov. 9 through Wed., Nov. 11.

Dining discounts available on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

54th Street Grill & Bar
Free entree up to $12 on Veterans Day (Wed 11-11-20) for Veterans + Active Duty who dine inside 54th Street. #54supportsvets

7-Eleven
Get a free coffee or Big Gulp on Memorial Day, July 4th, and Veterans Day. Download the 7-Eleven app and sign in or register.

Ahipoke Bowl
On Nov. 11, veterans and active-duty military receive 50% off poke bowls. Dine-in or take out.

Applebee’s
Veterans and Active Duty Military can select a free meal from a limited menu on veterans Day. Provide proof of service required.

Arooga’s
Active Duty military and veterans with a valid ID can choose a free item from a special menu on 11/11/2020 at participating locations

Aspen Creek Grill
On Wednesday, Nov. 11th, all veterans and active duty military can select from a complimentary menu from 11 am to close.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Veterans & Active Duty servicemen and women receive a free BD’s All American Burger & side with valid Military ID. In person only.

Bagger Dave’s
Active, non-active, reservists, retired personnel, and first responders with proof of military identification get one Great American Cheeseburger and fries. 

Bandana’s Bar-B-Q
Veterans and active duty get a free Budget Buster Meal on Wednesday, 11/11/20.

Bar Louie
Wednesday, November 11th Louie nation is offering a free craft burger or flatbread of your choice to all active or retired military.

Ben’s Soft Pretzels‏
Free pretzel for veterans and active military.

BIBIBOP Asian Grill
BIBIBOP is giving all Veterans and Active Duty Military a free bowl.

Black Angus Steakhouse
Participating restaurants will offer veterans and active military an All-American Steak Plate for just $10.99 plus all the fixings and a non- alcoholic beverage. 

BJ’s Restaurant
All service members can enjoy a complimentary entree up to $14.95, plus a free Dr Pepper, by presenting a military ID or proof of service.

Bob Evans
Bob Evans Restaurants are offering free select menu items to Veterans and Active Duty Military.

Brick House Tavern + Tap
20% off meal on Nov. 11 for veterans and parties up to 4.

Bubba Gump Shrimp
Military personnel and their families receive 20% off on food and retail purchases.

Buffalo Wild Wings Free Wings
Veterans and active duty military who dine-in at their local B-Dubs can receive a free one order of boneless wings and a side of fries. 

Calhoun’s
All veterans and active duty military members can enjoy a free meal.

California Pizza Kitchen
On Veterans Day, all veterans or active duty military personnel will be able to select a free entree from a special Veterans Day menu including pizza, salads and pasta. Please come in uniform or bring your military ID or other proof of service.

Cantina Laredo
Veterans and active duty military can receive a complimentary meal on Wed., Nov. 11.

Casey’s General Store
Casey’s is providing free coffee across its more than 2,200 locations.

Cattlemens Steakhouse
Cattlemens Steakhouse offers current and former military members a complimentary 8 oz. Sirloin Steak dinner.

CentraArchy Restaurants
CentraArchy Restaurants are showing their gratitude by honoring veterans and active duty military service members with 50% off an entrée. 

Chicken Salad Chick
Chicken Salad Chick is offering a free Chick Special and regular size drink to any veteran or active-duty military personnel who visits.

Chili’s Grill & Bar
All veterans and active duty military personnel can choose a complimentary meal from a select menu on Veterans Day 2020.

Cicis Pizza
Free adult buffet with valid active duty or retired military ID on 11/11/20.

Coco’s Bakery & Restaurant
Receive a free slice of pie for all Veterans and Active Duty Military with proof of service plus buy one get one free entree for breakfast, lunch or dinner on Veterans Day.

Colton’s Steak House
Veterans eat free from 11am-4pm. Free entree valid for all active, former, or retired military when ordering from Veterans Day menu.

Connors Steak & Seafood
Connors Steak & Seafood locations in TN, AL, and FL are offering 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree to all active duty and retired service members with military ID or in uniform.

Cotton Patch Cafe
Veterans and active duty may enjoy a free Chicken Fried Steak or Chicken Fried Chicken on veterans Day.

Country Cookin
All active, reserve, retired, and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military are invited to dine and receive a free salad bar or $5 off any entree.

Country Kitchen Restaurants
Free country scramble for active & retired military at participating locations.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
During Military Family Appreciation Month Cracker Barrel will offer in-store specials on Veterans Day for military veterans and promotions throughout November to support military families in partnership with Operation Homefront. On 11/11, veterans can receive a free slice of Double Fudge Coca-Cola Cake with their meal.

Crooked Pint Ale House
On Nov 11. veterans and active military eat free.

Denny’s
All active, non-active or retired military personnel at all participating Denny’s restaurants nationwide will receive a free Build Your Own Grand Slam breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 5 a.m. to noon. Diners must show ID to receive this offer.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Free Pulled Pork Classic Sandwich this Veterans Day. To redeem in-store, veterans and current military personnel must present a military ID or valid proof of service.

Drake’s
Veterans and active duty military will receive a complimentary meal at participating locations.

Dunkin’ Donuts
On November 11, Veterans and active duty military can enjoy a free donut at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide, no purchase necessary.

Einstein Bros. Bagels
On 11/11/20 veterans and active-duty military get a free hot or iced medium coffee.

Famous Dave’s
On Nov. 11 in honor of veterans Day all former and current military personnel will receive a free two meat Combo. Dine-in or To-Go.

Farmer Boys
Wednesday, Nov. 11 veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service get a free big cheese cheeseburger.

Firebirds
Complimentary meals to active duty military and veterans on Veterans Day.

Frickers Restaurants
Veterans get 10 free wings (boneless or traditional) on Nov. 11.

Friendly’s Free Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner
Friendly’s is treating veterans and active military, with a valid military ID or honorable discharge card, to a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner, which consists of the All-American Burger, served with a side of fries and a drink. The burger can be upgraded to a cheeseburger for free.

Glory Days Grill
Free appetizer or a regular order of boneless or grilled boneless wings.

Gold Star Chili
Enjoy a free 3-way and drink on Veterans Day. For all who served.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants
Participating locations will offer veterans and active duty military a complimentary free entrée from a Veterans Day menu.

Green Mill Restaurant and Bar
Veterans and Active Duty Military will receive a free lunch or dinner dine-in meal at participating locations. Must show proof of service, and beverages and gratuity are not included in free meal.

Hamburger Stand
All veterans and active duty with a valid military ID receive a free hamburger, regular fries, and a small Pepsi.

hopdoddy burger bar
Free Classic Burger with Cheese for veterans on 11/11/20. Redeemable for in-store dining or to-go orders placed by phone.

Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea House
20% off meals on 11/11 for all veterans.

Houlihan’s
Receive a free entrée from a select menu with proof of veteran status or active service in the military.

Huddle House
Huddle House is offering a free MVP Breakfast Platter to all active military members and veterans with proper I.D.

Huey Magoo’s
Treat a veteran or active military member with proper I.D. to a free meal for one when you purchase a meal for one and two beverages on Veterans Day.

Hy-Vee Free Breakfast
Enjoy a free curbside pickup breakfast for veterans and active military members November 11, 2020 from 6 – 10 a.m.

IHOP
All active duty and Veterans are invited to come in and enjoy Free Red, White, & Blue Pancakes on Monday, November 11, from 7 am to 7 pm.

J Christopher’s
Wednesday, November 11th, those who served receive a free meal.

Joe’s Crab Shack
On November 11th, all veterans can enjoy 20% off. Valid for parties up to 4.

Juice It Up!
This Veterans Day all veterans and active military will receive a free  20oz Classic Smoothie.

Kolache Factory
Enjoy one free kolache (any kind) and one cup of freshly brewed Katz coffee (any size). All veteran and active military with government-issued military photo ID or DD 214.

Kwikfill
November 11th veterans receive free coffee at Kwik Fill locations.

