Military families and veterans know better than anyone that Veterans Day isn’t just about saving money. But as the cost of living continues to stretch wallets thin, this year’s discounts for the federal holiday could be a chance to snag a complimentary restaurant meal or a cheaper vacation without breaking the bank.
Our annual list of verified Veterans Day deals is here to help you navigate offers from restaurants, hotels, retail establishments and other businesses. If you plan wisely, you could fortify yourself with free breakfast, lunch and dinner while you head to stores with a trove of in-person and online markdowns.
But situations can vary and exclusions may apply: Call ahead to see whether restaurants and shops are open and whether they’re participating in a discount program. Check whether discounts apply to those currently in uniform as well as veterans, and if Guardsmen and Reservists can benefit, too. Ask if family members qualify for free meals as well. Perhaps most importantly, find out what proof of military service you need to provide.
Did we miss something? Email Senior Reporter Karen Jowers at [email protected] with suggestions.
If you don’t see a favorite establishment on the list, ask them if they have a military discount (even if they don’t have a sign in the store). Just remember that companies aren’t required to offer discounts or deals.
And 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 free meal for lunch or dinner, from a special menu of eight entrees, to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Dine in only; beverage and gratuity not included. Limit one free meal. Also receive a $5 “bounce-back card” for a future visit within a three-week redemption window. Must provide proof of service.
Bob Evans: Offering a free meal, from a special menu of seven items, to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Dine in only; beverage and gratuity not included. Must provide proof of service.
Bombshells Restaurant & Bar: Offering free entrees for veterans (not active duty) at all 12 company-owned and franchised locations in Texas on Nov. 11. Other items will be discounted at 20% for active duty and veterans, and accompanying families will receive a 20% discount on entrees and other items. All other days of the year, active duty and other veterans can receive a 20% discount. Check beforehand what identification can be used for the discount.
California Pizza Kitchen: Offering a free nonalcoholic beverage and choice of one entree, from a special menu at participating locations, to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Dine-in only, gratuity and tax not included.
Golden Corral: Offering a free meal at all locations from 5 p.m. to close on Monday, Nov. 13, to all active duty and other veterans for Military Appreciation Night. For more information, visit www.goldencorral.com/military-appreciation.
Hooters: Offering a free dinner entree from the Veterans Day menu, with purchase of a beverage, to active duty and other veterans, on Nov. 11 at participating Hooters locations. Their Veterans Day menu includes five Hooters entrees. A military ID or other proof of service is required. The offer is for dine-in only.
IHOP: Offering free red, white and blueberry pancakes to active duty and other veterans from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 at participating locations. Proof of service required.
Kolache Factory: Offering one free kolache and one cup of coffee to active duty and other veterans, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 11. Government-issued military photo ID or DD 214 required.
Little Caesars: Offering free lunch combo at participating locations while supplies last, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Nov. 11, to active duty and other veterans. Features four slices deep dish pizza with pepperoni, and a 20-ounce Pepsi product. Proof of service required.
Red Lobster: Giving away free printed meal vouchers to active duty, veterans and reservists, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. local time on Saturday, Nov. 11. The vouchers, for Veterans Shrimp & Chips, can be redeemed beginning Monday, Nov. 13 through Sunday, Dec. 10 for dine-in only. A valid military or proof of service required to redeem the voucher.
Shoney’s: Offering free “all you care to eat” breakfast bar, to active duty and other veterans, from opening until 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 at participating locations. Beverage and gratuity not included. Proof of service required.
Sizzler: Offering a free lunch to active duty and other veterans, until 4 p.m. Nov. 11, from a choice of three menu entrees. All Sizzler locations are participating, except those in Utah, Idaho, and Puerto Rico., will be offering a free lunch to any active duty military or veteran until 4:00 p.m.
Starbucks: Offering a free 12-oz. hot brewed coffee or iced coffee at participating stores to active duty, veterans and military spouses on Nov. 11. Available for café and drive-through orders only.
Tuscan Brands Restaurants: Offering a free family-style meal to veterans and their guest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nov. 10, at their locations in Boston, Burlington and Newburyport, Massachusetts; and Salem and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. RSVP by calling the restaurant or online at tuscanbrands.com/veteransday. The restaurants include Tuscan Kitchen, Tuscan Sea Grill & Bar and Toscana Italian Chop House & Wine Bar.
Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux: Offering a free Scholarship Burger to all active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11, with proof of service.
Wendy’s: Offering active duty and other veterans a free breakfast combo, at participating locations during breakfast hours, Nov. 11. Combo includes coffee or soft drink, breakfast sandwich and seasoned potatoes. Present military ID or Veterans Advantage card; veterans may also get the deal by showing their VetRewards card at the register.
White Castle: Offering a free individual combo meal or breakfast combo meal to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11 at participating restaurants. Proof of service is requested.
Recreation & travel
AmericanForcesTravel.com: This Defense Department site offers 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 Morale, Welfare and Recreation patrons.
Buena Park, California: The SoCal city has pulled together a number of discounts and deals from local businesses for currently serving and other veterans, for a trip that can be planned at any time through the end of the year, ranging from hotel deals, restaurant deals, and discounts at local attractions. For a full list of military deals, visit https://www.visitbuenapark.com/usmilitarydeals.
