You may be celebrating Veterans Day differently this year because of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some deals and discounts waiting for you. Veterans Day isn’t just about saving money, but these offers are just one way businesses and organizations show they’re grateful for the service of military and veterans. Some establishments offer year-round discounts, too.
Because of COVID, some establishments have had to close or limit their operations. And situations do change day to day, so above all, if you’re going to a restaurant for a discount, for example, call ahead to find out if they’re actually open, and whether they are participating in the discount program. Find out what their safety protocol is to make sure you’re protected, and what you need to do… such as bring a mask!
One thing of note this year: We’re eating out differently now, using third-party delivery services, etc. In perusing discount offers, we’ve noticed that some restaurants restrict the discount to dine-in or carryout, and don’t apply it to online orders or third-party deliverers, for example. So if you’re counting on that discount, make sure you clarify ahead of time.
The discounts come in various sizes and may have various exclusions. These are a few for starters, but we’re maintaining a running list and will update it at least several times over the next week or so. Check back for deals offered by restaurants, hotels, retail establishments and other businesses. Email Senior Reporter Karen Jowers at firstname.lastname@example.org with your additions and suggestions.
If you don’t see a favorite establishment on the list, ask them if they offer a military discount. They may offer it, but may not have a sign in the store. Just remember that nobody is required to offer a discount or deal, (with the exception of military stores and ticket and tour offices.)
Be aware that the free meal may be offered to you, but not to your other family members. That’s entirely up to the business owner, but it helps you to know that ahead of time so you’ll be prepared to pay before you enter an establishment with your family members.
Check out our “Before you go” section at the bottom of this article to save yourself some headaches.
And don’t forget your mask.
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FOOD AND DRINK
Houlihan’s: Offering $10 off a $30 food purchase on Nov. 11, for active duty and other veterans and military families. The offer is valid for in-restaurant dining or for carryout; but orders through their website or a third-party delivery service aren’t eligible. The offer may vary in some markets, but the $10 off $30 purchase is available at all 10 restaurants in New Jersey; and in Pittsburgh, for example. For the nearest Houlihan’s restaurant, operating hours and to confirm the Veterans Day special, visit their website. Year-round, Houlihan’s offers a 15 percent discount on food to all active duty and other veterans, with proof of service.
Little Caesars: Offering a free Hot-N-Ready Lunch Combo to active duty and other veterans, on Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. . The combo features four slices of their Detroit-style deep-dish pizza, with a 20-ounce Pepsi product. Present proof of service such as ID card, DD-214, or an ID card with veteran designation.
Pilot and Flying J Travel Centers: Offering one free breakfast combo and a free Pilot coffee of any size, at participating locations, from Nov. 9 through Nov. 15. Eligible are active duty and other veterans. The offer will be available through the Pilot Flying J app and can be redeemed at any participating U.S. Pilot and Flying J travel center.
Red Lobster: Offering a free appetizer or dessert on Nov. 11, to active duty and other veterans with a valid ID. The offerings include seven appetizer selections ranging from lobster and langostino pizza to mozzarella cheesesticks; and four dessert selections ranging from vanilla bean cheesecake to key lime pie. Find locations and information here.
Shoney’s: Offering a free, all-you-can-eat, breakfast bar on Nov. 11 from opening until 11 a.m. Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy and fresh fruit are just a few of the offerings for active duty and other veterans. The free breakfast bar is dine-in only, with no purchase required, but coffee and beverages cost extra. For locations click here.
Starbucks: Offers a free tall (12-oz) cup of coffee to active duty and other veterans, and military spouses on Nov. 11, at participating U.S. Starbucks stores.
Torchy’s Tacos: Offering a free taco and a non-alcoholic beverage on Nov. 11 to active duty and other veterans. Veterans can choose from a special menu of five different tacos, such as the Trailer Park Taco and the Fried Avocado Taco. The offer is available for dine-in and pick up orders placed by phone or in person. Military ID or other proof of service is required. For information, and to find one of the 80 locations nationwide near you, click here.
National Corvette Museum: Free admission through Nov. 30 to this museum in Bowling Green, Ky., for active duty and other veterans. Accompanying family members will receive a $2 discount on admission. Ticket prices are normally $12 for adults; $10 for seniors 61-plus; $7 for youth ages 5 to 12; and age 4 and under are free. The offer is also open to firefighters, police and first responders. Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central time. For more information, visit their website.