Lamar’s Donuts
Free donut and a 12oz coffee for all veterans and active military on Veterans Day.

Little Caesars Pizza
On Wednesday, November 11, from 11am to 2pm, veterans and active military members can receive a free Lunch Combo, which features four slices of Little Caesars popular Detroit-style DEEP!DEEP!™ Dish pizza, paired with a 20-ounce Pepsi product.

Logan’s Roadhouse
On Nov. 11, all active duty and retired U.S. military personnel are invited to enjoy a free meal from the American Roadhouse menu in honor of Veterans Day. This offer is available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at all Logan’s Roadhouse restaurants nationwide.

Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
On Veterans Day (Nov. 11), active and former military can enjoy a complimentary dessert, and a 20% discount with proof of service. Veterans receive 20% off the entire month of November for ‘Military Family Month.’

Luna Grill
Luna is offering a “Buy One, Get One Free” deal from Wed., November 11 through Fri., November 13 to any active duty or veteran member of the armed forces at all locations.

Macaroni Grill
This Veterans Day, 11/11, all veterans and active military receive a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti with military ID.

Max & Erma’s
On Veterans Day, participating Max & Erma’s locations are celebrating veterans and active military personnel with a free cheeseburger, endless fries, fountain drink and a chocolate chip cookie.

McCormick & Schmick’s
Veterans of the Military, National Guard, Gold Star Parents and Gold Star Spouses can enjoy a half priced entrée off a select menu on Sunday, November 8, 2020.

Menchie’s Free Frozen Yogurt
On Veterans Day, all Veterans and military personnel with a military ID or proof of service will receive a free six ounce frozen yogurt any time of day on Veterans Day 11.11. Show a valid ID or be in uniform to receive.

Mission BBQ
Veterans and active duty will receive a free sandwich on Veterans Day, 11/11/20.

MOD Pizza
Sign to receive a buy-one get-one free MOD-size pizza or salad with military ID by November 8 and MOD will send you a coupon on November 9 to redeem on #VeteransDay.

Mountain Mike’s
Enjoy 15% off any large pizza this Veterans Day. (coupon code: 178130)

Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub
On 11/11 from 11am – 5pm, Veterans and active military can receive a free entrée from a special Veterans Day menu with the purchase of any other entrée. Dine-in only.

O’Charley’s
All active and retired military service members are invited to enjoy a free meal from O’Charley’s. Restaurant participation may vary by location. O’Charley’s also offers military discount of 10 percent off all year long.

Outback Steakhouse Free Bloomin’ Onion® and a beverage
This Veterans Day all military veterans, active servicemen and women can enjoy a free Bloomin’ Onion and Coca-Cola on November 11th.

Perry’s Steakhouses
Free pork chop dinner to U.S. active military and veterans with the purchase of a dinner entree.

Petro Stopping Centers
All active duty military, veterans and reservists with proof of service can enjoy a complimentary meal from a select menu at any participating Country Pride or Iron Skillet restaurant nationwide.

Pie Five Pizza
On Veterans Day get a free personal pizza at participating locations. Dine-in only.

Pilot Flying J/U.S. Pilot
All active-duty and retired military veterans get a free breakfast including a coffee, Monday through Sunday, Nov. 9-15. The offer is available via the app.

Quaker Steak & Lube
All military veteran, active duty and reservist service members receive free or discounted meals  (up to $15) plus a free non-alcoholic beverage at participating locations on 11/11/20.

Rapid Fire Pizza
Veterans and active duty military get a free dessert pizza or Cheezy Bread with purchase of an entree on Veterans Day this Wednesday, November 11th.

Red Lobster
On Wednesday, November 11th to thank Veterans, active duty military and reservists, Red Lobster will offer a free appetizer or dessert from their select Veterans Day menu. To receive offer, show a valid military ID.

Red Robin
All Veterans and Active Duty Military get a free dine-in Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries. For 2020, to reduce crowding, this offer is available Nov. 12 – Nov. 30.

Rock & Brews
Rock & Brews is offering all active duty military, veterans, and first responders a free pulled pork sandwich or strawberry fields salad on veterans Day at participating locations nationwide.

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
All veterans can enjoy a free entrée from a select Veterans Day Menu.

Rodizio Grill
November 9-12, veterans eat free, with purchase of at least one Adult Full Rodizio meal. Must show Proof of Service to receive discount. Dates may vary by location.

Sagebrush Steakhouse
All veteran and active duty personnel receive a complimentary meal from a select menu. Offer valid from 11am-10pm.

Shane’s Rib Shack
Military personnel and Veterans will receive a free sandwich combo meal at participating Shane’s Rib Shack locations. Offer valid November 11th through November 13th.

Shari’s Café
Free slice of pie and buy one get one free entrée for all current and former military on Veterans Day, November 11th. Valid for dine in and take out only.

Shoney’s
Shoney’s says ‘Thank You’ to America’s heroes by offering a free All You Care To Eat breakfast, to all Veterans and Active Duty Military members on 11.11.20 from open – 11 am.

Smokey Bones
Free desserts on Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for active duty and retired military members.

Snarf’s Sandwiches
All active military & veterans receive a free 7” non-specialty sandwich. This in-store offer is only available 11/11/20.

Sonny’s BBQ
Veterans and active duty military with valid ID will receive a free Pulled or Sliced Pork sandwich plus a voucher for free BBQ Egg Rolls on a future visit.; Dine-in or takeout only.

Starbucks
Active duty service members, reservists, veterans and military spouses are invited to enjoy a free tall (12-ounce) hot brewed coffee.

Sticky Fingers Ribhouse
Wednesday, November 11 Veterans can enjoy a free pull pork sandwich and fries all day.

TA Stopping Centers
All active duty military, veterans and reservists with proof of service can enjoy a complimentary meal from a select menu that includes a beverage on Wed., Nov. 11, 2020, at any participating Country Pride or Iron Skillet restaurant nationwide.

Taco John’s
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, all active, reserve, retired and honorably discharged members of the U.S. military can get a free small Beef #1 Combo Meal who redeem the offer in the Taco John’s App.

Tap House Grill
On Veterans Day, all active, inactive and retired military personnel can get a free meal and a Sam Adams pint while supplies last.

TCBY
First 6oz are free for veterans and active military on 11-11-20.

Texas Roadhouse
is handing out vouchers for a free meal to all Veterans and Active Duty military from 11 am to 2 pm on Veterans Day. Vouchers will be distributed in the parking lots at Texas Roadhouse locations.

Torchy’s Tacos
On Nov. 11, veterans and active military can enjoy a complimentary taco and beverage from a select Veterans Day menu.

Twin Peaks
In honor of veterans Day, all veterans, active duty military and reservists can eat for free from a select menu on Wednesday, November 11th.

Uno’s Pizzeria & Grill
11/11/20 military members (past and present) can enjoy a free entree or individual pizza.

Wendy’s
Wendy’s nationwide are offering a free small breakfast combo with valid military ID. No purchase necessary.

Wienerschnitzel
On Veterans Day, 11/11, Wienerschnitzel is offering a free Chili Dog with a small fry and a small Pepsi to Veterans and Active Duty Servicemembers. Bring your military ID or dress in a uniform.

Yard House
Veterans and active duty military will receive a complimentary appetizer on November 11 with valid military ID. Offer is valid for dine in only.

Ziggi’s Coffee
Veterans get a free 16 oz drink on November 11, 2020 at all Ziggi’s Coffee locations.

Apparel

buybuy BABY — Veterans, active-duty military and spouses get 25% off their entire purchase in-store and online, November 11 to 14.

Columbia Sportswear — Military personnel receive 20% off at all Columbia brand and outlet stores on November 11.

David’s Bridal — Active and retired military members and their immediate families (and fiancés) get an additional 10% off the entire in-store purchase from November 9 through 11. Not valid online.

Rack Room Shoes — Military personnel and their dependents get a 20% discount off the entire purchase on November 11.

