Today marks the 60th Anniversary of Veterans Day in the United States. Originally called “Armistice Day,” commemorating the end of World War I, it was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 by President Eisenhower to acknowledge veterans of the Second World War and Korea. Today, the holiday serves to remind the country of the sacrifices veterans have made throughout the nation’s history.

Cities across the country will be holding special events and ceremonies to mark the occasion. In New York City, the 2014 America’s Parade is expected to draw in a crowd of over 600,000. In Washington D.C., a Veterans Day Concert for Valor will be held, and organizers are expecting as many as 700,000 to attend. The Boston Globe reports that a State House Veterans Commemoration Ceremony will be held in the city’s Memorial Hall.

Retail Stores Get In the Spirit

In addition to state and city government, several retail and restaurant chains will be celebrating the holiday by offering discounts and free deals to service members. Vets and those still on active duty can receive a free tall coffee at their nearest Starbucks. At California Pizza Kitchen, a special free menu will be available for veterans and those still in the military. Other companies offering Veterans Day specials include:

  • 24-Hour Fitness
  • Applebee’s
  • Bob Evans
  • Bonanza Steakhouse
  • Chili’s
  • Golden Corral
  • Great Clips
  • Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt
  • Hooter’s
  • IHOP
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Red Lobster
  • Shoney’s

Are We Doing Enough?

Of course, Veterans Day isn’t just about free restaurant deals. In light of the recent accusations made against the nation’s Veterans Affairs hospitals, several pieces of legislation have been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives to help improve the lives and care of the country’s veterans. The intent of the bills is to extend veterans’ benefits; improve medical services to those who have experienced brain trauma; increase cost-of-living adjustments for those receiving disability compensation; and reform the Veterans Affairs patient processing system.

But is this enough? Several non-profit organizations have called for even more reforms and increased support for veterans, and claim that the most important issues are still not being addressed. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has called for an increased focus on suicide prevention for veterans throughout the country.

“The VA reports that 22 veterans lose their lives to suicide every day,” IAVA said in a recent press release. “This is a striking statistic, and it will take Congress’s focused attention and committed effort to finally do something about this mounting crisis during the lame-duck session.”

To learn more about Veterans Day celebrations and events, visit the website.