You know more than anyone that 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 of these offers may extend a few days beyond Veterans Day; some establishments offer year-round discounts, too.
Because of COVID, labor shortages, supply chain issues and other factors, 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 you need to bring in terms of proof of military service. While most don’t specifically state their discount applies to Guard and Reserve, they probably do. Just check.
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. 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 no civilian commercial establishment is required to offer a discount or deal.
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.
Food and drink
Applebee’s: Offering a full-size entree from a special menu to active duty and other veterans, on Nov. 11, for dine-in only. In addition, veterans will receive a $5 card to redeem for dine-in, to go, or delivery within three weeks. Proof of service such as military ID, DD-214, or other documentation required.
Arizona Charlie’s Casinos, Las Vegas: PT’s Express at both Las Vegas locations will offer a 20-percent discount on all food and beverage orders and all their casino bars will offer draft beers for $2 for active and retired military with a military ID.
Bob Evans: Offering a free meal from a special menu of seven entrees, to active duty and other veterans, Nov. 11, dine-in only. Military ID or other proof of service required.
Buffalo Wild Wings: Offering a free order of 10 boneless wings and fries for active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Valid for dine-in or takeout only; online ordering excluded. Proof of service required.
California Pizza Kitchen: Free meal and beverage for active duty and other veterans at all participating locations nationwide on Nov. 11, from a select menu. That includes a choice of one of their California-inspired pizzas, pastas or full-size salads, when dining in. Proof of service such as military ID required. A “buy one-get one” card will be provided for a return visit from Nov. 12-20.
Caribou Coffee: Offering a free small cup of coffee on Nov. 11, to active duty members, other veterans and their spouses. The offer is available in-store at their 450 locations. Ask for the discount when ordering.
Chicken Salad Chick: Offering a free Chick Special and regular drink to active duty and other veterans, with identification, on Nov. 11. More than 200 locations in 17 states.
Denny’s: Offering a free “Build Your Own Grand Slam” to active duty and other veterans, from 5 a.m. to noon Nov. 11 at participating locations, dine in only. Valid military ID or DD 214 required.
Duffy’s Sports Grill: Offering a free meal, valued at up to $15, to active duty and other veterans from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 11, with proof of service. Year round, Duffy’s offers all active duty military 40 percent off food purchases every day. Duffy’s has 33 locations in Florida.
EG America Group convenience stores: Offering free coffee to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11 at its 1,700 convenience stores — Cumberland Farms, Certified Oil, Fastrac, Kwik Shop, Loaf ‘N Jug, Minit Mart, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb and Turkey Hill.
Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers: Offering a card for a free Freddy’s Original Double combo meal to active duty and other veterans, on Nov. 11. The card is valid through Nov. 30. More than 380 locations nationwide.
Golden Corral: Offering a free “thank you” meal from 5 p.m. to close, Nov. 11 to active duty and other veterans, dine-in only. Over the last 20 years, the restaurants have served more than 6 million free meals to veterans.
IHOP: Offering free red, white and blueberry pancakes to active duty and other veterans from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at participating locations, dine-in only. Proof of service required.
Kolache Factory: Offering free kolache breakfast and a cup of coffee to active duty and other veterans from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 11. Military ID or DD 214 required.
Little Caesars: Offering a free Hot-N-Ready Lunch Combo at participating stores nationwide to active duty and other veterans from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time on Nov. 11. Offer features four slices of their Detroit-style deep-dish pizza and a 20-ounce Pepsi product.
Mission BBQ: Offering a free sandwich to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11.
Pilot Company: Offering a $10 free meal credit to active duty and retired military on Nov. 11 at its more than 750 participating travel centers. The company is using ID.me to verify eligibility in the myRewards Plus app. Once verified, service members will automatically receive a year-round, 10-percent discount on food and beverages when using the app.
Red Lobster: Offering a free appetizer or dessert from a special menu to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Military ID or other proof of service required.