Retail Discounts 

Army & Air Force Exchange Service — On November 11, MILITARY STAR card holders will receive various deals, including 10 cents off every gallon of fuel purchased at Exchange Expresses, double rewards points on online and in-store Exchange purchases, $10 off Exchange mall concession or kiosk purchases of $25 or more and 15% off food orders at participating Exchange restaurants. Beyond MILITARY STAR card-exclusive offers, Exchange Expresses and participating restaurants will be serving free coffee on November 11. Exchange Redbox video rental locations will also offer two movies for the price of one November 6 through 13.

Big Lots — In honor of Veterans Day, Big Lots announced they are offering a year-round 10% “Always On” discount for active military personnel and veterans who are members of the company’s Big Rewards program.

Kill Cliff

While Kill Cliff normally offers a 15 percent discount, on Veterans Day they’re extending it to 30 percent off for veterans. Many of their products purchased result in 100% of proceeds donated to specific military charities.  

Target — Active-duty military personnel, veterans and their families get a 10% military discount between November 1 and 11. After eligibility has been verified online, an exclusive, one-time use 10% Target Circle offer will be available to use in-store or online.  

Health and Fitness 

Academy Sports + Outdoors – Military receive 10% off their entire purchase through Nov. 11. This deal is available in stores and online. 

Haircuts

Great Clips – Retired and active service members can receive a free haircut or a card, which is redeemable through Dec. 11, for a free haircut. Nonmilitary customers who get their hair cut on Nov. 11 will also receive a card, redeemable for a free cut, to give to a service member.

Sport Clips – Some locations will offer free haircuts to veterans and active-duty service members and will donate $1 for every haircut provided that day to the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Help a Hero Scholarship fund.

Tech 

Office Depot/OfficeMax – Veterans, active-duty military, retirees, reservists and their dependents get 25% off eligible purchases in stores when they present valid military ID or military dependent ID. This offer runs Nov. 11 to Nov. 13. Some items are excluded, including gift cards, appliances, certain consumer electronics, certain brands and other restricted items.

Samsung – From Nov. 6 to Nov. 11, active-duty military members and veterans can register on Samsung’s site for special deals, including an extra 10% off smartphones, tablets, wearables, mobile accessories and PCs. 

Staples – Active-duty military personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans and their immediate families get a 25% discount November 8 through 14.

Mattresses 

Mattress Firm – From November 11 through 17, veterans and active-duty military members can take advantage of Mattress Firm’s Black Friday Sale and receive an additional 10% off their entire purchase, for total savings up to 60% off.

Sleep Number – Military members can verify their identity on Sleep Number’s site to get a promo code they can use for an extra $100 off smart beds and adjustable bases through Nov. 16.

Home Improvement

Home Depot — Home Depot offers a 10% discount to all veterans on November 11. Home Depot offers a 10% discount year round to active duty and retirees.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations

Pilot/Flying J  – From Nov. 9 to Nov. 15, Pilot and Flying J locations will offer veterans a free coffee (any size) and one free breakfast item. Redeem this offer through the Pilot Flying J app.

Publix – Veterans, active military members and their families can get 10% off groceries on Nov. 11. Some items are excluded, including tobacco, gift cards, alcohol and lottery tickets. You must present a valid military ID to get this offer.

Walgreens — Veterans, military and their families get a 20% discount on eligible regular priced items, November 11 through 15. This in-store offer is only valid in Walgreens or Duane Reade stores.

Travel and Recreation Discounts

9/11 Memorial and Museum — Veterans will receive free Museum admission as well as half-price tickets for three family members from November 7 to 18.

Akron Zoo — Veterans, past and current, receive free admission and immediate family members receive 50% off admission November 7 through 11 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Aquarium of the Pacific — Veterans and military personnel get free admission on November 11.

Arizona State Parks — Admission is free for veterans and active-duty military on November 11.

Army Corp of Engineers Recreation Areas — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will waive day use fees at its recreation areas nationwide November 11.

B&Bs for Vets — The innkeepers participating in the 2020 B&Bs for Vets program will offer a minimum of one room for one night and totally free. Most innkeepers will give their free rooms away on November 10, but offers vary.

Birmingham Zoo — Veterans, active and retired military and their dependents receive free admission from November 11 until 15.

Caesars Entertainment — Veterans and active-duty military who book future travel on Caesars.com from November 4 to 15 get up to 40% off.

Capital Wheel — On November 11, active and retired service members ride free. Accompanying family members are eligible for the military discount. Onsite only.

Cincinnati Zoo — All members of the military will receive free admission on November 11. The offer also allows military personnel to purchase up to six half-price admission tickets for members of their immediate family.

Colonial Williamsburg — Military families can receive a free admission ticket during Veterans Day weekend.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium — Military personnel, both past and present, and their immediate family get free admission on November 11 with military ID or proof of service.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum — On November 11, active-duty and retired armed services members get free admission (including up to three immediate family members), and a 10% discount at Circa: The Museum Store and the Hatch Show Print retail store. Advanced reservations are highly recommended.

Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) — Veterans and military personnel get free rides on November 11.

FantasyWorld Resort — Active-duty service members and veterans receive the Patriots Salute Package, which includes discounts on stays from November 1 through 30 (with a two-night minimum).

Hagley Museum and Library — Current military members, veterans, and their families get free admission on November 11. 

Harley-Davidson Museum — Active military, veterans and their families get free admission on November 11 and 12.

Jefferson Lines — Veterans and active military members get free tickets anytime between November 1 through 11. Free tickets are available for travel departing on November 11 through November 26 for both one-way and round-trip tickets. Veterans and active military members are welcome to return on a different date for round-trip tickets anytime through December 31.

La Quinta by Wyndham — Eligible military members get 12% off the Best Available Rate at participating La Quinta by Wyndham hotels. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members receive 500 bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.

Montgomery Zoo — Veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their dependent family members receive a 50% discount on regular daytime admission to the Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum November 8 through 14.

Monticello — Veterans get complimentary admission November 11. Admission is for the Monticello Self-Guided Pass.

Montpelier — Veterans get a free “Highlights of Montpelier” tour and Museum Shop discount, November 7 and 8.

Mount Vernon — All active-duty, former, or retired military personnel are admitted for free on November 11.

Museum of East Tennessee History — Veterans, active-duty military, and their families get free admission on November 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

National Parks — On November 11, veterans will have access to over 100 National Parks that require entrance fees for free.

National WWI Museum and Memorial — Admission is free for veterans and active-duty military personnel November 7 through 15.

Pro Football Hall of Fame — Veterans and active military plus a guest get free museum admission and parking from November 1 through 15. A 20% off discount in the HOF Store will also be offered in November.

San Antonio Zoo — Active-duty, retired, veteran members of the military, National Guard and Reserves get free admission throughout November. Plus, up to four immediate family members can receive 50% off single day tickets on date of visit.

Sanderling Resort — Current and former military receive discounted rates of $129 per night from November 11, 2020 through March 19, 2021 with an additional 20% off all food, spa and retail.

Sedgwick County Zoo — All military personnel, veterans and their immediate families get complimentary admission on November 11.

Super 8 by Wyndham — Active and retired military members, veterans and their families can enjoy 15% off the Best Available Rate at participating Super 8 by Wyndham hotels. Plus, Wyndham Rewards members receive 500 bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.

True REST Float Spa — Veterans and active-duty military get a free 60-minute float on the 11th of every month, including November 11. For Veterans Day, True REST is also providing appointments to veterans only on November 11.

Woodland Park Zoo — Active, retired, and veteran military personnel and their spouses get free admission on November 11.

World of Coca-Cola — Active duty, reserves and retirees get free admission year-round, and from November 2 to 12 members of the Armed Forces may purchase up to four general admission tickets at half-price for their friends and family. Tickets must be purchased online.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts — Active and retired military members, veterans, and their families save up to 15%, plus receive 500 Wyndham Rewards bonus points for qualified stays booked by December 7 and completed by December 8, 2020.

