If there’s any group in our country that is overworked, underpaid and under appreciated, it is those serving in the military. It’s not a 9-to-5, 40-hour-a -week job. It involves long stretches away from family and friends. If you end up being deployed to another part of the world, you may be living in not so great conditions, in severe weather situations, in constant fear, deprived of sleep and good food, missing holidays with your loved ones and being put through a lot of physical and mental stress. Yet those who do it don’t expect a big paycheck or a pat on that back. However, no one deserves it more.
I’m so happy to be part of a group that recognizes how valuable and selfless these individuals are and does something each year to honor them. As a member of the Lansing Junior Woman’s Club, I’ve had the opportunity to help host a dinner for our veterans each year in April.
This annual project started by our club just wanting to round up some local veterans and treat them to a meal as our way of saying “thank you” for all they have done. It started small with about 60 people at the dinner. It has grown each year and we outgrew our original venue and last year we welcomed more than 200 to the dinner.
Not only do we honor our veterans on this evening, but we also invite them to bring a guest. We know the sacrifices aren’t limited to the veterans, but their families also deserve thanks. The dinner is free for the veteran (or active military personnel) and a guest. There are a lot of couples who come to the dinner together or sometimes a son, daughter, grandchild or sibling accompanies the veteran.
The dinner is paid for by the club's fundraising efforts and donations from other organizations. The Lansing Lions generously donates every year to make it happen. The Lansing Copper Muggers are also pitching in this year to help. With these contributions we are able to grow and honor more of our vets each year. Many local businesses also provide prizes for the event.
It feels so good at the event to look around the room and see men and women who have served in all branches of the military, from World War II to the present and think that we’ve brought them all together and can for one evening let them and their families know how many people appreciate their service. There are so many vets I’ve come to know by name who come to the dinner year after year and every year there are new faces to whom we are able to express our gratitude.
So, to all vets in the area, mark your calendar for 5 p.m. April 18 for the fifth annual Veteran Appreciation Dinner at the Lansing Knights of Columbus Hall, 17800 Lorenz Ave., and spread the word to other veterans you know. Reservations are required to attend and seating is limited. To RSVP call (708) 895-8982 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know your name and the name of your guest, your phone number, branch of service, years served and how you learned about the dinner. Reservations will be taken until April 8.