Sheetz: Offering a free half turkey or ham sub and a regular size fountain drink to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Military ID or other proof of service required. Also offering free car wash at stores that have car wash facilities.
Shoney’s: Offering a free “all you care to eat” breakfast bar from opening to 11 a.m., Nov. 11, to active duty and other veterans.
Texas Roadhouse: Restaurants will distribute meal vouchers in the parking lot between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Nov. 11. The vouchers are valid through May 30, 2022, and can be redeemed for one of 10 entrees, plus a choice of certain drinks. The event is drive-through only, but the vouchers can be redeemed when the restaurants open for dinner. Proof of service required, such as military ID or VA card, or discharge papers.
Veterans Canteen Service: Offering free coffee or fountain beverage to veterans only on Nov. 10, in-store only. Check with your local VA facility for access restrictions.
White Castle: Offering a free Combo Meal (#1- #6) or Breakfast Combo to active duty and other veterans who dine at a participating White Castle restaurant, on Nov. 11. Military ID or proof of service required.
Recreation and travel
AmericanForcesTravel.com: Defense Department site offering discounts year-round on airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises and event tickets, for active duty, retirees, Guard and reserve, Coast Guard, veterans with service-connected disabilities, and other eligible MWR patrons.
Capital Wheel at National Harbor, Md.: This Ferris wheel is offering free rides to active and retired service members, and accompanying family members, from noon to 10 p.m. on Nov. 11 Service members must show military ID.
Central Station Hotel, Memphis, Tenn.: On Nov. 10 through Nov. 14, offering a 30-percent discount on rooms booked for a stay at the historic hotel through Feb. 28, 2022, for active duty and other veterans, police, fire and first responders. Select blackout dates apply. To get the discount, visit this link starting Nov. 10.
Mount Vernon: Offering free admission to all active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11.
National parks: All National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to all visitors on Nov. 11.
smarTours: Offering a $150 discount on any tour booked by Nov. 19 for active duty and other veterans, on any of the company’s more than 60 tours. When booking the tour, veterans should use the code VET150, and they’ll be asked for their applicable identification.
Vail Resorts: Offering the discounted Epic Military Pass for the 2021-2022 season. For active and retired military and their dependents, it’s $157; and for veterans and their dependents, it’s $467 Each pass includes holiday access and six discount tickets. Includes access to all 37 of their owned and operated resorts. Verification of eligibility required. Note: Website states pass prices will go up Nov. 21.
VetTix.org: Offers tickets year-round to all military and veterans, including immediate family of troops killed in action. Vet Tix secures tickets to sporting events, concerts, performing arts, educational and family activities across the nation. Tickets are free, with small delivery fee.
AllSeasonsUniforms.com: Offering a 10 percent discount year-round for active duty and other veterans, their spouses and dependent children. Applies to blank garments only, and doesn’t include discounts on shipping. Those seeking the discount must fill out a form, and a discount code will be emailed.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service: From Nov. 11 through Nov. 18, AAFES stores and ShopMyExchange.com will offer deals such as $400 off select 4K TVs, $100 off select computers, $800 off select appliances; and 35 percent savings on select toys. There are also savings on apparel for men, women and children, on name brands such as Under Armour, Columbia and The North Face. There will some deals exclusive to Veterans Day, such as 30 percent off Ray-Ban sunglasses, up to 25 percent off select skincare products, savings on select children’s Columbia jackets. There are also some one-day deals for Military Star Card holders.
Home Depot: Offering a 10 percent discount year-round to active duty and other veterans and their spouses. Available online, in the mobile app and in-store. Those eligible receive a maximum $400 maximum discount per year, which resets each calendar year. To enroll, visit homedepot.com/auth/view/signin or open the Home Depot mobile app. Log in to your existing personal account or create a new account. Go to the Military Discount page, select “Verify Military Status” and follow the on-screen instructions to complete your military verification. Once you’ve successfully completed each step, your personal account on HomeDepot.com will reflect your verified military status. Home Depot uses Sheer ID to verify status.