Zoo Atlanta — Veterans, active-duty, retired and reserve members get free admission and $4 off general admission for up to six accompanying guests on November 11.

Automotive 

Delta Sonic Car Wash — Veterans and active-duty military save $25 on any oil change service throughout November.

Enterprise Car Sales — Active-duty military members, veterans and their dependents who purchase a used vehicle from Enterprise Car Sales are eligible to receive $300 off their vehicle purchase, November 1 through 30.

GM — GM offers special savings for the military November 3 through 30. Grace for Vets — Car washes from around the world who join this program offer free car washes to veterans and service members on November 11.

Articles

Medal of Honor recipient who held off 9 German attacks has died

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced that Medal of Honor recipient Wilburn K. Ross died on May 9, 2017. According to a press release, Ross, who was working in a shipyard before he was drafted, was 94 years old and is survived by six children.


According to his Medal of Honor citation, Ross’s company — assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division — had taken heavy casualties in combat with elite German troops near St. Jacques, France, on Oct. 30, 1944 – losing over 60 percent of the troops. Ross then set his machine gun 10 yards ahead of the other Americans and used it to hold off German forces for eight attacks – receiving less and less help as the other troops ran out of ammunition.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies
Troops from the 3rd Infantry Division in Nuremburg. (US Army photo)

Ross, too, was running low. After the eighth attack, Ross was also out of ammunition. As American troops prepared for a last stand, salvation came in the form of a resupply of ammunition. Ross was able to use that ammunition to defeat the ninth and final German attack.

A profile of Ross on a VA loan site adds some more background. Ross was a dead shot, practicing a trick shot that involved using a .22 rifle to light a match. He later described how he had selected his position beforehand. He also related that he had no idea that a dead soldier he’d been shooting over wasn’t dead at all – it was an Army lieutenant who was alive, and who reported Ross’s actions.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies
The Medal of Honor

Ross would be presented the Medal of Honor on April 14, 1945. During his service in World War II and in the Korean War, he’d be wounded four times. He served in the Army until 1964, when he retired  as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he settled down in DuPont, Washington, where he raised his kids. A park in that town was named in his honor, and includes a monument that displays his Medal of Honor citation on a plaque.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This SEAL commander has 5 tips to transform your life

As commander of US Navy SEAL Team 3’s “Task Unit Bruiser,” the most highly decorated special-operations unit of the Iraq War, Jocko Willink learned what it takes to lead people in incredibly dangerous and complex situations.


The mantra that Willink instilled into his men was “Discipline Equals Freedom,” and it’s the idea that with structure and a strict dedication to it, one can act with more efficiency and freedom.

It’s also the title of his new book, a “field manual” highlighting the core concepts and routines Willink has previously explored on his hit podcast and in his leadership consulting company Echelon Front, which he runs with Leif Babin, one of his former platoon leaders.

Business Insider asked Willink to share some simple habits anyone could adopt in the next 24 hours that could build discipline for the benefit of their well-being, health, and career.

1. Wake up early.

As he writes in the 2015 book “Extreme Ownership,” cowritten with Babin, Willink noticed as a new SEAL that the highest performers he served with were the ones who woke up earliest, beginning their days while others were sleeping. Willink quickly adopted the habit and has long had his alarm set to 4:30 a.m.

“That nice, soft pillow, and the warm blanket, and it’s all comfortable and no one wants to leave that comfort — but if you can wake up early in the morning, get a head start on everyone else that’s still sleeping, get productive time doing things that you need to do — that’s a huge piece to moving your life forward,” Willink said. “And so get up early. I know it’s hard. I don’t care. Do it anyways.”

Willink clarified that he’s not asking people to run on just a few hours of sleep each day. Everyone needs different amounts of sleep to feel well rested and energized for the next day, he said, and if you’re someone who needs eight hours of sleep, then simply start going to bed earlier. And don’t sleep in on the weekends, he said, or else you’ll ruin any progress you’ve made optimizing your schedule.

2. Prepare your gym clothes tonight.

As soon as Willink wakes up, he heads to the home gym he built in his garage. And even if you don’t want to try one of the workout routines in the “Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual,” you should do some form of exercise, Willink said.

“Just do some kind of workout,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s going for a walk around the block, going for a jog, doing some calisthenics, lifting weights, going to a pool and swimming — you name it. But do something that gets your blood flowing and gets your mind in the game.”

The biggest obstacle for people developing workout routines is putting in extra effort to make them work. To make it easier on yourself, Willink said, prepare your workout gear at night so that you can throw it on as soon as you slide out of bed.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies
Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink. | Twitter/Jocko Willink

3. Finish making tomorrow’s to-do list before you go to bed.

As a SEAL, Willink developed a habit of kicking off his day by moving, not thinking. The way he sees it, you’re defeating the purpose of waking up early if you gradually shake off your lethargy and plan out your day over a cup of coffee. Go ahead and drink some coffee, but go work out instead.

“Don’t think in the morning,” Willink said. “That’s a big mistake that people make. They wake up in the morning and they start thinking. Don’t think. Just execute the plan. The plan is the alarm clock goes off, you get up, you go work out. Get some.”

To facilitate this, make tomorrow’s to-do list tonight. You already know what you have to accomplish tomorrow, and you’re better off planning your day out quickly and efficiently.

4. Make use of extra-short power naps.

Willink said a napping habit he borrowed from one of his high-school teachers came in handy during SEAL training and on patrol.

“So if you’re going to wake up early all the time, and you’re working hard, and you’re working out, sometimes you’re going to get tired,” Willink said. “It’s OK. It’s acceptable — somewhat. We’re all human, unfortunately.”

Willink made a habit of getting on the ground with his legs elevated either on a bed or on his rucksack, setting his alarm for just 6 to 8 minutes. As a SEAL, his exhaustion would cause him to actually fall asleep, but even the extra rest is, surprisingly, quite effective.

As for elevating your legs, not only does it feel good, but Carmichael Training Systems notes that while a healthy body can circulate blood well against gravity, swelling of the feet and ankles from extracellular fluid can occur after extended periods of sitting, standing, or athletic activity, he said. Resting your legs above your head may alleviate this swelling and enhance your rest.

5. Ignore your office’s free food.

Willink’s diet is primarily based on meat and vegetables, with very few carbohydrates, and while he doesn’t recommend you adopt his specific diet, he says anyone could benefit from discarding the habit of eating free food at the office.

He said that when people want to be nice, they’ll bring in some comfort food to their break rooms, but “they’re actually sabotaging the health of their coworkers.”

“So what do you do in those situations?” he said. “It’s really easy. Don’t eat. Don’t eat the donuts. Don’t eat the bagels. Don’t eat the slab of pizza.”

“We have food all around us all the time, and if we haven’t eaten for three hours we think we’re starving,” he said. “You’re not starving. Human beings can go for 30 days without food.”

Skip the free food and either get something healthy or skip snacking completely, he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the real reason John McCain’s Liberty Medal speech was so epic

When all was said and done, all the American media saw was a presumed dig at President Donald Trump. But in the speech he gave while receiving the 2017 Liberty Medal, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said much more than that. He looked back on his life, his political career, the events that shaped America – and the events America shaped.


The next day, the headlines raved about McCain’s “half-baked spurious nationalism” dig at the sitting president.

The “half-baked, spurious nationalism” isn’t just a dig a President Trump. The world at large is consumed by the same kind of nationalism the senator from Arizona describes in his speech. A wave of far-right populism has especially swept Europe in the past few years.

French President Emanuel Macron just defeated Marine Le Pen, who wanted to ban any display of religious beliefs – including yarmulkes and turbans – which she considered “not French.” In the UK, far-right broadcaster and analyst Nigel Farage led a campaign that resulted in a vote forcing Britain to leave the European Union, for better or for worse. And across Europe – from Spain to Greece – a wave of far-right nationalist populism and isolationism has captured the interest of the population, each looking for a “scapegoat” of its own.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

The Senator didn’t mention Europe specifically. He did say that America, “the most wondrous land on earth,” still has a special role to play in the world and should rise above the urge to isolate itself from the rest of the world, that American leadership is going to be as necessary in the 21st century as it was in the 20th.