National WWII Museum: Offering free admission to the museum, located in New Orleans, to veterans of all conflicts on Nov. 11. The museum also plans commemorative programming with a livestream available at 11 a.m. Central time Nov. 11.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas: Fees are waived for day use on Nov. 11 at the more than 2,850 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide. The waiver covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches; it doesn’t apply to camping and camping-related services, or fees for specialized facilities such as group picnic shelters, or events. Visitors should contact USACE lake and river projects beforehand to make sure the recreation areas are open. The status of these areas is available here.
World of Coca-Cola: While the attraction in Atlanta offers year round free admission to military members and retirees, the company is offering half-price tickets for up to four friends and family members to join the service members and retirees at the museum and attraction on Monday through Thursday, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 12. Normally general admission tickets for adults are $18; for seniors 65-plus, $16, and youth, $14. Toddlers 2 and under a free. Tickets must be purchased online using promotional code “vets2020” and members will be asked for their military ID at the ticket window.
Tickets and tours: These offices, which are part of installations’ morale, welfare and recreation programs, offer a variety of discounts exclusive to the military community for local and national entertainment and recreational activities, many of which can only be obtained at these offices. Check with your local office, which you can find via Military OneSource’s installation directory at the bottom of its homepage.
Maxwell House: Beginning Nov. 9, active duty members and other veterans can visit coupons.com to download a coupon for a free coffee canisters. The Maxwell Houses for Heroes pack is a 1-pound or 3-pound canister of coffee. The coupon can be redeemed online or at participating retailers from Nov. 9 through Nov. 16.
Target: Active duty and other veterans and their families receive a 10-percent discount on a purchase, in stores or online, from Nov. 1 through Nov. 11. To get the discount, register at www.target.com/circle/military so that your eligibility can be verified. After that verification, a one-time use Target Circle offer will be available. Some exclusions apply. More information is available here.
QALO: Free wedding ring from the U.S. Military Silicone Ring Collection, for active duty and other veterans, available through Nov. 30. Normally priced at $19.95, it features the service branch’s logo imprinted into the silicone. Military service must be validated through GovX, which is a website offering discounts on a variety of products to military, police and first responders .
GB Auto Service, Inc.: Active duty and other veterans in five cities can get a free lube, filter and oil change of up to five quarts, through Nov. 30. The brands in those cities are BRAKEmax in Tucson, Ariz.; Tire Works in Las Vegas, Nevada; Ramona Tire in Inland Empire, Calif.; Tate Boys in Tulsa, Okla.; and Driver’s Edge in Dallas/Fort Worth. Texas. In addition, in two other cities, these veterans can buy three tires and get one free at Louetta Automotive in Houston, Texas and Lamb’s Tire in Austin, Texas.
Great Clips: On Nov. 11, visit a salon and get a free haircuts or a free haircut card that can be redeemed through Dec. 11. Retired and active duty service members are eligible. In addition, non-military customers who get a haircut on Veterans Day at a Great Clips salon will receive a free haircut card to give to a service member. Now through Nov. 6, people can nominate an active duty or retired service member to receive free haircuts for a year, plus a $350 gift card. Two people will be randomly selected through this social media campaign, instructions are available here. Great Clips has more than 4,400 salons throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the previous seven years Great Clips has offered this program, it has provided more than 1.6 million haircuts.
BEFORE YOU GO
• Check the fine print, and call the participating organization to be sure the offer is available at the time you plan on arriving. That’s especially important during these days of COVID, when an establishment may have had to shut down in the last day or two.
• Don’t forget your mask.
• Let the host, cashier, attendant, reservation agent or other relevant employee know up front that you want the discount or deal.
• “Free” isn’t always completely free. A free meal doesn’t always come with a drink, for instance. Be prepared to pay for extras such as taxes, (and to tip). Most restaurants require patrons to dine in if they want the deal.
• Call ahead to local establishments to be sure they are aware of, and are participating in, national chain programs. Confirm availability and what type of ID is required.
• Not all offers apply to veterans of all stripes. Be sure you are eligible and you have the appropriate ID/paperwork.
• Not all discounts apply to the entire party. Be sure you’re clear whether family members or guests are covered in the discount.
• Always check with your local installation’s tickets and tours office before making plans for travel and visiting local attractions. They work with local and national companies to offer discounts on a variety of hotels and attractions, and many of these deals are available only through that installation office.
• It doesn’t hurt to ask a company whether they offer a military discount before you book a reservation or order from your waitress. But don’t act like you expect it.
About Karen Jowers
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families.” She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.