Lowe’s: Offering a 10 percent discount year-round to active duty members, veterans and their spouses on eligible items. Visit Lowes.com/military to enroll. Select Verify with ID.me and follow the on-screen instructions to complete military verification. After you’ve been verified, you’ll be asked to create a personal account on Lowes.com or log in to your existing personal account on Lowes.com and follow the on-screen instructions.
Office Depot: Offering a 25 percent discount off qualifying regular and sale-priced items in store for active duty and other veterans and their dependents Nov. 11 through Nov. 13. To get the discount, show military identification or a form of veteran identification at time of purchase. Applies to Office Depot and OfficeMax stores nationwide, but excludes these stores located on military installations. Some product exclusions apply.
Samsung.com: The online retailer offers year-round discounts of up to 30 percent to active duty, other veterans and their families, on phones, electronics, and more, year-round. This includes items such as Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip3, Galaxy Z Fold3, Galaxy Watch4 and Galaxy Buds2.
Staples: Offering 25 percent discount on all in-store purchases to active duty, other veterans and their immediate families at all U.S. locations through Nov. 13, with valid military identification. Some exclusions apply.
Target: Offering a 10 percent discount on all in-basket items, online and in-store, to active duty, other veterans and their families, now through Nov. 13. The discount can be used on two separate transactions. Some items are excluded, such as alcohol, mobile contracts, gift cards, clinic and pharmacy, dairy milk, and a variety of brands/items. Must be verified through Target.com/circle/military to get the discount.
The Vitamin Shoppe: Offering a 20 percent discount on all purchases to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 10 and 11. Available at all retail locations of The Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements, in-store only, with valid identification showing active duty or veteran status.
Xero Shoes: Offering a 15-percent discount to active duty and other veterans, first responders, nurses, and doctors. The website uses GovX ID to verify affiliation; go to Govx.com and search for Xero Shoes.
Aspen Dental: Offering free dental care to veterans and their spouses/significant others on Saturday, Nov. 6. Veterans can call 844-277-3646 to find one of the nearly 600 Aspen Dental offices around the country, and to schedule an appointment. Advance appointments are required.
Great Clips: Offering a free haircut on Nov. 11, or a free haircut card for a future visit, for active duty and other veterans, at U.S. salons. Non-military customers who get a haircut that day will receive a free haircut card they can give to a veteran. The cards can be redeemed Nov. 12 through Dec. 10. This is the ninth year the salons have offered the free haircuts for veterans, and to date have offered more than 1.7 million free cuts.
Sheetz: Free car wash to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11, at Sheetz stores that have a car wash. Military ID or other proof of service required.
SimpliSafe: Offering 50 percent off all home security systems through Nov. 11. Also, year-round, the company offers 15 percent off any SimpliSafe system, plus a free SimpliCam and a free month of SimpliSafe’s most comprehensive professional security monitoring to all USAA members.
Sport Clips: Some locations are offering free haircuts for active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11, with proof of service. Visit their website to find a participating location.
Tidal: This global streaming service offers a 40 percent discount to active duty and other veterans year-round. New customers who sign up receive a 30-day free trial, after which the 40 percent discounted military rate applies. The military premium rate is $5.99 a month. This applies to current Tidal customers, too, and those who want to apply the military discount can log in at my.Tidal.com, click on subscription, and scroll to select the military discount. Verification of service is done through Sheer ID. Tidal has also created two curated playlists for Veterans Day.
Tribute.co: Offering free video clips for active duty and other veterans. The platform allows users to record personalized video messages and compile them into one clip to send to family or friends. To access the free Tribute, use code MILITARYDIY at checkout.
ZIPS: Free car wash to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11, at ZIPS Car Wash locations with wash code 1112.
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 because of various issues such as labor shortages.
• 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.
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.