He also implied that Americans should leave the past behind, a not-so-subtle reference to the resurgence of Nazism and Confederate pride in the U.S.’ recent days.

“This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world,” McCain said. “And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on Dec. 7, 1941.”

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies
John McCain after his release from a Vietnamese prison camp, with his father, Retired Admiral John S. McCain.

The 81-year-old Vietnam veteran and former POW went on to speak like a man who is looking back on his life and leaving us with the parting thoughts of a lifelong public servant. McCain was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, and his prognosis was not good.

“We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t,” he said. “We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

Presenting McCain with his medal was former Vice-President, erstwhile Senate opposition, and longtime friend, Joe Biden. The two most notably ran on opposite tickets in the 2008 Presidential Election where McCain lost to the Obama-Biden ticket.

Before Sen. McCain began his remarks, he commented on the multi-decade friendship between the two.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies
Then Vice-President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain share a laugh behind the scenes.

“We served in the Senate together for over 20 years,” McCain said, “during some eventful times, as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening.”

McCain was presented with the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center, a medal meant to honor “men and women of courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over.” Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell.

As he closed, McCain recounted the innumerable people he worked with in his 60 years of service in the Navy and in the U.S. government.

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Senator McCain can’t fully raise his arms due to injuries he suffered as a POW.

“I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me,” McCain said. “I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Delivering new ID cards is now a struggle for the VA

The Department of Veterans Affairs has suspended applications for its new veteran identification card program due to a large number of applicants, according to a notice on its website.


The new, free ID card was ordered by Congress in 2015 as a way to give veterans proof of service at businesses without carrying a copy of their DD-214 forms. The VA, a week ago, rolled out the online application for the card for all honorably discharged veterans, but the system appeared to immediately face technical problems.

Tests by at least two Military.com reporters accessing the site with their own VA logins and military service credentials encountered repeated errors. One was able to successfully complete the process despite multiple rejections and system timeouts.

Currently, however, veterans who look to apply for the card are instead told they need to come back later.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies
(Courtesy photo illustration)

Thank you for your interest in the Veteran Identification Card! Currently, we are experiencing a high volume of traffic. We apologize, and want you to know we’re working to fix the problem,” the notice states. “In the meantime, please enter your email address and we’ll send an update when the Veteran Identification Card application is back online.

Officials with the VA did not respond to requests for information on when the application will be reopened, how many users successfully applied for the ID card before applications were suspended, or how many users started but did not complete the application process.

“We are aware some veterans have experienced issues with the application process, but leaders of VA’s Office of Information and Technology are actively engaged in fixing them,” Curtis Cashour, the agency’s press secretary, said in a statement.

Also Read: The VA is running out of money for Veterans Choice health care program — again

“Still, many Veterans have successfully registered for the card since the program was announced, and we are excited finally to begin providing this resource to Veterans, fulfilling a promise that was made to them more than two years ago under the previous administration,” he added.

To apply for a card, users had to log in to the VA website using either a DS login or the ID.me system, provide a variety of personal information, and upload a copy of a government-issued ID. They also needed to provide a shoulders-up photo to be displayed on the ID card. VA officials said Nov. 29 that users could expect to receive their new ID cards within 60 days of application.

Some veterans, such as those who receive health benefits from the VA and military retirees, already have IDs that can provide proof of service. The new IDs will not qualify as official government-issued identification for air travel or other uses. The ID card program is voluntary.

Articles

This vet threw a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ round for a fellow vet

“Wheel of Fortune” is one of the most popular game shows in the country — running every weekday night at 7:30 PM Eastern Standard Time on most TV stations.


According to a report from the Independent Journal Review, during a November 2015 taping for the Veterans Week shows, Nura Fountano did something that has since gone viral.

During the “Final Spin” puzzle, Fountano, who had a commanding lead over the other two contestants, Troy and Steve, began to make some… questionable letter guesses. She picked the letters “Z,” and “X” and in at least one case, let time run out.

Steve ultimately correctly guessed the puzzle, “Following Footprints,” and won $6,400. Troy, the other vet, came away with $4,300.

The author, who was twice selected for in-person auditions for Jeopardy, notes that there is a minimum of $1,000 in prizes for each contestant. However, contestants usually have to pay for their own airfare and hotel stays related to the appearance on the shows.

The video clip below ends before we find out if Nura won the bonus round – but we think she is a winner, anyhow.

Articles

This storied American brand is helping vets get into their homes — literally

Founded more than 130 years ago, Sears is one of the most recognizable brands in America.


With everything from power tools, to appliances and auto parts — and a myriad other products for every American home — Sears has been a part of making life better for generations.

But the company has gone well beyond simply supplying consumers with the products they need and has played a key role in helping America’s veterans have a safe place to live. For almost a decade, Sears has sponsored the Heroes at Home initiative where it has helped raise more than $20 million to rebuild 1,600 homes across the United States.

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Sears celebrity designer Ty Pennington (third from right) with Sears and Rebuilding Together volunteers look on as a veteran resident is the first to use an accessibility ramp built by the Sears Heroes at Home for the Holidays program at the Open Hearts Residential Living Center for veterans in Decatur, Ga., founded by U.S. Army veteran Missy Melvin. As part of its long-standing commitment to supporting veterans and military families, Sears brought back its Heroes at Home program for the holiday season to immediately assist in building dozens of wheelchair accessibility ramps at the homes of low-income veterans before Christmas. (PRNewsFoto/Sears, Roebuck and Co.)

This year, Sears teamed with the non-profit Rebuilding Together to construct wheelchair access ramps for vets in need. Dubbed the “Heroes at Home for the Holidays” program, Sears shoppers donated more than $700,000 to support the campaign, exceeding the program’s goals.

According to the Center for Housing Policy and the National Housing Conference, 26 percent of post-9/11 veterans (and 14 percent of all veterans) have a service-connected disability and face housing accessibility challenges as they transition from military to civilian life.

“We’re thankful for the incredible generosity of our Shop Your Way members and associates who have carried on Sears’ long tradition of supporting our nation’s veterans and military families,” said Gerry Murphy, Chief Marketing Officer, Sears. “The holidays are not only about giving, but giving back. Our members have proved once again that simple, small gestures by many can result in immediate, long-term impact for America’s veterans.”

See a video of the first Heroes at Home for the Holidays ramp project which was built with the help of celebrity designer Ty Pennington for Air Force vet and non-profit director Missy Melvin and her veteran care facility.

Sears continues to raise funds for Heroes at Home in-store and online through the sale of limited-edition products, including a Kenmore patriotic washer/dryer pair, a Heroes at Home Christmas ornament and a Craftsman hat.  For more information, visit sears.com/heroesathome.

 

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How vet-owned Sword & Plough is repurposing military gear for a mission of peace

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For the Bright-eyed Hope Machine in your squadron:

~ a bag from the brand that’s turning military surplus into vet success 
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Emily and Betsy Nuñez — sisters and co-founders of Sword Plough — represent the kind of entrepreneurial venn diagram that a truly bipartisan American government would engineer in a lab to ensure a Better Tomorrow.

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Sisters, on a bit of a mission…

Growing up at West Point with their father, a 30-year Army veteran, Emily and Betsy were inculcated from an early age with the military life. Emily was one of only three students at Middlebury College in ROTC and would go on to serve on active duty as an intelligence officer with 10th Special Forces Group.

She would also be one of the first women to attend Ranger School.

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At the same time, she and Betsy were laying the groundwork for a classic millennial start-up, a sustainable bags and accessories company dedicated to repurposing materials and people for the betterment of all. Since 2013, they’ve been operating at the energetic epicenter of 21st century feminism, social entrepreneurship, sustainable business modelling and post-9/11 veteran affairs.