Margaritaville at Sea: Offering active duty and other veterans the new Heroes Pass, for $299, with unlimited cruises to the Bahamas from the Port of Palm Beach now through the end of 2024. Passholders and one guest can get unlimited, non-consecutive, sailings aboard the Margaritaville at Sea Paradise. Of note: Sailings booked with this pass can only be booked 24 to 72 hours in advance, so it’s best for those with flexible schedules. The short cruise itineraries make it possible to sail to the Bahamas multiple times a year without using up weeks of vacation time. Through the company’s partnership with GovX, qualifying guests can purchase the Heroes Pass online at margaritavilleatsea.com/current-offers/2024-heroes-pass while supplies last. Guests can also visit MargaritavilleatSea.com for more details and reservations. The price doesn’t include taxes, fees, and port expenses, which must be paid for each guest at time of booking. Limited quantities are available;. November and December 2023 sailings included. Limited blackout dates. 2024 passes expire 12/31/2024.
Mount Vernon: Offering free admission to active duty and other veterans on Nov. 11. Tickets may be picked up upon arrival. Free tickets do not extend to service members’ family members or guests. More information about this Virginia attraction is available at https://www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/mount-vernon-salutes-veterans/
National Parks: All national parks that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone on Veterans Day.
Vail Resorts: Current price of Epic Military Pass is $172 per person for the 2023/2024 season, and can be locked in until Nov. 19. This pass provides unlimited, unrestricted access to 41 resorts— including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Whistler Blackcomb and Andermatt-Sedrun-Disentis. The $172 applies to active duty and their dependents and retirees and their dependents. Veterans and their dependents pay $552 per person for the pass.
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 a small delivery fee.
World of Coca-Cola: Offering up to four general admission tickets at half-price to active duty and other veterans, through Sunday, Nov. 13. (The service members/veterans can visit the attraction free of charge year-round.) The discounted tickets must be purchased online in advance; use the promo code VETS2023 at checkout. You’ll be asked to show your military identification when you arrive at the attraction.
Academy Sports + Outdoors: Offering 10% discount to currently serving military and other veterans through Nov. 12. The discount is applied to the entire purchase, both in store and online. To use the discount online, verify your status with the id.me buttons on the shopping cart page, then copy and paste the promo code into the promo code section on the Shopping Cart page for single-use redemption.
Army & Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES: Veterans Day savings in brick-and-mortar stores as well at ShopMyExchange.com, to include $300 savings on Samsung Crystal UHD Smart TVs, $900 savings on HP Omen Gaming laptops; $300 off Apple MacBook Air Models with M2 chip; 20% off select Yeti hard-side or soft-side coolers; $130 off Bissell Revolution Hydrosteam Pet Vacuum; additional 20% off on Levis, American Eagle and Lucky; all Bath and Body Works hand soaps for $3.50; $20 off 1.7 oz. Victoria’s Secret Eau de Parfum and $25 off 3.4 oz. bottle. Active duty service members and retirees and their families, veterans with service-connected disabilities and DoD civilians can shop at AAFES stores on base, as well as online. Honorably discharged veterans can shop online at ShopMyExchange.com as well as the other online exchanges, mynavyexchange.com and shopcgx.com.
Happiestbaby.com: Offering 20% military discount on purchase of SNOO bed. Military service is verified through SheerID.
Home Depot: Offering a 10% 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. Login 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 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% discount year-round to active duty members, veterans and their spouses, with no limit on the maximum amount of discount 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
Parsons Xtreme Golf: Offering 40% off apparel and accessories through Nov. 15 to military and veterans. Offers year-round discounts on select clubs and apparel. Verified online through ID.me.
Sleep Number: Offering 20% discount on most Sleep Number smart beds, bases, furniture, and bedding to military and veterans. Military service is verified through SheerID for promo code.
Staples: Offering a 25% discount on all in-store purchases through Nov. 11, to active duty and other veterans and their families. Some items are excluded from the discount. Valid military identification required. Present this coupon at checkout.
Target: Offering active duty and other veterans, as well as their spouses and children, a 10% discount on the full basket, which can be used twice through Nov. 11. Some exclusions apply. To redeem the offer, verify eligibility by registering at www.target.com/circle/military. Once verified, customers can also add veteran or dependent status as part of their Target customer profile, and be eligible for future offers for verified military and veteran guests through Target Circle.
Tractor Supply Co.: Offering a 15% discount in stores to active duty and other veterans and their dependents on Nov. 11 with valid military ID or proof of service.
Walgreens: Offering 20% discount on regularly priced, eligible items in store from Nov. 10-Nov. 13 to active duty and other veterans and their dependents. Proof of service required. There are exclusions, such as prescriptions, alcohol, dairy, tobacco, gift cards and a number of other items.
Goodyear Auto Service and Just Tires: Offering “Free Car Care Check for Vets,” for currently serving and other veterans from Nov. 10–Nov. 14. Includes free checks of tires, brakes, alignment, fuel system and fluid checks at their locations nationwide, plus an additional 10% off tires and services. Those who can’t get their car in by Nov. 14 can make an appointment by Nov. 14 and get the discount and free services before Nov. 19. Starting Nov. 10, visit goodyearautoservice.com or justtires.com for more information and to book an appointment. Proof of service required.
Great Clips: On Nov. 11, currently serving military and other veterans can get a free haircut or a free haircut card to use later, at any U.S. Great Clips salon. Also, non-military customers who get a haircut on Veterans Day at Great Clips can get a free haircut card to give to a service member or veteran. The cards can be redeemed from Nov. 12–Dec. 1 at any Great Clips salon in the U.S.
Before you go
• Check the fine print and call the participating organization to be sure the offer is available at the time you plan to arrive. That’s especially important in these times of supply chain issues and 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 tip). Most restaurants require patrons to dine in for 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.
• 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.
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