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But if there’s one anecdote from the early days of Sword Plough that, above all others, may have foretold the relentless success the company has enjoyed since its founding, it’s this one, from Emily:

Well, just before launching on Kickstarter, we did another business plan competition…at the Harvard Business School, their Pitch for Change Competition. And I got leave from the Army to attend the contest. It was just an amazing experience. We pitched to the audience and the judges and we won first place and the Audience Choice Award, which was just incredible. [But] we almost actually didn’t even have the chance to do the pitch because there was a blizzard that weekend [in Boston] and we were having a really hard time finding a cab…so we ended up hitching a ride with a snow plow…

Uh…hold please. I grew up in New England. Snow plows stop for no one. How did you pull that off?

I sprinted up to him. I was wearing high heels and a dress and I just told him…”We only have 20 minutes to get to Harvard Business School to pitch our idea to repurpose military surplus into bags and to work with veteran American manufacturers and donate part of our profits to veteran organizations!” [H]e waved us in and gave us a ride. It was a pretty lucky moment…

Was luck really the deciding factor? I doubt it. Faced with such a hyper-specific onslaught of enthusiasm, purpose, brains, and brass, what snow plow man — no matter how grizzled — could say no? Who among us would be so gripped with frozen-hearted pessimism that he’d turn such a pitch aside? It’s unimaginable.

The Nuñez sisters have created a recipe that is impossible to deny. Their products are excellent, unique, and sustainable. Their company is staffed by veterans at every level. Their profits are charitably apportioned. Their eyes are on the horizon and their mission is to serve.

**Now till midnight on Tuesday, November 28th, Sword Plough is offering 20% off sitewide with the discount code BLACKFRIDAY**

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company  dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

MIGHTY TRENDING

Xbox is helping VA medical centers support veterans

For active duty military members, playing video games can help release stress, build camaraderie and offer comforting familiarity in foreign environments. For veterans returning from combat, gaming can reduce isolation, renew connections with fellow service members and provide therapeutic benefits.

Recognizing the unique value of gaming for the military community, Microsoft is partnering with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide Xbox Adaptive Controller units to 22 initial VA rehab centers across the U.S.

Launched in 2018, the Xbox Adaptive Controller was created to make gaming accessible to players with limited mobility by enabling them to customize their setups and connect with external devices like buttons, switches and joysticks that accommodate their playing. The controller, which can be used to play Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games, was developed after extensive consultation with gamers, accessibility advocates and nonprofits that work with gamers with limited mobility, including veterans.


Ken Jones, the founder of Warfighter Engaged, a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that provides gaming devices to wounded vets, says the Xbox Adaptive Controller makes gaming accessible to a broader range of veterans.

“People just want to participate, and it’s going to allow them to do that,” he says. “It allows for a much bigger population of people to be included in gaming.”

Microsoft and VA partner to bring Xbox Adaptive Controller to Veterans with limited mobility

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Gaming is a popular activity among the military community, but navigating a traditional controller can be difficult or impossible for injured veterans. The inability to game can mean the loss of connection to veterans’ military communities and to an activity that was a significant part of their lives during service.

The partnership with Microsoft aims to give veterans with limited mobility the opportunity to game again, get them more involved with their rehabilitation and increase social interaction, says Dr. Leif Nelson, director of National Veterans Sports Programs Special Events for the VA.

“We’re looking for platforms for veterans to interact with each other, and the Xbox Adaptive Controller can be that access point to get involved in this world and in the gaming community,” Nelson says. “Gaming is now everywhere in the world, and while people tend to think of it as isolating, we’re finding that it actually has the opposite effect and can increase interactions with other veterans and folks who are non-veterans. I think this can be a tool in the rehabilitation process to achieve a lot of different goals.”

For Jeff Holguin, gaming was a way to cope with the depression and post-traumatic stress disorder he experienced after being discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2003 following an injury. He’d planned on a career in the military, but that identity was suddenly gone. Facing a series of surgeries and feeling adrift in the civilian world, Holguin isolated himself. He turned to gaming, an activity he’d enjoyed since childhood, and found the sense of inclusion he was craving.

“It gave me an outlet, a virtual efficacy within a world that I didn’t feel like I had a place in anymore,” says Holguin. “I made a lot of social connections and friends through that virtual space.”

Holguin went back to school, studying clinical psychology with a focus on trauma and PTSD. He has designed research for Microsoft around mixed-reality devices and learning outcomes and is also a clinical psychology doctoral intern at the Northern Arizona VA Health Care System in Prescott, Arizona. For Holguin, gaming provided a space where he could gradually reintegrate into post-military life.

“It was a sense of belonging and a sense of safety,” he says. “When you have trauma and you’re depressed, sometimes even just a little bit of stimulation is too much and you just don’t have the cognitive or emotional resources to deal with other people’s well-meaning interactivity.

“Gaming gives you what we might call exposure therapy, meaning you get a little bit of socialization, but when you’re ready to turn it off you can turn it off,” Holguin says. “Gaming provided some significant therapeutic value for me.”

Jamie Kaplan, a recreation therapist at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida, has been using gaming as therapy with his patients — about 25 percent of whom have had traumatic spinal injuries — for seven years.

Kaplan, himself an avid gamer, says gaming provides a range of therapeutic benefits. Manipulating a controller and pressing buttons, for example, can help with motor skills. Decisions made throughout a game, from choosing which character to play to which moves to make, requires cognitive processing and visual processing, he says.

“It’s fine motor skills, gross motor skills, decision-making ability, information processing, cognitive processing,” Kaplan says. “We can assign a number of therapeutic values to gaming.”

Introducing the Xbox Adaptive Controller

www.youtube.com

Kaplan used various gaming systems and consoles with patients before getting an Xbox Adaptive Controller last fall. He particularly likes the Copilot feature, which was developed for Xbox One and links two controllers as if they were one, allowing players to team up on a game and share controls. The feature quickly became one of Xbox’s most popular ones and was built into the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

One of his patients, Kaplan says, was able to play with his brother for the first time in three years by using Copilot. “It’s amazing,” Kaplan says. “It allows me as the therapist to make up for whatever deficit the patient has in utilizing a regular controller or the adaptive controller.”

Kaplan uses games ranging from sports and racing games to virtual reality games and programs that allow veterans with limited mobility to try activities such as scuba diving, fishing or hiking. VR is useful for helping amputees work on balance, Kaplan says, and VR guided relaxation and meditation programs can help veterans reduce stress and anxiety — and potentially reduce reliance on pain medications such as opioids.

“I see chronic pain patients every day and tell them, ‘I’m not going to cure your pain; we’re just hoping to trick it for a little while,'” he says. “You’re distracting them from the pain by engaging them in gaming.”

Gaming has been part of Mike Monthervil’s life since his childhood growing up in Carrefour, Haiti, a suburban area southwest of Port-au-Prince. Monthervil’s family was one of the only ones in the neighborhood with a gaming system, but electricity was only available for part of each day. When the lights would come back on, Monthervil recalls, “every kid would be banging on our door to come and play a game.”

For Monthervil, gaming was a passion that also provided an escape from a challenging environment. “It was a very tough place to live. Kids don’t have a lot to do there,” he says. “Gaming made my childhood better. It took a lot of stress out for me.

“To this day, I still talk to the guys who are over there that I grew up with, that are still going through the hardship of being there,” he says.

Monthervil continued gaming after moving to the United States and later enlisting in the U.S. Army. Stationed in Afghanistan, he passed time playing games with his fellow soldiers between missions. But in July 2014, Monthervil sustained a serious spinal cord injury after falling backward into a ditch during a training session, leaving him unable to use his legs. He underwent surgery and spent nine months at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, Florida. There he met Kaplan, who helped him adapt his gaming to accommodate the dexterity limitations caused by his accident.

Kaplan gave Monthervil an adaptive controller to try several years ago, but it was cumbersome and difficult for him to use. After getting an Xbox Adaptive Controller, Kaplan created a custom set-up for Monthervil by adding a few additional buttons. Monthervil recently got one of the controllers at home and says it works better for him than any device he’s tried since his injury.

“Of all the adaptive stuff I’ve tried, it’s by far the best one,” says Monthervil, who’s 26.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

Photo of Mike Monthervil gaming with the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

(Microsoft)

The Xbox collaboration is part of a strategic partnership between Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs dating back more than 20 years. Recent efforts under the partnership have focused on equipping VA employees with productivity and collaboration technologies, migrating VA legacy systems to the cloud and using advanced analytics in VA call centers to give veterans better information to make decisions about their benefits and medical care.

Toni Townes-Whitley, president of U.S. Regulated Industries at Microsoft, says the Xbox Adaptive Controller collaboration is part of a broader effort to improve therapeutic and clinical care for veterans. But its fundamental goal is to harness technology to improve veterans’ lives, she says.

“It’s an example of using technology as a means to a much more significant end, which is a sense of belonging, being part of a team, a sense of reconnection, a sense of family,” she says.

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, sees the collaboration as an ideal pairing of Microsoft’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in gaming with the vast reach of the VA, which serves more than 9 million veterans nationwide in its health care system.

“Everyone can play games, and we really focus on that as an organization,” he says. “With the VA being the largest integrated health care provider in the U.S., we thought it was a perfect opportunity to bring our focus on gaming and the great work that the VA is doing together.”

Microsoft will use feedback and data collected by the VA centers to determine how effective the Xbox Adaptive Controller is in serving veterans and how the device might be improved going forward, Townes-Whitley says. Nelson believes the initiative will serve not just existing gamers, but also veterans who weren’t previously into gaming.

“If we do our job well and we’re able to expose veterans to (the Xbox Adaptive Controller) as a possible tool or intervention in their rehab process, I expect to find successes even in those folks who have never gamed before in their lives,” he says.

A 2018 study found that gaming can relieve stress for veterans, help them cope with moods and provide a way to connect. Kaplan also sees the Xbox Adaptive Controller as an equalizer for veterans and others with disabilities.

“One of the biggest things kids and adults with disabilities face is the stigma of being different. Online, we’re all the same,” he says. “I could be missing my arms or my legs and you wouldn’t know it. Gaming really helps to promote that feeling of normalcy and feeling of belonging.

“I have a lot of respect for Xbox seeing and filling a need for making something that allows military members and anyone who has a disability to be able to game,” Kaplan says.

“I think it’s great for a mainstream company like Microsoft to be the one to take the first step. I hope it encourages other companies to do that.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Syracuse University just changed military education forever

For years, there was one benefit the Air Force had over all branches of the military, the one thing you could only get by crossing into the blue: an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force, a two-year, accredited degree program that integrates all your military training with the addition of just a few general courses. You couldn’t get it with the Army or Navy.

Now, members of any branch can start a similar program to earn a degree from Syracuse University – for free.


In an age of skyrocketing tuition that has Presidential candidates debating if colleges and universities have gone too far, Syracuse University is opening its doors to more and more people, especially America’s active duty troops, reservists, National Guard members, and veterans.

With part-time learners like U.S. military members in mind, the school has created a way for the entire armed forces to go Orange. Syracuse University has aligned the part-time tuition rates it charges active duty members enrolled in online classes to match the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) reimbursement. This means no matter where they’re stationed, if they want a degree from a top-tier four-year university, they can have it without ever touching GI Bill benefits.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

The move is part of Syracuse University’s and Chancellor Kent Syverud’s dedication to the U.S. military, its veterans, and their families. Since Syverud took his post in 2014, his administration has taken enormous steps to further serve veteran students and their families. The number of military-connected students at the university has skyrocketed more than 500 percent in five years. The school even employs veteran admissions advisors who help military members transition from the service to student life, assisting with GI Bill and other Veterans Affairs processes. Syracuse even has a number of special programs dedicated to veteran student successes – including veteran-only offices, study areas, advisors, immersion programs, and even legal clinics.

It’s no wonder Military Times voted Syracuse the number one private school for veterans.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

Syracuse University’s 2019 Veterans Commencement Graduates.

Syracuse has a long history of supporting American veterans. While the school recently established the interdisciplinary Institute for Veterans and Military Families, an on-campus non-profit that works to advance veterans’ post-military lives nationwide (not just at Syracuse), the school’s commitment to vets dates back to the end of World War II, when the school guaranteed admission for all veterans. Its university college for part-time students was initially created for veterans who couldn’t study full-time. Since then, the school has specially trained thousands of the Pentagon’s officers, photojournalists, and other disciplines in the military. Syracuse even allowed Marines deployed to the 1991 Gulf War to continue their studies independently.

Their work continues, with partnerships to train entrepreneurial military spouses backed by Google, conducting studies to tackle veteran unemployment and homelessness, and even testifying before the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, no one is more dedicated to the post-military success of American veterans. If you’re looking for a powerful, positive community of veterans to join when leaving the military, look no further.

Veterans

How one company is boosting the morale – and success – of veteran entrepreneurs

This article is sponsored by Bunker Labs.

Veterans In Residence program, a partnership of Bunker Labs and WeWork, is a six-month business incubator that is revolutionizing entrepreneurship for veterans — just ask Bryan Jacobs. 

Jacobs never intended to join the U.S. Navy.

“When I joined the military, every male in my family had served,” the Tampa-based entrepreneur told We Are The Mighty. “There was a long line of service there. I wasn’t pressured into it, but it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to be the first male in my family to go to college, but I was young and naive and it didn’t work out that way.”

When Jacobs left the military in 2005 after six years of service, he felt lost.

“When I got out of the military, I went through a lot of changes and became homeless,” he shared, saying much of his identity had been linked to his military career. “I wasn’t ready for anything that the outside world had to offer. In fact, I came out of the military rather quickly. I left Iraq November 5 and was out by November 25. There was no transition or support. It was a different world then.”

Inspired by the legacy of his grandfather, a chef, Jacobs leaned into his entrepreneurial spirit to navigate his newly-minted civilian life. Still homeless, he signed up for culinary school.

“I love to cook so much I took two cookbooks to Iraq that I could read. It took me out of the pain of life and the emotional struggles I was living in,” he shared. “I went to culinary school in 2008. I was couch surfing, sleeping in a garage and had a part-time job as a trainer, where I could take showers. I had made some bad choices and didn’t have a lot of knowledge and didn’t understand the power of knowledge.”

In May of 2014, Jacobs tragically lost his younger brother, who also served, to suicide. It was the wake-up call he needed to reevaluate his life and shift perspectives.

“I felt responsible as a brother in arms, but also as a brother in general,” he shared. “I kept asking myself,  ‘Why am I still here?’ and ‘What is the light in the darkness?’”

Through personal growth and introspection, Jacobs launched Vets 2 Success, a nonprofit organization that supports homeless and displaced veterans in finding their passion and purpose through food and brew programs.

Jacobs shared an exercise in which he challenges veterans to think about the specific ingredients in their favorite foods and equates it to ‘bad ingredients’ in life.

“If there are bad ingredients in the recipe, would it still be seen the same? Of course not,” he shared. “So if you have all these bad ingredients in your life, that’s how you are going to be seen. That’s how easy it is to inspire them to see their personal changes. What we’re doing is helping them see the process that needs to be enveloped. And those ingredients don’t come overnight. They don’t come in a quick trip that can be solved tomorrow, but it’s a process to get to the plate. This is how we talk about retraining their minds to look at problems and find solutions.”

bunker labs

As his nonprofit grew, Jacobs continued to seek both personal and professional development, which is how he discovered the Veterans In Residence program. The program, a partnership of Bunker Labs and WeWork, is a peer-facilitated, six-month business incubator that provides military-connected entrepreneurs, including veteran small business owners, a networking community, business skills and a workspace to help launch and grow their business.

Currently operating in 23 major cities, Veterans In Residence helps entrepreneurs take their business ideas to the next level through facilitated accountability and connections.

“We look for the companies we select for these programs to be at  a point where they can really leverage their time in the cohort as much as possible and also be a value add for their peers,” Ann Cardona of Bunker Labs, shared. 

Jacobs took on the rigorous application process, was accepted and began the cohort in July 2020 for a new arm of his existing nonprofit. The entrepreneur and aspiring innovationist recommends that applicants come with direction, but be open-minded for that plan to shift.

“My plan has completely grown in different aspects and avenues than I ever thought,” Jacobs shared on his experience with the six-month program. “Be okay with good, constant feedback and be prepared to be challenged. That was something that took me by surprise. Of course everyone is in love with their own idea. You have to hear from others that they believe in your idea. It gave me a boost of confidence that other entrepreneurs believed in it. As an entrepreneur you feel crazy already. The program gave me the confidence to say – this is going to work, but it’s not going to be easy and that’s okay.”

The next Veterans In Residence cohort, set to begin in early 2021, will be the most diverse yet. Bunker Labs anonymized the applications in the selection process, ensuring they were blind to names, gender, location and ethnicity.

“There were three of us that looked at all 409 companies that had a legal entity set up to ensure consistency throughout the process,” Cardona said. “The IT team set up a comprehensive application process and rubric for applicants. We wanted to make sure there were no unconscious biases in the selection process. We broke them back up into locations after the initial screening and we did a virtual group interview with the top 20 candidates in each location to get to our final eight. We will have two virtual cohorts that are a conglomerate of entrepreneurs from across the nation where Bunker Labs does not currently have a coworking space agreement (such as with WeWork) already established.

bunker labs

Cardona stated that Bunker Labs aims to have the upcoming cohort be the most impactful yet by ensuring everyone has a legal entity set up prior to the cohort beginning. 

For companies that are not at this point yet, Bunker Labs encourages them to join the Bunker Online community, focus on Launch Lab Online, and participate in workshop series that are designed to get prospective cohort applicants ready for the next Veterans In Residence cohort.

“Almost all of the companies are out of the ideation phase and most are already seeing some traction, which is different than past cohorts where we still had a good number that were very much in ideation,” Cardona shared. “We also chose companies that had more defined goals and were able to be vulnerable and honest about where they were in their businesses and what their true needs were. If the cohort members already have a good idea of where they are going and what they need from us, it is much easier for us to connect them with the correct resources and have a bigger impact on their business.”

“The best part of Veterans In Residence was the city leaders,” Jacobs said. “Just having people who cared about you, who are trying to run their own businesses, but they are there to help you. When they said they were going to get things done, they did. It was having that confidence. As an entrepreneur you hear all the time – hey I’m gonna hook you up – but everyone has an agenda. None of these people had a [personal] agenda.”

Nearly two decades removed from war, Jacobs still draws parallels to his time in the military with his current role as a founder and entrepreneur.

“Walking through life as an entrepreneur is like combat – you’re just hoping for success that you come out on the other side,” he said. “Veterans In Residence helped propel my confidence as an entrepreneur. It helped me realize there’s something bigger – it’s not a personal endeavor and I didn’t have that feeling going in, but coming out the other side there is a completely new perspective laid before me.”

This article is sponsored by Bunker Labs.

MIGHTY TRENDING

VA diagnoses 4,000 cases of colon cancer each year: how to get screened at home

Denise put off a screening colonoscopy for two years. When she finally did, she was diagnosed with rectal cancer.

“I was fortunate. My cancer was in the early stages and surgery offered me a cure. The prep was not that bad. The sedation made me wonder, ‘Is that all there is to it?’ The moral of my story is if I had waited until I had symptoms, it would have been too late.”

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths, behind lung cancer. The yearly death toll from colorectal cancer in America exceeds the total number of American combat deaths during the entire Vietnam War.


The Veterans Health Administration recommends screening for colorectal cancer in adults age 50 through 75.

The decision to screen for colorectal cancer in adults age 76 through 85 should be an individual one, taking into account the patient’s overall health and prior screening history.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

Six out of ten deaths could be prevented

In the past decade, colorectal cancer has emerged as one of the most preventable common cancers. If all men and women age 50 and older were screened regularly, six out of ten deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Screening is typically recommended for all between the ages of 50 and 75 years. VA diagnoses some 4,000 new cases of the disease each year in veterans.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. It’s as common in women as it is in men. Most colorectal cancers start as a growth called a polyp. If polyps are found and removed before they turn into cancer, many colorectal cancers can be prevented.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: A perfect time for veterans to get screened.

Questions? Here are the answers, including symptoms and how to prevent colon cancer.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

7 pieces of gear vets will still use in the civilian world

The Central Issuing Facility loans plenty of great and not-so-great items to the troops. Many pieces of gear, like the load-bearing vest and the elbow pads, were tossed back with no remorse, but others are just too damn useful to part with.


Whether they’re listed as expendable, given to the troops with no intention of reclamation, or they’re swapped with a second one bought at the surplus store off-installation, troops just can’t part with these things.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

The MOLLE straps let you know that it’s legit — not some imitation.

(Photo by Sgt. Patrick Eakin)

Assault pack

Go to any college campus in America and within ten seconds, you’ll identify who’s using the GI Bill to pay for tuition. Rarely will a vet switch back to a civilian backpack after using the assault pack.

It’s much sturdier than anything you can find in the back-to-school section and it’s free, so… why not?

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

Even if vets have the options, they’ll only use the multi-tool.

(Photo by Pedro Vera)

Multi-tool

Most civilians will stockpile an entire drawer full of miscellaneous tools. Veterans who were issued a multi-tool will just use the one.

Sure, civilians can get their own versions, but there’s just something badass about fixing stuff around the house with a Gerber that has a front sight post adjuster.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

Basically what every veteran’s closet looks like.

(Photo by Mike Kaplan)

Duffel bags

Throughout a troop’s career, they sign off a lot of junk that’s never going to be touched again — even after they clear CIF for the last time. This leads to every veteran owning their very own “duffel bag full of crap.”

The bag may get re-purposed for storing other things, but nine times out of ten, it’s still full of the same crap that was stuffed in there years ago.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

I’m totally not talking about myself… Totally.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Taylor Newman)

E-tool

Standard shovels are far too bulky to keep around. Collapsing an entrenching tool and tossing it in the trunk is kind of necessary if you live in a state that gets terrible snowfall.

Even if you’re not using it to get your car out of a snowbank because you’re too damn proud to call someone for help and you want to prove to yourself that you’re still a competent survivor and driver, it still makes for a great way to dig holes at a moment’s notice.

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Just sayin’. After people stop mocking you for wearing snivel gear, your resistance to the weather goes down — fast.

(Photo by Airman Areca T. Bell)

Thermals

Troops don’t often get the chance to wear their thermals while in the military without enduring ridicule from their peers. The moment they get out, they finally have the opporunity.

The same thermals can be spotted on both veterans who are out hunting and veterans that just don’t feel like wearing civilian pajamas.

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Doesn’t matter if our older brothers hate it. We don’t mind be hated and comfortable.

(Photo by Spc. Michael Sharp)

Poncho liner

After veterans get out, they’ll be cuddling on the couch with their significant other, watching TV while draped in some regular old throw blanket. But it just isn’t the same. It’s not their poncho liner or, as it’s more affectionately known, their woobie.

That throw blanket from Bed, Bath, and Beyond didn’t deploy with them. That throw blanket wasn’t their only companion in the bizarrely cold desert nights. That throw blanket wasn’t the only piece of military gear that was fielded with the express intention of being used for comfort.

No, only the woobie holds that special place in the hearts of younger veterans.

The ultimate, big bad list of 2020 Veterans Day discounts and freebies

The greatest ten-cent beer opener ever!

(Courtesy photo)

P-38 can openers

These items aren’t really ranked in any particular order. But if they were, the can opener would certainly top the list. Many troops swear that their beloved woobie is the most cherished, but older generations of veterans will confess a deep love for their can opener.